Monday, 15 October 2007
: In a month where few high notes emerged for the racing industry, one thing to be thankful for was the failure of equine influenza virus to spread into Victoria.
| Photo by Bronwen Healy |
How long the situation stays that way remains to be seen, but for now, the Melbourne spring carnival continues to push ahead and everyone has their fingers crossed that the highly contagious and fast moving virus fails to penetrate the home of spring's most prestigious races.
But even if those races aren't affected, it is seemingly inevitable that the carnival will go ahead minus visitors from New South Wales and Queensland.
Big numbers have rarely been a problem in Melbourne during the spring and that will probably be the case again this year, as other, less credentialed, gallopers step in to fill the void that would have otherwise been filled by visitors trekking south.
But make no mistake, the lack of competition will leave a gaping hole in the depth at the top end of some of our most prestigious races.
Put simply, interstate raiders – specifically those from Sydney stables – have had a picnic in Melbourne in recent years, dominating some of the very best races of the Australian turf.
Consider these top shelf races, won by interstate (excluding SA, WA, Tas), or international visitors: Cox Plate – 7 of past 12Savabeel
Might And Power
We have assumed Northerly would have been allowed to travel from Western Australia under similar circumstances to what has unfolded this year, otherwise the number would have been up to nine from 12.
Furthermore, Sunline's second Cox Plate win in 2000 came after a campaign that avoided Sydney all together.
However, that still leaves six of the past 12 Cox Plates that would have had different names on them had Sydney visitors not been able to cross the border.
Under that scenario, Fields Of Omagh would have joined Kingston Town as a triple Cox Plate winner after finishing runner-up to Savabeel
Whether it would have affected the result of this year's Cox Plate remains to be seen, but to be fair, most of the names at the top of betting were those that are still in contention, even after the virus struck.Caulfield Guineas – 10 of past 12
In Top Swing
Show A Heart *
Show A Heart trained in Queensland
Alfa trained by Bart Cummings, but did all racing in Melbourne
Of all the feature races run in Melbourne during the spring, this is the one that has been most dominated by horses travelling down from Sydney.
Sydneysiders have in fact won five of the past six, with only Helenus' 2002 success a highpoint for the locals.
One of the great attractions of the Caulfield Guineas and what makes it such an intriguing race is the chance to line up the nation's best three-year-olds for the very first time.
The lead up races in both Sydney and Melbourne provide great theatre and lining the respective formlines up is always a challenge and the subject of much (parochial) debate.
The facts tell the story here – 10 of the past 12 Caulfield Guineas winners have come from interstate, although to be fair, both Alfa and Show A Heart did all of their spring racing in Melbourne in their respective years. Yalumba Stakes – 7 of past 12
Might And Power
Guineas day at Caulfield just won't be the same without Sydney trained runners.
Not only have they dominated the main event, but this weight-for-age contest has also been a happy hunting ground.
The locals have struck back in the past three years, with Mummify, El Segundo and Casual Pass landing the major spoils.
But in the decade prior, it was pretty much all one way traffic, with only Northerly (another interstate invader!) and Sky Heights repelling the northern invasion.
Interestingly, of the seven names on this list, only Might And Power was able to go on and replicate that success in the Cox Plate at Moonee Valley.
Again, the appeal of the Yalumba is measuring the quality coming through the respective Sydney and Melbourne lead-up races, with this 2000m event quite often being the first chance to gauge the strength of those two formlines. Mackinnon Stakes – 7 from past 12
All Our Mob
Champagne trained in NZ but came through Sydney spring carnival
This is a similar story to the Yalumba.
Sydney horses haven't had much success in the Victoria Derby in recent times, but a few of the supporting events on “Australian racing's greatest day” have proven successful.
Desert War made a one-act affair of this race last year – something his stablemate Grand Armee did two years earlier. Myer Classic – 6 of past 12
It's not only the weight-for-age ranks where Sydneysiders have enjoyed spring carnival success.
Its older female competitors have taken a liking to the open spaces at Flemington as well.
The strike rate in the now Group 1 mares race on Derby Day is just as impressive as some of those previously mentioned eventsManikato Stakes – 4 of past 5
Spark Of Life (twice)
Spinning Hill (twice)
Because it is held earlier in the spring, interstate representation in the Manikato has not always been plentiful.
But before Miss Andretti's track record breaking win last year, the Sydneysiders had won this Moonee Valley sprint four times on end. Salinger Stakes – 4 of past 10
The Salinger has proven a tougher nut to crack for the invaders and in fact with the race being swapped with the WFA 1200m race (previously run Oaks Day, then Emirates Day) this year, the Salinger will take on a whole new persona.
This previously stood alongside the Newmarket Handicap as one of Australia's premier 1200m handicaps.
Usually attracting a capacity field, punters were usually confronted with a wide open affair, featuring formlines coming out of Sydney and other Melbourne lead-ups.
Dance Hero had been stationed in Melbourne for all of the spring carnival last year and rewarded connections with a big win in the Salinger.