Boo Hoo Why Can’t We Win The Cup Anymore?

When Shocking retired from racing his record made for pretty impressive reading. 7 wins and 8 placings from 27 starts including a Melbourne Cup, a Group I Australian Cup at weight for age and a Makybe Diva Stakes at weight for age over 1600m and total prizemoney of close enough to $5 million.

Shocking is exceptionally well bred, being by Street Cry, winner of the Dubai World Cup and sire of world champion mare Zenyatta out of a Danehill mare.

You would think with a CV like that one of the studs in Australia would want to stand him but amazingly that wasn’t the case and he stands at NZ’s Rich Hill Stud.

Rebel Raider, winner of the VRC Derby in 2008 is a similar story.  By undefeated stallion Reset and therefore carrying the best staying sireline in Australasia through Sir Tristram and Zabeel.  Nobody wanted to stand him at stud either before he ended up at Wyndholm Park Stud via Carin Park in Hamilton, Victoria.

Presumably it’s because they didn’t win the Golden Slipper or Blue Diamond, in fact I don’t think either of them did much at all as 2 year olds.

Australian trainers will squeal like stuck pigs again this year when European horses fill three quarters of the Caulfield and Melbourne Cup fields and duly take at least one of, if not both of The Cups off shore.  The same trainers will rush to the sales next year and spend hundreds of thousands on yearlings by Stratum, Redoutes Choice and Sebring.

How many years did Helenus spend in WA?  He had to throw a BMW winner and an ATC derby winner before there was enough interest to bring him back east.  Refuse To Bend won’t shuttle back to Australia due to lack of interest, even the great Galileo, sire of the best horse in the world, has been described as a stud failure in Australia.

If Australia can breed the best sprinters in the world, there’s no reason why we can’t breed the best stayers as well.  It takes patience and foresight but it can and should be done.

Northerly

Before Makybe Diva came along, I considered Northerly, who died this week after a colic attack, to be the best race horse I ever saw in the flesh.

I can remember when he first came to Melbourne with huge raps on him for his performances in Perth.  I can remember the commentators talking about his appearance in the mounting yard which was less than complimentary and according to them, his manners pre-race meant that he was ruled out as a winning chance.

But win he did, over and over again against all comers.  The first time I saw him was at Caulfield in the Underwood Stakes where he took the lead early in the straight and looked a sitting duck for the VRC Oaks winner Magical Miss and the AJC Derby winner Don Eduardo.  It sounds ridiculous but I’m quite sure Northerly saw Magical Miss coming at him and raised another effort to win.  I reckon my theory was proved right when Old Comrade beat him in the Australian Cup, coming with one late run out wide on the track where Northerly couldn’t see him.

In my opinion, Northerly’s equal greatest performances were the 2002 Caulfield Cup and Cox Plate beating Fields of Omagh.  I thought he’d win the Caulfield Cup after his performances leading in but I didn’t think he’d be able to drop back to the Cox Plate Distance in a week.  In the end he won pretty comfortably and stamped his greatness as a dual Cox Plate winner.  Only two horses had been able to win the Caulfield Cup/Cox Plate double before Northerly and none have done it since.

Vo Rogue died this week as well and there has been some discussion about his absence from the Hall of Fame.  I never saw him race other than on video but his record is quite amazing.  The unwritten ‘grand slam’ of Australian racing is the Melbourne Cup, Cox Plate, Caulfield Cup, Doncaster and BMW (Tancred) and the absence of one of those on Vo Rogue’s resume is probably what keeps him out of the Hall of Fame.