The Australian Cup

Hello everyone

The Australian Cup will be run and won not this Saturday, but next Saturday, the same day as the Newmarket Handicap. The race is a WFA 2000m Classic, but this year it looks like it might be won by a jumper, or a nine-year-0ld or even a sharp but not really very good three-year-old.  Here is market as it stands now…


Protectionist can’t get of his own way at 2000m and is a very false favourite. Has anyone even heard of Hartnell? Happy Trails should be favourite and is the early tip, but really, he is not very good despite winning several Group One races. Akzar is a Warrnambool Cup winner that loves the wet and maybe has a future as a jumper. Contributer won’t come for it, but he should! Then the rest that are not three-year-olds are just battler handicappers. If you had a good WFA horse like Happy Trails, this race would be perfect. But he looks the only real 2000m WFA class horse in the field.

But it never used to be like this. Many great horses have won this race in the past, but I fear the glory days of the Australian Cup are behind us.

But then I actually did the research and something jumped out at me…

Champions actually have only started winning this race in the ‘1970s and ‘1980s. Phar Lap nor Tulloch ever won the Australian Cup. Peter Pan no. Bernborough no. Carbine no. Galilee no. Kingston Town no. So perhaps only recently have the better horses started contesting the race and this year, all the better horses are going to be in Sydney.

Anyway, enjoy some videos of great Australian Cup wins of the modern era.

Northerly 2001

Northerly 2003

Interestingly, in 2002, Northerly ran second to some horse called Old Comrade and thus was denied three Australian Cups in a row!

Vo Rouge beats a sensational field 1989

Lonhro 2004. Makybe Diva was in this field and never even got close

But then the next year (2005) Makybe Diva won the race in time three second quicker than Lonhro the previous year. This was the Diva’s second best ever win.

Then last year the champ Fiorente beat a very average field but it was still a great win!

The year before Fiorente won the Australian Cup, Super Cool, a poor WFA horse beat Fiveandahalfstar (a future jumper) with Tanby back in third. This was a very poor field.

So this year we are with Happy Trails all the way unless Gai decided to back up Wandjina after the Guineas. Other than that, there does not seem to be much quality in the race at all.

Good luck and stay tuned.


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Who was Duncan?

Hello everyone


This week, the chief historical adviser at A Turf Fascination (me), sold a surfboard for a slab of Melbourne Bitter cans. The board was old, but it was faithful and the new owner will get plenty of use from it. From this slab of Melbourne, I used one six pack to purchase a cord that connects a pa to an i pod from an electrician mate and I used two six packs to purchase a board cover from another mate. That leaves one six pack to drink which is what is happening right now. Four people, with me as the common connection, three separate deals and all four parties more than happy. There is something in this? How can we incorporate payment with beer into the economy?  A plumber comes to your house and does a hundred dollar job, and rather than go through the pain of sending an invoice, receiving an invoice, going to the post office and sending a cheque, what about two slabs on the day? As Australians we mostly spend a great deal of our money on beer, so why not start using it as a trading commodity? Just a thought?


Warwick Farm

3.8. Speak Fondly. Sharp two-year-old that is going really well. Recent trial was good and a few of the others out of the trial have since won.

4.2. First Seal. Should beat Gai’s two here. I am going to back First Seal and take a quinella First Seal, Supara and Adrift.

6.5. Contributer. Unless Contributer has a flat one, it is hard to see any of the horses he flogged last time turning the tables on him at Warwick Farm. 2. Boban won this race last year beating It’s A Dundeel. Would you back It’s A Dundeel in this field? But overall, Contributer beat most of his rivals in the Apollo very easily including numbers 1,2,4,6,7,8,10,12 and 14. The only others are stayers resuming that would need a minor miracle to get past Contributer. He will be better suited over the 1600m and he looks one to follow for the autumn. Bad luck looks his only rival.

7.2. Diamond Drille. Loves the cut out of the track and she is going exceptionally well. $11 looks well and truly overs.


Here is a bit of a crack at the entire card at Caulfield

Race 1.

3. Galaxy Pegasus. Won first up last time in by seven lengths. A similar effort here will see him being hard to beat.

Race 2.

Only 1,2,3 and 4 can win so there is your box trifecta. But having to choose one, perhaps 2. Politeness on the each way. She is pretty consistent.

Race 3.

Two here. 7. Samartested is at $15 despite being in terrific form. 8. Bottle of Smoke is much shorter but is also in great form. Back both.

Race 4.

