Blinkers Off: Racing doesn’t believe in fairytales anymore   Leave a comment

Blinkers Off: Racing doesn’t believe in fairytales anymore

Rare breed: Danny Curran and his $750 filly The Big Dance are a battler-done-good story,

Rare breed: Danny Curran and his $750 filly The Big Dance are a battler-done-good story, an iconic Australian story. Picture: Getty Images Source: Getty Images

RESULTS across two states on Saturday offered insights into where our racing is, where it’s been and where it’s heading.

The battler stories are still there but they are becoming increasingly rare as the powerful become more so, the invaders more involved.

Danny Curran paid $750 for a yearling filly at a Melbourne sale, got her cheap because she paraded at 10am when “nobody was there’’ and didn’t have much of a pedigree.

Named The Big Dance, she won a $250,000 race on debut at Bendigo on Saturday and is a “Group 1 horse in the making’’ according to Curran.

If Curran is right and the fairytale is to continue, The Big Dance will have to step into the realm of Gai, Godolphin, Coolmore, Waller and — if she can stay — any invader, from Japan to Germany, who cannot resist our rich pickings.

Easy pickings, in fact, if you have a stayer bred and nurtured anywhere but here.

Gai Waterhouse won her sixth Slipper with Vancouver, a colt who cost $185,000 — cheap for one of hers — and Waterhouse confirmed herself as a legend of our racing.

She is not a battler, nor was her father Tommy Smith but T.J. didn’t start out rich. He was dirt poor when he grew up the son of a bullock driver and horse breaker in a Riverina dot called Goolgowi.

Just as Curran and his cheap filly are a battler-done-good story, an iconic Australian story, so is the story of Tommy and therefore in some ways Gai, just on a greatly magnified scale.

Tommy made millions in racing and property but never forgot about the importance of a hard-earned quid or an insensitive kick up the arse.

True believer: trainer Danny Curran and his filly The Big Dance, who won a $250,000 race

True believer: trainer Danny Curran and his filly The Big Dance, who won a $250,000 race on debut at Bendigo on Saturday. Picture: George Salpigtidis Source: News Corp Australia

In 1998 he told his daughter her lack of success with two-year-olds made him “sick”. Two days later he died, presumably from his something more terminal than his daughter’s inadequate record with two-year-olds.

Three years later, Gai won her first Slipper with Ha Ha.

The Golden Slipper has come to define not just Waterhouse but Australian racing and breeding.

It’s been written a million times before — we breed and race for speed, our sprinters are the world’s best, etc — but this culture now appears at odds with what is happening here and around us.

For a few years race clubs have been making token efforts to lift the status of our staying ranks, lift the interest, by pouring money into staying races.

This has not excited locals greatly because there is a far quicker return with sprinters, even if the races are less valuable.

It has, however, peaked interest among the elite both here and overseas, who eye races like the $6 million Melbourne Cup and $4 million Queen Elizabeth Stakes as targets to be swooped upon.

For whatever reason, we cannot either breed or nurture stayers. Look at the void filled by Chris Waller and his plain imports in recent times.

Becoming more common: Japanese visitor Real Impact and jockey James McDonald after winnin

Becoming more common: Japanese visitor Real Impact and jockey James McDonald after winning the Group 1 George Ryder Stakes. Picture: Mark Evans Source: News Corp Australia

New Zealand used to provide staying stock but that well has all-but dried, except for the odd smart staying three-year-old like Rosehill Guineas winner Volstok’n’barrell.

And second tier horses from Europe now Japan stage raid after raid.

The upside is that these horses — Hartnell, Contributer, Real Impact, Tosen Stardom, etc — upgrade the level of local competition.

The downside — and this is a very parochial argument — is that the more rich raiders or rich locals who buy rich raiders come, the more the locals miss out.

Great Contributer wins Ranvet Stakes

Great Contributer wins Ranvet Stakes

Money generated here sustains prizemoney for Melbourne and Caulfield Cups, QE’s, Cox Plates and our other rich staying races but that money is being plundered by foreigners who don’t hang around long enough even to buy a duty free bottle of scotch.

It seems unworldly to think negatively about the benefits of putting on big purses for foreigners to snatch. No-one likes a closed shop.

But in a decade’s time, when no Aussie-bred, reared and raced horse can compete in our richest races, the staying races, the frustration will mount.

Gai will keep winning Slippers and maybe source another Fiorente for the Melbourne Cup but those who were once able to compete at least occasionally are being strangled out.

Enjoy Danny Curran and his $750 filly. Soon, such stories really will be fairytales.

LET’S HOPE THEY PAK’EM IN

BIG week for … Pakenham. Or Tynong. Or Nar Nar Goon. Wherever it is, there is something exciting about a new racetrack, especially one so close to town.

It’s a big, cambered track and the super-drying surface is world class. Bendigo’s magnificent meet on Saturday proved there is an appetite for out of town prime-time racing, so long as it’s not over done and done well.

Pakenham’s first meet is Thursday.

Originally published as Racing doesn’t believe in fairytales anymore

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Posted March 23, 2015 by belesprit09 in Uncategorized

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