Shark Bites: BMW Caulfield Cup Day Preview

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BMW Caulfield Cup Day marks one of the great days on my social and sporting calendar.

It marks “The Annual”, a get together of a group of like-minded individuals that I grew up with in the south-eastern suburbs of Melbourne. We spent our formative years knocking around local cricket and footy clubs, now we indulge in the Three P’s (pies, pots, and the punt) in the Medallion Bar at Caulfield on Cup.

There’s got to be something to that – growing up in sports clubs very much entrenched in suburban community culture, then ending up years later feeling as comfortable as a foot in a worn in footy boot at another club far removed from the mud and liniment of our youth.

The day the MRC introduces pre-race rub downs for members will be the day that these two unlikely worlds truly collide.

But the culture is right and that’s what brings this particular group of blokes back to the track year after year.

Released from the responsibilities of fatherhood for the day by our much better halves, you can have your last $20 on this multi; someone will peak far too early, someone will be on the snip by race three, someone will dodge a shout (probably me), and someone will get out of trouble on the last at Belmont.

God bless BMW Caulfield Cup day.

And God bless (please) my mare OCEAN EMBERS in Race 7, the G2 Caulfield Sprint. The poor thing had a sniffle last week and missed a run in the Northwood Plume Stakes but is fighting fit for a return this week. She loves Caulfield as much as The Annual crew do, and if she happens to win on Saturday, I know a corner of the Medallion Bar will go absolutely off its head.

I’ve been tossing and turning about the likely Cup result and have arrived at the following conclusion – HARLEM is the forgotten horse in the race. His two Caulfield runs have been excellent, he carries a feather weight from the inside gate and gets blinkers for the first time; he’s worth an each-way bet.

Of the rest, SAMOVARE will get some of mine in Race 5 and if she’s beaten then the shout-dodge could be on early.

Shark Bites: Catanach’s Jeweller’s Blue Sapphire Stakes Day Preview

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You’ve got to give it to the Melbourne Racing Club.

Not only has the decision to move the Thousand Guineas to Caulfield Guineas day provided the extra dollop of rich, velvety cream on an already glorious cake, the creation of the Blue Sapphire meant that the Wednesday leg of the three-day Caulfield Cup Carnival was maintained.

I’m sure the executives at Caulfield won’t admit it – publicly anyway – but there’s only one reason why the Club kept the Wednesday meeting going; to encourage that great Australian tradition of the sickie.

You know what I mean. Wednesday’s Catanach’s Jeweller’s Blue Sapphire Stakes meeting has had a big red circle around it in your diary for months now. Maybe even a long standing “appointment” written in code. Go on. Admit it.

Whether it’s skipping work, university, your Great Aunty’s funeral, or your son’s starring role in Malvern High School’s adaptation of Cats, we all have something we’re willing to forego to celebrate the fact that we’re Australians, it’s Wednesday and there’s a bloody great race meeting on.


While you sort out your excuse for leaving that board meeting early on Wednesday, I’ll handle the form to give you a head start on a couple to consider.

Although last start five-length Benalla maiden winner VILLERMONT looks awfully hard to beat in race 3, give some consideration to CIRCOMO at $14. Circomo has been thumping the line in maiden races over shorter distances and was heavily backed to win a similar race at Flemington a fortnight ago before being withdrawn with a minor issue. Villermont may well win the race, but Circomo is not without a chance.

Surely FLYING JESS gets her chance to break through this preparation in race 5. The John Moloney trained mare is absolutely flying this preparation and put up a mighty final 600m at Moonee Valley last start when chasing I Am A Star off a tempo that didn’t suit. She’s ready now as is PROMPT RESPONSE.

I was fortunate enough to be at Lindsay Park Euroa a couple of weeks ago for a gallop morning and FORMALITY really caught my eye. The filly had the better of Alizee and Champagne Cuddles in Sydney before a tough run in the Golden Rose, she will be very hard to beat in race 6, the G3 Blue Sapphire Stakes.

Shark Bites: Ladbrokes Caulfield Guineas Day Preview

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I was casually strolling through the Medallion Bar at Caulfield on Hyland Race Colours Underwood Stakes Day, minding my own business, with half an eye on the time so I didn’t miss the first.

As I’d tipped in this very blog, I was very keen on South Aussie Steel Frost and I was determined to kick my day off the right way.

Mates tell me that I have a love / late relationship with time – so often do I test the boundaries of punctuality that I must surely enjoy it – but even at my most tardy I’d be at The Heath with 15 minutes to spare before race one; perfect.

“Shark! Shark! Have you got a minute mate?” said an unfamiliar voice from the bar.

Now I’m an affable fellow, friendly, accommodating, occasionally willing to indulge the drunken ramblings of a stranger at the risk of errant spittle, so given the day was only young I figured that this was a low percentage risk I could take to lend an ear to a fellow punter.

And that, friends, is where my perfect plan came crashing down.

