Season Recap: The Classics

Racing and Sports look back at the 3yo Classics run across the 2021/22 Australian Racing Season.

GYPSY GODDESS winning the Channel 7 Queensland Oaks
GYPSY GODDESS winning the Channel 7 Queensland Oaks Picture: Michael McInally/Racing Queensland

 

On the weekend where The Derby and its French equivalent were won in spectacular style, igniting the racing season in Europe, the 'Classics' came to an end in Australia with the running of the Queensland Oaks. 

There are 19 Group One races restricted to three-year-olds in the Australian racing season - some even deserving of the title - and eight of those are run in tribute to the Derby and Oaks at Epsom. 

Western Australia and Tasmania get involved with lesser ranked versions and of course there is New Zealand who, when they are not busy nicking ours, run and win their own. 

The Derby is the most recognised (certainly) and significant (arguably) race run in Britain, but down under these 'Classics' are often not so. 

The Derby in Britain is often the defining moment of the British racing season. As the Italian genius Federico Tesio observed: "The Thoroughbred exists because its selection has depended, not on experts, technicians or zoologists, but on a piece of wood: the winning post of the Epsom Derby." 

In Australia a Derby or an Oaks are rarely defining. They are qualifiers for defining moments to come in our truly defining races; the big Cups, Caulfield and Melbourne, and the Cox Plate and Queen Elizabeth. 

This season's 'qualifiers' make for interesting viewing. Thankfully, given that, I have made them available to view below: 

 

The first thing this table highlights is what a horrible blow injury to Hitotsu is for the season ahead. A standout, a star, a horse qualified and ready to deliver the defining moments of 2022-23, will be watching on from the sidelines. 

The second thing to leap of the page is the gap from the top; the spread is skewed with the mean ~105.5 and the median 107.5. They are clustered to the low side leaving a hole behind Hitotsu. A hole that now becomes a wide open space in his absence. 

If that space is to be filled by one (or more) of these then it seems most likely to be filled by the pair that have won in Queensland, both on good side of the middle of this set and, perhaps most importantly, the most recently seen. 

More recent, more confident. From this list Gypsy Goddess is the one we can be most confident about. There is less uncertainty around her rating than there is around a filly like Willowy who we haven't seen since a five-day flurry in Cup Week. 

In the last 10 years there have been 165 fillies run in the Queensland Oaks. That just two of them have gone on to win at the top level in the following season highlights the task ahead of Gypsy Goddess. That just three of them have been rated higher than her highlights how much she has already achieved.

Those three - Winx, Provocative, Duais - are responsible for the two that went on to win at the top level. Duais played her part in defining the latest season and Winx defined the entire sport in Australia in the years that followed her Queensland Oaks.

The three-year-old group overall have largely underwhelmed this season. Last year we bemoaned the fact that the three-year-olds won a mere 1.5 races at the top level against their elders; the worst return in the history of the pattern. Only once prior had the three-year-olds only won two. Make that thrice! 

Home Affairs and Mazu won open-aged Group Ones, and Anamoe perhaps should have, but across the board the current group's return has been poor. 

But the same was said (by me) of last year's group and they progressed to the mean in their four-year-old year. The best thing about the bottom is that the only way is up. 

The Classics have been run and won, producing one now-hobbled star, but that leaves room for others to move into his place; none more likely than Gypsy Goddess. 


Racing and Sports