5. Alpine Eagle looks like it could be anything. He flies along and has a turn of speed at the end of his races. Maybe also back 1. Moonovermanhattan on the each way. He is a big grey and you can’t let the greys go around without you.

Race 5.

Futurity Stakes

There appears only two horses with a chance in this race; 1. Dissident and 7. Driefontein, but really it looks a one act affair. We know what we are going to get with Driefontein, but is her best good enough to hold off Dissident? Perhaps not. Dissident looks to get the perfect sit behind Driefontein and Entirely Platinum and he will most likely be far too strong at the end of the 1400m. It is a shame that there is no real competition in this field considering this was once one of the richest races in Australia and has been won by the likes of Phar Lap, Ajax, Bernborough, Todman, Sky High, Gunsynd, Manikato and even More Joyous. The best horse usually wins this race and Dissident is clearly the best horse.

Win bet – 1. Dissident

Quinella 1. Dissident and 7. Driefontein

Race 6.

Only three chances here 1. Protectionist 2. Happy Trails and 12. Spillway. Spillway each way for mine with the three of them in a quinella.

Race 7.

Oakleigh Plate

This is by the far the hardest of the four Group One races with 17 horses over a spread in the weights of just The four horses that look good value and have major chances are 5. Shamal Wind, 6. Vain Queen, 7. Lord of the Sky and 16. Earthquake. Earthquake and Lord of the Sky will be up the front while Shamal Wind and Vain Queen will be storming home. It looks a tough task for the front runners, and as such we can (with huge hesitation) eliminate Earthquake at the odds. She is a multiple winner at Caulfield, but up on the speed looks to be a place many will want to be, and as such the pace will be hot and something will most likely swoop from the back. But we can keep in Lord of the Sky because he is faster than Earthquake and is three times the odds. He might just turn in front, kick and be hard to get past, but we will make him pick three. Pick two is Vain Queen, as she might be anything. She can lead or take a sit and she has the turn of foot to blow this field away. However she is untried at this level and she might just have a few traffic problems. She can be saved on with a small win bet. The big bet is each way Shamal Wind. She is in great form, she runs well fresh and she has been aimed at this race for three years. She will need luck but at the double figures odds she is more than worth an each way bet.

Each Way bet – 6. Shamal Wind

Box Trifecta 5,6,7,16

Race 8.

Blue Diamond

The best horse usually wins this race and the best horse easily is 8. Fontition. But is she tapped out? Have we seen her best when a few of the others still have improvement to come? It is unlikely, but this is the only reason this filly is not odds on. If Gai or Hawkes trained this filly she would be $1.80. Anyhow, she is the clear top pick and is the clear win bet. The next hardest to beat may just be 2. Of the Brave and 10. Flamboyant Lass. Of the Brave showed a great turn of speed in the colts and geldings prelude while Flamboyant Lass looks a readymade racehorse and she will no doubt improve on her third to Fontition last start.

Win bet – 8. Fontition

Quinella 2,8,10

Race 9.

I watched 2. Spurtonic school over some jumps the other morning. It might just switch him right on. He is a winner this track and trip and is the one for me with minimum confidence.

Good luck and stay tuned.


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Wenona Girl Vs Sky High

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Fancy having two two of the best 15 horses Australia has ever seen, not just race against each other and finish in the top three together on 13 occasions! That is what happened in the early ‘1960s when all of Sydney and eventually Melbourne were hooked on the rivalry between Wenona Girl and Sky High. Sky High was the immaculately bred colt by Star Kingdom out of Flight’s Daughter who incidentally was Flight’s Daughter! Wenona Girl was by the respected sire Wilkes out of a mare named Golden Chariot. The pair may have raced each other more than the 13 times about to be detailed, but they finished in the top three together on these about-to-be-discussed 13 occasions. Overall Wenona Girl raced 68 times for 27 wins while Sky High raced 55 times for 29 wins. Sky High was the full brother to Skyline who won a Golden Slipper and AJC Derby. The colt also sired four stakes winners in Australia and a  few good horses in America. At stud Wenona Girl gave birth to seven foals of whom four were winners including the brilliant Special Girl (by Todman). Enjoy the tale of the tape…

Clash 1 – Golden Slipper 23/6/1960.

Sky High was the 4-7 favourite ($1.57) whereas Wenona Girl was 5-2 ($3.50). Sky High bolted in. There were just five runners.


Clash 2 – Sires’ 9/4/1960

Two weeks later Wenona Girl squared the ledger and made it one all from two races. She won by half a length at 6-1 from Sky High who ran second at 2-11 ($1.18).

