PUNTING SPECTATOR: VRC Derby

The global financial crisis may have forced some companies to abandon their Cup Week marquees, but the boys from Turf Deli will still be at the races with plenty of good mail.

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This year the Spring Racing Carnival faces its most serious threat ever: the global economic downturn. Last year’s scare that equine influenza could put a halt to horse racing nationwide was merely a ripple on the surface. This year the looming danger is perilous, real and present, and strikes at the very heart of everything that Cup week is about – Cup Week marquees.

The situation is dire indeed. James Packer – gone. L’Oreal – gone. Moet & Chandon – gone. Roving TV presenters are desperately picking through rubbish bins and scrap heaps, searching for celebrities to interview. Tent cities of the relocated and disenfranchised are springing up all over the car park, but the squalor of a two-man tent struggles to accommodate even the smallest wine collection, let alone the most basic of fountains.

So when attending Flemington during Cup Week, please consider those worse off than you.

If you see a poor, pale-looking B or C grade celebrity begging by the roadside, holding a designer shoe box with the words "Marquee-less – please help” scrawled in black texta, then please help them out. Any spare credit cards you may have would be greatly appreciated. Try not to look shocked by their pale appearance – they might not be able to afford fake tan. If you think they might waste any donation on celebrity magazines, then maybe take them out and make sure they have a good feed of lobster and champagne.

For those few marquees that are pushing on, the feel, look and theme is more important than ever. This year, it’s all about the recession/depression look. Long overcoats, scraggy beards, gloves with cut off fingers, crusty bread off cuts, and big pots of soup made from roadkill. Unwashed, unkempt, but oh-so stylish and chic. We have warned you – don’t complain about feeling out of place in your designer frock and fascinator.

Victorian Derby 3YO 2500 metres, Group 1

Tips:

1-WHOBEGOTYOU
9-LARRY'S NEVER LATE
5-THE TIGER

Race summary:

Pace: Slow to even
Leaders : 5-THE TIGER, 6-WOOKAH
Handy : 3-REBEL RAIDER, 4-PRE EMINENCE, 7-TUSCANY VIEW, 8-BUFFETT, 11-ORCA
Back : 1-WHOBEGOTYOU, 2-CARNERO, 9-LARRY'S NEVER LATE, 10-ST CULPE,
12-RELENTLESS LAD, 13-PADDY O'REILLY, 14-MY SCOTSGREY, 15-FLASH'N DOUGH

Chances:

1-WHOBEGOTYOU is the star 3YO and normally these star 3YOs on the rise just keep on wining throughout the spring – in both the colts and geldings and the fillies. Had genuine excuses for his first two runs in and then let loose with devastating win in Bill Stutt, circling the field on a leader’s track. He did pretty much the same in the Caulfield Guineas when he won going away from them. Issued a bit of a challenge with solid speed set by the leader in AAMI Vase, but showed he could deal with that as well. Deserves to be short priced favourite and should just keep on winning. One to beat.

5-THE TIGER is coming through the Geelong Classic which is form that normally doesn’t hold up for this race. But you know what – we like this one! He led and raced away from them there in the straight like a solid staying type – we like the way he booted for home, and he can probably lead here again. If the track is favouring on-pacers, you might find he is hard to run down in the straight. Wasn’t far behind these start before that at Flemington, when did get a little hampered on the rails. Despite the Geelong form line we think he is the best rough chance by far this year.

9-LARRY'S NEVER LATE is a poor ol’ thing – he hasn’t had much luck at all. Last start he was hopelessly unlucky with the jockey standing up in the saddle, looking for runs (and trying to remember where he parked his car), at the top of the straight, went left, went right, got blocked, refused entry and finished it off OK once he got a clear run. Might not have won, should’ve run a clear second at least though. Start before at Flemington again he had to take time to ease across heels before getting clear. Has been consistently thereabouts in his lead up races and think he is just about due for a change of luck. Not an AAMI Vase or Norman Robinson place getter, which is the form line you want, but probably should have been, so I think that is close enough. Jockey is having a bit of a purple patch too. Think he is going to appreciate the extra distance and big track today and might just give this a shake. Genuine chance.

11-ORCA is still a maiden, but they can win this race now and then. Actually quite liked the run in the AAMI Vase – he is the one who set out after the tear away leader, went up and reigned him in and stayed on OK after that. Not much between him and the (8) last two runs. Probably drops back here from outside barrier, but think he might stay OK and be just about to show rapid improvement. Ticks the box of being a place-getter in the AAMI Vase, so has to go in. Rough chance.

Place:

3-REBEL RAIDER comes through the Geelong Classic, which is proven, time and time again, to be an utterly irrelevant lead in to this race. Did make ground there – was well beaten by both the (5) and the (14) who are both going around here – but does meet them better on weight. Going along OK in Adelaide before that, but hardly setting the world on fire – but he was carrying big numbers. Drawn wide, but does prefer to race handy so will probably go forward here. Actually, guess he hasn’t been finishing too far from them, he will go forward and probably stick on OK, so might be worth a rough place chance.

