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Caulfield Cup 2011 - A Great Day Out

"Caulfield Cup 2011 - A Great Day Out" by Andrew Beattie ("Carbine") of Great Racehorses.

What started as a day at the races ended up being the birthday bash of all time, and purely by accident, as most unexpected good times seem to eventuate.

Robert Bishop (Hyperion) and Andrew Beattie (Carbine) had left a rainy Sydney morning on the 8.00am Qantas flight to Melbourne for the run since 1879 Caulfield Cup and the possibility of one of the overseas horses taking out the 2400 metres Group 1 event, an important lead up race to the race that stops a nation, the Melbourne Cup, run 17 days later on the first Tuesday in November, the 1st this year.

Before boarding our conveyance to the big day I, Andrew, had caught up with former jockey, and now channel 9 racing commentator, Wayne Harris, in the Qantas lounge. I had reminded Wayne of the day when he rode our syndicate’s filly Food For Love to an unlucky second in the world’s richest race for two year old horses, the Golden Slipper. He was surprised that it was 30 years ago, way back in 1981, and he was also amazed that I had remembered the horse that ran 6th that day, a neddy named Chinese Treasure, who had dropped dead from a heart attack after the jockey had dismounted, almost knocking me to the ground in the process. Wayne had ridden that horse in its previous start for a win in the Black Opal Stakes in Canberra but had declined the ride in the big one in order to ride our filly that he had ridden 4 days earlier for a good win in the rain delayed Group2 Magic Night Stakes.

Anyway, we had just watched my selection and bet in Race 1 win narrowly from Robert’s selection, by chance a stable-mate of the winner. The speedy filly Belle Of The Court had missed the kick but soon speared through to take the lead. Challenges came to her over the last 300 metres of the race and she was actually headed but fought back to prevail in a tight finish. I think Peter Moody, trainer of world champion sprinter Black Caviar has another top-liner here.

Robert and I headed in to the bar to have a beer, as you do, and were lucky enough to grab an empty table for the placement of our beers. No sooner had we settled when we were approached by a group of lads enquiring as to where they could purchase ale. It was obvious that the enquirer had an English accent so Robert and I both being British got chatting to them and they joined our company, all five of them, James 1, James 2, James 3, Nick and Wayne, who was celebrating his 30th birthday. Over the course of the afternoon we were joined by their girlfriends, very pretty English roses. As the Bard Will Shakespeare wrote in Romeo and Julie ‘A rose by any other name would still smell as sweet’.

James 1, with a good Welsh surname of Hughes, down from Sydney for the weekend, said he was from North Wales and I knew straight away that he was going to say Mold, in Flintshire, the place of birth and upbringing of my late wife Anna who passed away 5 months ago. In fact I had just returned from scattering some of her ashes in Wales, at the old family home, Wedmore in Hendy Road, Mold, and a few other places as well as the windswept Moel Famau, meaning mother mountain, a designated area of outstanding natural beauty. James 1 was shell-shocked that I could say the name of the town in Welsh – Yr Wyddgrug and I knew some of the pubs, The Dolphin and the Leeswood Arms. Incredibly James’ grandmother also lives in Hendy Road. One of the other lads, Nick, lives in Rangers Road, Neutral Bay, my home territory.

Race 2 and the Darley horse Galah ridden by Kerrin McEvoy finished strongly to beat the Freedman trained Masthead. The winner was one of my selections.

Race 3 and the lads had a tip for the Bart Cummings trained Gliding. I gave my thoughts saying the horse looked to be an improver and they had a nice win at around $8 the win.

Race 4 was won by Sabrage ridden by Damien Oliver but the unlucky runner was the third placed Niagara, trained by Gai Waterhouse. Follow him for the Victoria Derby on Saturday week.

Race 5 was merely a training exercise for the Darley owned 3 year old Sepoy, who earlier in the year as a 2yo had taken out the Golden Slipper at Rosehill Gardens. For those in the Northern Hemisphere the Horses’ Birthday is August 1st. This super colt’s earnings are just short of $4 mill.

