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.

So You Think

The retirement of So You Think a few weeks ago gives pause to reflect on a career whose significance was lost, coming as it did between Makybe Diva and Black Caviar.

So You Think was good enough to win the Cox Plate as a three year old, becoming only the third horse since 1984 to achieve the feat.  In the spring of 2010 he demonstrated his true greatness with dominant wins in the Cox Plate and the McKinnon Stakes and a third in the Melbourne Cup.

His performances in the UK and Europe have been somewhat underestimated.  He won Group I races against small fields because other trainers avoided him in much the same way that they avoid Black Caviar here.  He ran fourth (first male horse across the line) in the Prix De L’Arc De Triomphe at Longchamp, a huge performance in the context of Australian racing.  The Arc is the race that the purists rate as the best bar none.

His performances overseas also have to be considered against the background of the admissions by Aidan O’Brien that he trained So You Think wrongly by trying to turn him into a dour stayer rather than taking advantage of his devastating speed.

So You Think will now have the opportunity for greatness as a stallion in the coming years.  With the resources of Coolmore at his disposal he will have every opportunity to succeed and he seems to have the attributes for a successful stallion, racetrack success, breeding and stunning looks.

To me, he’s our best middle distance horse since Makybe Diva and second only to Black Caviar in the last few years.  I would have loved to see Bart given the chance to give him a proper Melbourne Cup preparation, rather than taking the race on as an after thought having won another Cox Plate.  Having seen the Cox Plate field last year I believe he could have annexed that race on the way through, anyway.  I also would have loved to see So You Think race against Frankel over 2000m.  I doubt he could beat Frankel but I think he’s one of very few that could make a race of it.