Cup fever that grips a nation
THE Melbourne Cup is today run for the 156th time and interest and excitement for the event continues to be strong across the country.
In Melbourne, the mood is as buoyant as ever with many visitors to the city enjoying the atmosphere around restaurants, bars, public transport, and at the linked events such as the Melbourne Cup Parade yesterday and the Call of the Card at Crown Casino last night.
A superb day of racing in perfect conditions on Saturday's Derby Day kicked off the Flemington Carnival.
After today's Cup meeting, it is on to Oaks Day on Thursday and Stakes Day on Saturday. The win of Prized Icon giving four generations of Cummings derby winners was the clear highlight of the day.
In the big race today, it appears that the international runners are not at the level of previous years. The highest rated of them is Big Orange, who placed fifth in the Cup last year and is being asked to carry extra weight this year.
Bondi Beach is again in the Cup for his second Australian race although he finished well back last year and his European form has not been so strong this season.
Easy Caulfield Cup winner Jameka is a strong chance and is in form.
Hartnell has taken all before him this Spring apart from the mercurial Winx.
Despite two somewhat disappointing runs over two miles in last year's Sydney and Melbourne Cups, Hartnell is my pick on his scintillating Spring form with four kilograms under weight for age and meeting Jameka better on weights after proving far too good at Flemington in the Turnbull Stakes. Importantly, he has also won over two miles at Royal Ascot.
The lightly weighted danger would have to be Almandin, a former German horse who defeated Protectionist in Germany in 2014 just prior to that galloper easily winning the Melbourne Cup of that year.
Almandin was immediately purchased by Lloyd Williams to race in Australia. However injury problems meant that he did not race again until almost two years later.
He has had five Australian starts winning his past two impressively including the Bart Cummings over 2500 metres at Flemington to prove he is in form, can run over distance, and is happy at Flemington.
Throw in the featherweight of 51 kilograms and this galloper looks a good chance despite the wide draw.
My picks are Hartnell, who is currently rated in the top 10 horses across the world, from Almandin and Jameka.
IT was an unusual Thursday meeting at Ipswich last week with another to follow this week. There were only six races with a small number of runners which is normal at this time of the year.
That is due to the plethora of race meetings held today corresponding with Melbourne Cup Day. There are south east Queensland races alone at Eagle Farm, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, and Toowoomba.
Every other Queensland TAB club is also racing as Rockhampton, Mackay, Townsville, and Cairns all share in on the excitement of the first Tuesday of November.
The Ipswich Turf Club has a betting meeting only with the popular luncheon which has again been sold out for the sixth successive year and which doubles as a fundraiser for charitable organisation Ipswich Quota.
This week the Thursday Ipswich meeting corresponds with the Group 1 VRC Oaks meeting at Flemington following on from last year's successful programming on that date.
Last year was the first time in recent memory that Ipswich raced as the primary Queensland venue on a Group 1 day elsewhere in Australia.
IPSWICH racing is on Thursday corresponding with VRC Oaks Day before reverting back to Fridays from November 11.