Before Race 6 we were joined by two vivacious young ladies let loose by their husbands for the day, Amanda in a little black dress and Kerry in a flowery, almost tropical outfit, girls spoken for, and here’s me footloose and fiancé-free again. As they say unlucky in love but lucky on the punt, or is it cards? However, I was at Caulfield to be more observant of the four-legged fillies, colts and older horses too. Luckily I tipped them Love Conquers All, the Nick Moraitis owned sprinter, ridden by Hong Kong based hoop Darren Beadman, which won well with my money on at $6.50. I bought the girls a bubbly wine to celebrate and shouted the lads a beer too.

Race 7 was taken out by Sydney’s leading trainer Chris Waller with Foreteller ridden by ace jockey Corey Brown. The ladies reciprocated my bubbly gesture and bought Robert and me a beer.

After this race I headed for the stables to try to catch the trainer of Saptapadi, the English horse trained by Brian Ellison. One of the James’ dad is the trainer’s best mate. I unfortunately missed him but did bump into Anthony and Lee Freedman, the conditioners of my Cup fancy Lucas Cranach. I told them I’d been at the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in Paris the fortnight past and the form-line of their horse through the Arc winner Danedream was very strong. They agreed and gave me the imprssion they were looking good for the Cup in 15 minutes time. I concurred and bet accordingly, however as Lucas loomed up to win within the final 200 metres he faltered and pulled up lame, running 5th beaten about 3 lengths. The lameness should clear up quickly, a bit like you or I rolling an ankle, so stick with him for the Melbourne Cup. By the way, Lucas Cranach was a German Renaissance artist, a great friend of Martin Luther, not the black evangelist and civil rights activist who had a dream before he was gunned down in Memphis. Lucas painted mostly religious topics but also indulged himself in painting naked ladies, not bad work if you can get it.

I was hoping for a repeat of a great day I had at Caulfield way back in 1971 when I won a motza on Gay Icarus, trained by Cyril Beachey and ridden by Mick Mallyon. He took the lead turning for home and bounded away to win eased down by two lengths from one of the first imports for our big races, an American horse named Igloo, trained by the legendary Tommy Smith. I had bookmarked Gay Icarus after watching him win the Champion Stakes at Randwick.

Sorry, I’ve been over-nostalgic about past glory that I almost forgot to mention that Adelaide mare Southern Speed ridden by Craig Williams won this year’s BMW Caulfield Cup from one of the imports Green Moon with Tullamore running on for third. The winner certainly showed the speed of a sporty BMW in her convincing win but there was a sour taste in her trainer Leon Macdonald’s mouth as the owners had given regular rider Clare Lindop the flick.

Race 9 and the bonny Sydney mare More Joyous had a good win for larrikin owner John Singleton and trainer Gai Waterhouse. I had picked the first two but had become greedy and tried to get the trifecta, but to no avail. Follow More Joyous through the Spring Carnival.

Last race and the ‘get-out stakes’ and I staked my last bet on Rue Maple, who loomed up to win within the 200 but faltered close to home leaving the Clarrie Connors trained Satin Shoes to prevail. Never mind, I’d had a great fun day and couldn’t complain.

Not much damage done on the punt and Robert and I farewelled the backpackers, the English roses and the two good sorts who had given us a bloody good laugh all afternoon. Wayne certainly won’t forget his 30th birthday in a hurry and that horrible green tie he was wearing with Sex-Pot on it.

I’m sure we’ll all meet again, and as Vera Lynn sung ‘ don’t know where, don’t know when’, however in fact James 1 and Nick will join my party at Head Office, The Oaks Hotel, Neutral Bay, for a big juicy steak, dwinky poohs and a good bet on Lucas Cranach on Melbourne Cup day in a few week’s time.

Robert and I? We carried on for drinks and some roulette at the Crown Casino, watched Wales go down narrowly to the Frogs in the Rugby World Cup, had an expensive banquet at the Koko Japanese restaurant at Crown, Southbank before turning in at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. A very big day out!

See you next year Melbourne. And thank you Caulfield!

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