Not only did this gent want to wax lyrical about former glories – at least they were mine, mostly of the Get On variety – he dragged over a couple of mates fresh from Swan Street and the Tigers after-party to complete what was the finest pincer move since the Battle of Stalingrad (look it up, classic pincer).

I watched the clock tick away over the lead pest’s right shoulder. I watched Will Clarken on the big screen. I watched the field leave the gates. I watched Steel Frost win.

“Oh sorry mate – did you want to have a bet?” said my new chum.

His parting words, though frustratingly vapid in that moment, may yet pay off – for all of us –  this Saturday.

“Mate,” he said, dropping his voice and dragging me closer by the elbow like any proper racetrack tout about to deliver a fair dinkum street corner tip.

“My mate owns a bit of Gallic Chieftain. He’s going to the Herbert Power, you know what to do Shark.”

By that I doubt he meant relay that tip to all MRC members, but hey, I like to share.

My best for Ladbrokes Caulfield Guineas Day are;

R8 No. 16 CATCHY

Shark Bites: Hyland Race Colours Underwood Stakes Preview

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At the risk of going the early crow, I have had some fair dinkum amazing days on the punt on Underwood Stakes day.

Hyland Race Colours Underwood Stakes Preview – Tips by the Shark

At the risk of going the early crow, I have had some fair dinkum amazing days on the punt on Hyland Race Colours Underwood Stakes day.

My run probably began with a little mare called Rewaaya. I think I shouted my then girlfriend’s parents (now my in-laws) Chinese after the mare on the 2006 Rupert Clarke. Nothing turns opinions faster than a good lemon chicken and I was Golden Boy from that day forth.

Then there was Sunburnt Land into Weekend Hussler into Orange County in 2008 when a mate was reduced to tears as the latter hit the line. He loved Orange County so much that he decided to go and shake trainer Brian Mayfield-Smith’s hand after the race, Brian snubbed him and broke his heart.

Then there was 2010 when I nailed the Big 6 thanks in part to So You Think and Response landing their respective legs as one-out picks.

Unfortunately, after that self indulgent trip down memory lane we are pretty much guaranteed to get nowhere near it on Sunday. So if you thought you’d be getting a decent tip from this blog I apologise in advance.

But for those of you that still have faith that this plucky silver fox still can turn on the magic, let’s have a look at this Sunday’s card.

I think I’ll open the shoulders early with South Aussie raider STEEL FROST (R1. No. 5). Trainer Will Clarken is a genius with a tried horse and has this ex-NSW bushwhacker racing like Phar Lap – I’m jumping on the bandwagon.

We’re getting $2 to find out if the best filly in Australia CATCHY (R5 No. 1) can run 1400m…I’m happy to take that bet despite the resistance likely to come from the so far unbeaten Shoals.

It’s a similar story with HARTNELL (R7 No. 1) in the G1 Underwood Stakes. He’s arguably the second best horse in Australia and we’re getting $1.90 about him in a race where Kerrin McEvoy can control the speed and dominate from the front. Surely none of these Cups and Plate bound rivals will sacrifice themselves in the first 400m to bring that plan unstuck?

TOSEN STARDOM (R8 No. 4) comes back from WFA racing in a race where Darren Weir is likely to have him peaking third-up. $6 is a good price for a horse twice placed at G1 level over the Caulfield 1400m. LAND OF PLENTY (No. 16) is the best roughie in the race.

If you’ve had a decent day of it come the last, save a few shekels for my girl OCEAN EMBERS (R9 No. 10) and hope she runs to her best Caulfield form – I’ll go absolutely nuts if she wins, follow me to the bar!

Unbeaten Caulfield trained colt Merchant Navy returns on Saturday

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Unbeaten Caulfield trained colt Merchant Navy returns on Saturday, in the $150,750 Group 3 H.D.F. McNeil Stakes (1200m), as he begins his quest for Ladbrokes Caulfield Guineas glory this spring.

Unbeaten Caulfield trained colt Merchant Navy returns on Saturday, in the $150,750 Group 3 H.D.F. McNeil Stakes (1200m), as he begins his quest for Ladbrokes Caulfield Guineas glory this spring. Check out his preparation for a first-up assault at the Ladbrokes Jump-Outs links below.

2017 Annual General Meeting Notice

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The Annual General Meeting of members of the Victoria Amateur Turf Club (incorporating the Melbourne Racing Club) will be held in the Committee Room, 3rd Floor, Rupert Clarke Grandstand, Caulfield Racecourse, Station Street, Caulfield on Thursday 28 September at 6pm.

The business of the Annual General Meeting will include:

  1. Confirmation of the minutes of 2016 Annual General Meeting;
  2. The Chairman’s Report;
  3. The Treasurer’s Report;
  4. To approve the Financial Statements of the year ended 30 June 2017;
  5. Confirmation of the Executive Committee;
  6. To appoint the Club’s Auditors’; and
  7. General Business.

The Club encourages all MRC Members to attend the meeting. For more information on the Annual General meeting, please contact or call 1300 GO RACE (46 7223).

The 2017 Annual Report is provisionally scheduled to be published on 19 September 2017.