4-PRE EMINENCE won the Norman Robinson, a traditional lead in to this race, so have to pay attention to that form. Great ride to take him to the lead (OK – we might have been on him). We do feel the ride probably won him the race. Ridden back at Flemington start before that did not work and he was an eye-catching finisher. Doubt he will lead here, probably sit behind the (5) on the rails and should get pretty good cover all the way around – so might put in a burst in the straight. Have to respect Norman Robinson form going into this, so does rate a chance, but there were a few behind him from that race that were unlucky, and the AAMI Vase form has been the one to follow in recent years. Chance, but probably the place for us.

8-BUFFETT is on the rise with only the four career runs, and seems to be improving as the distances increase. Not beaten that far by the superstar (1) in the AAMI Vase and not far behind them in fairly weak field at Caulfield before that. Drawn well, can race handy, so should get pretty good cover through this race. But go through the history books – can you win the Derby at your fifth career start? Seems a huge challenge. Probably will get a great run, and will be thereabouts. Place chance.

Sacking:

2-CARNERO has been a bit unlucky this spring, becoming an expert at running fourth and fifth. Funny run in the AAMI Vase – was going backwards before the home turn, but rallied again to poke up on the rails and stick it out and finish his usual fourth – they didn’t run away from him though. Runs before that were good – made solid ground from wide barrier in Caulfield Guineas, badly held up for runs on rails before that in the Bill Stutt. Just thought he had every chance in AAMI Vase. Will be thereabouts – he is genuine – so fourth and fifth again.

6-WOOKAH is another go forward one, who will probably sit outside the (5) here. Ridden back in Norman Robinson was against normal racing pattern, and run is probably better than it looks – he raced on his side for a while in the straight, and had to shift runs. But just thought start before that at Flemington he went forward – had every chance and got out-stayed. Beaten home by many of these last start so would have to improve a fair bit to be a factor here. Prefer to leave out.

7-TUSCANY VIEW made a little ground when well beaten at Geelong, and meets the (3) who beat him home convincingly there again today – and all on the same or worse weight terms, so hard to see him being a factor.

10-ST CULPE really hasn’t done anything to recommend it in four runs this spring. Well beaten against these last two runs and moving onto the next runner already. No thanks.

12-RELENTLESS LAD has popped down from Sydney, and so has missed all of the traditional lead up races into this – which is a very unusual preparation. Usually if you think they are good enough for the Derby you bring them down for the lead ups. Form in Sydney is only fair at best, and the Sydney form has proven to be very ordinary this year. Drop back type. Hard to see him being a factor in this.

13-PADDY O'REILLY has been on the traditional staying path, but been rather frustrating to follow – being thereabouts to encourage you to get on next start, but not really producing. Made it into the placings in Norman Robinson, disappointing when favourite start before at Flemington, and looks just a grinding type. Is a Norman Robinson place getter though, so does tick that box. There are plenty around him from last couple of runs that we would much rather prefer to be on and more than happy to leave him out today – doubt he is going all that well.

14-MY SCOTSGREY (NZ) is coming into this with only the three career runs, which does seem a hefty task. Bought over from New Zealand for this, so they must have an opinion of him. Still started 7-1 at Geelong – so was hardly backed off the map. Finished OK at Geelong – just starting to come home and the jockey did ease him over the last couple of metres. But again – Geelong Classic form rarely holds up, this is only his fourth start and he will probably drop well back here. We can see him giving these too much ground. Prefer to pass.

15-FLASH'N DOUGH is still a maiden after nine starts, well and truly beaten at odds at Geelong and not going to get close here. No.

Summary:

This race is normally pretty straight forward. In the last six years, all of the winners have been in the first three home in the AAMI Vase. In the last 20 years, 19 winners have been in either the first three home in the AAMI Vase, or the first three home in the Normal Robinson. And the one year missing? The winner was fourth in the AAMI Vase. One of the strongest form lines in the business, pretty much all you need to do to find the winner
each year is just chop it down to the first three home from the AAMI Vase/Norman Robinson.

Normally the 3YO on the rise keeps winning – and four out of the last six favourites have won this race which is a pretty good record. So if you want to take the short priced odds about the favourite you will probably be safe. But do be prepared for a bit of a ride for you money, once they get out to the 2500M it is never easy, and do remember both HELENUS and EFFICIENT had to pull out something special to win this race. It probably won’t be as easy as it looks, so wear extra deodorant – just in case.

Pace here should be slow to genuine, with 5-THE TIGER, 6-WOOKAH leading and 3-REBEL RAIDER, 4-PRE EMINENCE, 8-BUFFETT sitting in behind them. Peeled out in plenty of time and with the big Flemington straight you would think 1-WHOBEGOTYOU should win, as long as the track is racing fairly. For the dangers we are actually going to go away from the AAMI Vase/Norman Robinson place getters (even after doing the hard sell about how important they are). 9-LARRY'S NEVER LATE has been going along OK, hopelessly unlucky last start and think he wants the extra distance and could give this a shake. And, even more surprising – and yes we have slapped ourselves across the face a few times – we are going to give a push for the Geelong winner, 5-THE TIGER. We just love the way he led and out stayed them last start and he might give these a scare today. 11-ORCA the next of them, and probably play some trifectas and first fours around these ones.

One to risk: 13-PADDY O'REILLY
Roughie: 5-THE TIGER

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