Clash 3 – Hobartville Stakes 20/8/1960

As three-year-olds in three Classic races, Wenona Girl beat Sky High in each race. In the Hobartville the mare was 4-1 and Sky High was around evens. Wenona Girl won by a long head.

Clash 4 – Canterbury Guineas 3/9/1960

Wenona was at 9-4 ($3.25) and Sky High was at 7-4 ($2.75) but they both were beaten by $4 chance and great horse named Persian Lyric. This was the first of three occasions when the two champions both ran a place but neither won.

Clash 5. Rosehill Guineas 17/9/1960

Persian Lyric was odds on to win the Rosehill Guineas after his great win in the Canterbury Guineas…



However the poor punters, had nothing more than a false favourite. Fancy a good horse being odds on in a race that contained two immortal champions. In the Rosehill Guineas Wenona Girl was 9-4 ($3.25) and Sky High was 4-1. Wenona Girl won by three-quarters of a length with Sky High back in second and Persian Lyric in third.

Clash 6 – Canterbury Stakes 12/8/1961

Back as four-year-olds, the two champions would only have on race during this season. The  race was the Canterbury Stakes and it would be the start of four in a row for Sky High. In the Canterbury Stakes of 1961, The pair were the 5-4 equal favourites ($2.25)  and Sky High won easily by a length and a half.

Clash 7  – Canterbury Stakes 4/8/1962

This race was a year after the previous, but the result was the same with Sky High beating Wenona Girl in the ’62 Canterbury Stakes by half a length. Sky High was the 8-11 ($1.72) favourite while Wenona Girl was 2-1. It appeared that Sky High had come back the better older horse, but that is not entirely accurate.

Clash 8 – Warwick Stakes 18/8/1962

Sky High jumped as the odds on fav and won accordingly. Wenona Gril was 9-2 ($5.50) and was well beaten back in third. Sky High now had the advantage over the grand mare, but this advantage would not last forever.


Clash 9 – Sunday Telegraph Handicap 22/9/1962

For some reason both horses ran in this race. Sky High had 60.5kg and was the odds on favourite. Wenona Girl had just 55.5kg and 15-1. Something does not make sense with this market, but the bookies got it right because Sky High again bolted in with Wenona Girl two lengths back in second place. This was four in a row for Sky High over the mare, but he would not finish in front of her again until the following year.

Clash 10 – Lightening Stakes 23/2/1962

In the 1000m Classic down the Flemington straight, the better sprinter Wenona Girl started at 4-1 while the better miler Sky High started as the even money favourite. Wenona Girl won by a length and this was one of her best ever wins.


Clash 11 – Futurity Stakes 9/3/1963

Two weeks after the Lightening, Sky High and Wenona Girl fought out the finish in the Futurity. Sky High despite being on the back end of some Wenona Girl hidings of late, again started the even money favourite while Wenona Girl jumped at 7-2 ($4.50) and won by four lengths!


Clash 12 – Canterbury Stakes 10/8/1963

For the third year in a row the two immortal champions clashed in the Canterbury Stakes. But they both were thrashed by a horse named Kevejon. Sky High was odds on at 8-11 while Wenona was at 2-1. They were starting to get old and this was the second of three races were they both finished in the top three but neither was to win.

Clash 13 – Hill Stakes 14/9/1963

This time the two champions were beaten into second and third by a horse named Toi Port. Sky High ran second at 7-2 ($4.50) while Wenona ran third at 4-1.

Out of 13 races, Sky High finished in front of Wenona Girl seven times and Wenona finished in front of Sky High six times. As far as wins goes… five all!

In the 13 races, Sky High jumped at just under even money on average (around $1.93). Wenona Girl jumped at an average of around 3-1 ($4) which looks exceptional value!

Wenona Girl, when she beat Sky High, beat him by an average of 1.35 lengths in five wins. Sky High beat Wenona Girl by an average of 1.2 lengths in five wins.

You could say it was a pretty close rivalry.

It even made the news when they trialled together.



Good luck and stay tuned.







