|Issue No 93||27 April 2001|
The Locker Room
Trackside with Jim Maher
It's tempting to fire shots at Sydney racing as the city's features fall further behind their Melbourne counterparts and, at first glance, tomorrow's 3200m showpiece provides live ammunition.
The $800,000 Sydney Cup at Randwick has drawn an average field of battlers. Kiwi six-year-old Our Unicorn is top weight at an extraordinary 53kg and so far do the weights tumble that many leading riders were never a hope of being engaged.
Don't look for Larry Cassidy, Chris Munce, Damian Oliver, Darren Beadman, Lenny or Danny Beasley in the starting gates because they won't be there. Sydney trainer Graham Begg had to send out a trans-Tasman SOS to get an experienced rider to take advantage of the featherweight 47kg allotted his entrant, Pristine Partners, the winner of, ahem, a whole $26,000 in prize money.
Begg did well to secure Lee Rutherford. His charge will blow in the market because, for some reason, Aussie punters don't like the thought of women on top but if Pristine Partners fails to feature it will be a reflection on horse not human. Rutherford has saluted a Group One level and is noted for getting home long shots, as art at least as praiseworthy as being able to put hot-pots in the frame.
And, to be fair, the standard of this year's cup can't be laid solely at the feet of the AJC. It wasn't their fault that hometown favourite Tie The Knot was turned out for a spell, or that Melbourne Cup place-getter Second Coming up and carked it a couple of weeks shy of race day.
The club will be the loser because there is no Tie The Knot or Sunline to pitch to the wider public. For the oft-forgotten punter, however, that is not necessarily a bad thing. For a start they won't be trampled by rampaging hordes of wannabes searching for a dunny to dispose of their last 18 bottles of San Miguel.
And, to be fair, the lack of out-and-out stars should make the cup a more interesting betting proposition. No question, it's wonderful to see the champs but when it comes to parting with the hard-earned, even money doesn't exactly drive the moths out of the wallet.
Favourite Giovana was showing a miserly 5/2 in overnight markets but, the unlucky mare aside, the next shortest proposition in a 14 horse field looked like offering at least 6/1.
With five other group races on the card, including a better than useful Queen Elizabeth Stakes, headed by Sky Heights, Shogun Lodge and Referral, there is plenty of exposed form about.
There won't be too many carnivals in this part of the world, or any other for that matter, that wind-up with a group three race as interesting as the TJ Smith Stakes.
Top weights Testa Rossa, Mr Innocent, Hong Kong hero Falvelon, and Black Bean are well and truly millionaires; Padstow knocked off the Galaxy on this track at 50/1; Hire has plenty of admirers and down at 15 on the card is last year's Golden Slipper winner, Belle Du Jour, with a respectable $1.98 million in the bank. You're looking at anything between 9/2 and 33/1 for that lot.
The media spotlight will continue to shine on the standard, or otherwise, of the cup field but there is going to be plenty of value about and that means fair-dinkum punters should be there will bells on.
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Economics: Currency Unification: Dollarize or Die?
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History: Instant History
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Review: Share-Holder Nation
A legacy of government-backed privatisations, demutualisations and stockmarket hype over the past decade is the creation of a nation of shareholders.
Satire: SOS: Save the Investment Banker!
Spare a thought for those less fortunate With redundancies at investment banks around the globe looming, now is the time for us to show the world just how much we care. It's just not right.
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