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Saturday, November 8, 2008

Flemington Wraps Up...On To Perth

In the Patinack, Apache Cat went early to the lead, but then struggled, and finished well out of the money (in eighth), as Swick ($36.50 win) nosed out Turffontein ($19.60 place) with Sunburnt Land ($3.90 show) fleshing out the $2,033.20 trifecta. Sunburnt Land looked a winner, but once again lost a squeaker in the last steps. I ignored Swick (at my peril, I now realize) based on his extremely poor outing in last weekend’s Salinger—he finished tenth of thirteen, six lengths back behind Hot Danish, so difficult to understand his turn-around, except that Bart Cummings is a master trainer; Swick was his 251st G1 win.

You have to wonder if 6-year-old Apache Cat has lost a step, as he has never finished this badly in the past two years—maybe a barrier trial would have helped his fitness level. Very disappointing. It was announced after the race that he will not race in Hong Kong as previously announced, but will head for the Summer Carnival at Perth (where he may now meet up with Takeover Target).

All Silent ($14.70 win) backed up after his victory last week to rather easily win the G1 Emirates, with Sea Battle ($6.30 place) taking second, the mare Mimi Lebrock ($7.70 show) third, and Bank Robber fourth. In winning his first G1, All Silent emerges from the shadow of 1/2 sister Private Steer, a multiple-G1 winner (Stradbroke, Doncaster).

Can I say once again how much I hate Twinspires at times? At 12:30 a.m. EST, just as I went to place my trifecta bet on the G3 Queen Elizabeth Stakes their site went down so I missed on cashing when Capecover beat Light Vision and Baughurst, paying $108.90. Urgh!


Wind Gatherer said...

What is drug testing like down under? Are these form reversals from Cummings common?

Valerie Grash said...

I don't know about drug testing (since they apparently are supposed to be drug-free), but the form reversal thing may be characteristic of some trainers more than others (maybe Steve or Anne will chime in here). It didn't click until today that Swick, like Viewed before him, had not performed so well last out, so maybe Bart Cummings is one of those trainers who have his horses held back in lead-up races to larger prizes. I'll have to watch for that in the future, for sure.

STEVE BREM said...

Everything is routinely pre-race tested (horses must be on-track two hours prior - unlike most USA tracks, many horses ship in on the day) and normally all winners and a random selection of beaten horses and horses of interest tested post-race. There is also random unannounced testing for in-competition horses, i.e. the stewards come to your stable without warning and take samples. For starters, no steroids, no Bute, no Lasix and it is illegal to administer anything on raceday. I'd have to write a book to explain the nature of racing down here but two mile flat racing is the extreme end of the spectrum and exists almost in isolation; I think there are only five such races left on the calendar. So it can be unpredictable what will run this trip best, many horses are found out for stamina. Other very important factors in form: racing is held on various different tracks week-by-week, not 20 - 50 day meets on the same tight ovals like you guys have. So track characteristics and even direction are constantly changing and races tend to be run at mixed tempos compared with the more speed-oriented American racing pattern. If some horses don't get races run to suit they are ineffective. Our major tracks are all turf and horses are also quite sensitive to variations in the going which regularly occur. Field sizes are often bigger here and if you watch the closeness of our racing you will see example after example of horses failing to get clear running. Cummings is an old-school trainer (he's 80!) who has always taken a long, slow methodical approach to the conditioning of his horses, but he is definitely a strategic planner. You can't win these races unless you are. In the case of Swick, the stewards reported after his race on 1 November that the horse was very agitated before the start and failed to produce his best. In contrast to yesterday's race, on 1 November the field raced down the grandstand side rail and Swick was cluttered up; on 8 November the field raced down the flat side rail and Swick was able to get his favoured clear running and deliver his characteristic late run.

Valerie Grash said...

Steve, how much does it affect horses running clockwise and counter-clockwise? Do most horses handle it? I can imagine some may have difficulty switching leads?

STEVE BREM said...

If you look at the success of Sydney-trained horses (clockwise) at Flemington (counter-clockwise), there are plenty which adapt well, but equally there are those which never do. In NZ there are tracks in both directions in the top half of the North Island so you get left- and right-handed trained horses competing amongst themselves regularly. Some will show a career preference for one direction or the other. To be most effective, a horse has to get onto the near side lead. A graphic example of this is All Silent in the G1 Emirates - he's onl his 'Sydney' leg for the first half of the stretch, then watch him switch to his 'Melbourne' leg about the 200m mark and see what happens!