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Sometimes it is better to lose

Originally posted on A Turf Fascination:

Hello everyone Sometimes it is better to get rolled in the Caulfield Cup rather than win it. This is in regards to winning the Melbourne Cup 17 days later. A winner of the Caulfield Cup can be and often is penalized and given more weight for the Melbourne Cup than they originally had based on the strength of their Caulfield Cup win. For example Might And Power was originally given 52.5kg for the 1997 Melbourne Cup, but after he won the Caulfield Cup that year by 7.5 lengths, he was given a 3.5kg penalty thus giving him a new weight of 56kg. He won the Melbourne Cup by an inch but would have won by three lengths had he not been re-handicapped. Doriemus won the 1995 Melbourne Cup with 52kg, but he was originally given just 49kg however he won the Caulfield Cup and then was given an additional 3kg…

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Ooh aahh Glenn McGrath – you idiot!

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There is debate on the radio as we speak about whether Glenn McGrath has wrecked his international reputation, his legacy and his work for breast cancer by killing an innocent animal. The Hall of Fame fast bowler was pictured on the front page of a Melbourne paper posing with a dead elephant that he had shot and killed in South Africa. This is a dumb thing to do, but he has done nothing to wreck anything, but he has done a  dumb dumb thing. A lot of people have different views, and personally, I would never shoot anything, well maybe a Kardashian in the foot with an air rifle, but never an elephant! Glenn McGrath works hard for breast cancer research and has raised millions. Killing an elephant has nothing to do with saving women in Australia. Also killing an elephant does not reduce the number of test wickets he took or reduce his reputation as a feared fast bowler. Everyone does dumb stuff. What an elephant did to deserve to die is beyond me, but we need to put it into perspective. This was 8 years ago and it is doubtful Glenn McGrath would do it again. There is a scale. At the top are people who torture innocent animals for fun and at the bottom is me who would never hurt anything personally (certainly not a vegetarian). Some people like hunting and some people can’t stomach the thought of it. But please dear readers, don’t feel Glenn McGrath has wrecked his charity work  and his international reputation. He does not deserve to be dragged though the mud for a stupid mistake he made seven years ago. On the other hand, please don’t shoot animal for the sake of it!

Bet-ya this poor bastard wishes he had not tried to shoot a deer…


Sky High vs Wenona Girl discussed later today on A Turf Fascination.

Good luck and stay tuned.

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The shallow end of the gene pool

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They breed, they vote and they are among us. What type of deadbeat would get off on torturing innocent baby animals like the bogans exposed on the Four Corners story in relation to the greyhound industry. Not all caught on camera can be quite classified in this shallow end of the gene pool, but the idiots who were taunting the dead / dying little piglet, well it is scary to think they get the same say in naming our leaders and representatives as the rest of us. Maybe we need an iq test before people get the chance to vote. These barbaric animal torturers demonstrated on national television that they have smaller brains than the greyhounds they are trying to teach to be killers. We have all seen and read about the live baiting scandal in the greyhound industry, and after this wisdom, it won’t be mentioned on AFT again. But please, why say to a mauled dying piglet ‘ha ha ha, are you dead  yet? Are you dead yet?’ Yes there are monsters that torture kids, and things going on in the world right now can almost equate to genocide, so who cares about a few little baby animals in peaceful old Australia? Well we all do! We as Aussies can’t prevent what happens a hemisphere away in the name of a patch of sand that some bloke may or not not have visited, but we can just go through the day, with minimal effort, without killing innocent beings and without upsetting too many people. The main problem I am addressing is that the men who torture baby pigs and ducks, then with their mates stand over the screaming dying animal and try and insult it with their broken English despite having never left their home town, well it is not right that these people get a say in how things are done in Australia.



There are six Group races in Sydney and Melbourne this weekend (three in each city) and there are only two that seem ‘less than impossible’ in regards to trying to pick a winner. Catkins looks very hard to beat (with the price to boot) in the Millie Fox at Randwick, while the in the Vanity at Flemington, Wawail will be short and very tough to beat also. The other four races including the Group One Lightening are very hard to decipher. The Lightening looks a two horse race, and as it is a Group One race and we are Australian, so we will have to have a bet. But which of Deep Field and Lankan Rupee do we back? We could have ten bucks on both, and hope there is no blow out and get a $3 or $4 dollar return on our $20 investment, but again, that is not the Aussie way.


Black Caviar Lightening Stakes (race 7)

1. Lankan Rupee is flying, is bombproof and is proven at Group One level. 5. Deep Field is not. But Deep Field might just be better. If they both produce their best who will win? We have not seen Deep Field’s best but we have seen Lankan Rupee’s best. But what if we have seen Deep Field’s best? His Group Two win up the straight on Derby Day might be as good as he can go. All reports are it is not, but we still are yet to see him do any better. On the other hand, Lankan Rupee has won this race in the past and is a little gelding with very few issues. Deep Field is the multi-million dollar stallion with the world at his feet. There are clear arguments for each side, but based on the ‘lack of mystery’ that comes with Lankan Rupee, he gets the nod from me. He is $2.50 so perhaps he can be backed to win, and take the quinella with Deep Field as insurance. The quniella will pay about $1.50 so it is almost as if you are getting $2.50 a win and $1.50 a place, assuming that you feel it is a two horse race. Both horses are set to run well and if you asked 100 experts you would probably get a US Congress like vote of 99 – 101 or even 100 all. Lankan Rupee for mine.

