the Australian racing calendar can be beset by parochialism and distracting pop-ups, but it’s still a gigantic assortment.
But like any buffet, too many options can create stomach aches.
If life and the racing calendar were simple, Nature Band would not have spun its wheels at Randwick yesterday. He would have stayed in melbourne after his courage Black caviar lightning second and had another crack at Internal Affairs see you next Saturday Newmarket Handicap.
If there had been only one great Guineas yesterday’s race, connections from Deep would have been spared the temptation of a no doubt desperate dash to be at Flemington. They would have scratched out of Randwick and bided their time.
Likewise, but in reverse, if there had only been Australian Guineas and not also the Randwick Guineas, Converge and Anamoe would have been to Flemington with Hitotsu and Profondo, and not in the mud at Randwick where the “super colt” Anamoe has once again soiled his CV.
Options can be a blessing, no doubt.
They gave Annabel Neasham a perfect backup for Zaaki; too wet at Randwick, taken to Flemington for the Blame and the perfect hit-out for the All Star Mile.
On the other hand, the towering presence of the $5 million All-Star Mile may have given Neasham a sense of urgency with Ranked at the top. To present the import as a potential wildcard, Neasham ran it on a heavy 50 at Randwick last Saturday against the best mudrunners in the country.
Top Rated was the first within a mile. It seemed like a breathtaking challenge. He ran a brave fifth but Hugh Bowman quickly disassembled before returning to the scale and it appeared that something was wrong. Neasham assures us that the horse is fine.
Neasham probably would have preferred fewer options and less stress with Top Rated but there it is, the shimmering All-Star and that wild card Willy Wonka.
I guess Chris Waller regrets running Nature Strip in the Challenge stakes. The trail was a heavy 9 but had been soggy and trampled for a week.
Waller resisted Newmarket for three years because Nature Strip would bear a big tax and instead took a WFA path to the T.J. Smith at Randwick.
Nature Strip is a good wet tracker but he is an older horse. Horses change. They are tired of dragging their feet in the mud. They begin to “turn up the sound”.
For many decades the Newmarket would not have been an option, it would have been the ONLY option for a horse like Nature Strip who undoubtedly deserved a chance to win it at a significant but not impossible weight.
Waller has made no secret of his desire to separate Home Affairs and Nature Strip. Home Affair nail polish protection is important to Waller and Coolmore – but not to us.
Too many alternatives – there were two potential options for Nature Strip at Randwick yesterday – allowed Waller to play the conservative hand.
On the one hand, it was a blessing for the Profondo team that the Australian Guineas existed on the same day as Randwick’s Guineas. Sydney’s relentless water has owners and trainers looking for alternatives.
But it made a desperate surge; maybe not “desperate” but hasty, unorthodox.
Profondo had tried Sydney on Monday, hit the road midweek, then faced a wide gate first on his first left-handed trial, a jockey unfamiliar with Flemington and the biggest surprise of all, a rain-soaked track.
It was a shipwreck.
Profondo was posted, lost his action on the last corner and was knocked out of the race by the singing Irishman Robbie Dolan.
The strange thing about this failure at the border was that Profondo’s coach Richard Litt and the irrepressible unity of Maher/Eustace train to avoid such tricky scenarios.
Hitotsu and Profondo are different from the Australian sprint hordes and have been trained accordingly. They are Japanese breeding with big lungs and a natural physical form.
They are trained to select targets, not to achieve optimal conditions.
I have no idea what technology Litt has, but Maher/Eustace are very tech savvy.
Computer-generated data is essential for measuring fitness and readiness.
The betting market couldn’t understand Hitotsu first because bettors didn’t understand this more. European/Japanese style. How do we know he’s fit?
Ciaron and Dave were extremely confident and as Profondo lost him, Hitotsu rolled through his gears.
The race is all about romantic quests, but also about risk versus reward.
That’s why Waller will wonder why he trucked Nature Strip back to Sydney and Litt why he went the other way with Profondo.