The Vanity (race 3)

2. Wawail all the way. First up she looked as if she was going to win by five lengths, then she looked like being beaten before coming back to win going away by over a length. She will have improved out of the run and the stable she calls home is in fantastic form. Hardest to beat are the other class runners 1. Set Square and 4. Maastricht, both of whom will be looking for much further.

C.S. Hayes Stakes (race 6)

While we have to name a top pick, which I will, but it has to be pointed out that this is a very open affair with plenty of value on offer. The top pick is 8. Wandjina, but 3. Chivalry and 5. San Nicasio are also both at double figure odds and can be backed. Wandjina was at $12, but has been smashed into $9. He gets weight relief off horses that he has beaten easily in the past, and there is even an argument to suggest he was one of the best three runs in the Cox Plate. He can jump out of the ground late, and he can also not try. But at $9 he has the class and the ability to, should he show his best, blow this field away. Chivalry will be coming from the back with Wandjina while San Nicasio will be up the front. Over all, if we can somehow find a formula to back all three, we look pretty well covered in the run, but Wandjina to win at the near double figure odds.


Millie Fox Stakes (race 3)

Despite the fact that 1. Catkins can be her most vulnerable second up, it is hard to see, with just 57kg, any of her opposition turning the tables on her from her last race. That rules out the 4 and the 5. The 2 is not good enough, neither is the 6, and the 8 has done nothing to say she is a threat to this class of horse. That leaves 3. Avoid Lightening and 7. Mardi. Avoid Lighting is a gun but likes a wet track. Catkins likes a wet track also, but she is well proven on good ground. Avoid Lightening will not get a wet track and she has never won over 1300m. She of course can pop up and win, but the simple fact is that with just 1.5kg of Catkins, she will have to be at her absolute best to win. He absolute best normally comes second up. The other one is Mardi and she is the second pick. She has never finished worse than 2nd and she will be up the front which is the place to be with the rail out 6m. Mardi might just kick away and give Catkins something to catch. Win bet on Catkins and an each way small bet on Mardi.

Silver Slipper Stakes (race 5)

The short answer is… a complete and utter mystery. The most experienced horse in the field, the top weight is at $21 while a horse that one its last start (the 7) is at 150-1. The 8 is unbeaten and is $201. Then there is the 4 that is also unbeaten and is at $10. After this, there are three left and they are all around the $3 mark and all would have equal support throughout Australia at this early stage. Perhaps the tip is 3. Paceman, a spring winner over a smart Waterhouse filly that has since run well. He has trialled nicely behind a two-year-old that should have won last week and the Snowden’s have mentioned that he has only improved. 6. Ottoman (a filly) was brilliant in her debut win and all the talk at the track is that 5. Headwater might be a champion. Paceman is the tip, but maybe $1 a win on the $101 and $201 chances is not a terrible idea.

Hobartville Stakes (race 6)

It sounds like another cop out, but this race might just be harder than the Silver Slipper! Rather than try and figure out which of the Group One horses will be in the right spot in running, what is fit, what is looking for further and what has been set for this race, it is easier to simply establish that 5. Swaynesse is unbeaten first up. He almost won the Cox Plate, and despite the 1400m being short of his best, he will have residual fitness from back to back 2000m runs at Group One level in the spring. He is the tip at $8. The other one that is worth a mention is 10. Meursault who was brilliant last start, is fit and will thrive over the 1400m. He is not a Group One performer yet, as many of his rivals are, but he has an edge in fitness and this may just be his Grand Final.

Good luck and stay tuned.

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Just keep on watching

Hello everyone

Here is a newly found video of Bernborough’s 1946 Ahearn Memorial win. The race is now know as the Doomben 10,000. In A Turf Fascination’s opinion, this is the greatest win in the history of Australian racing…

Another great film…

One more…

Bernborough vs Black Caviar at WFA over 1200m up the Flemington straight would have been a fair race! These two horses are the two fastest ever clocked over a furlong, but Bernborough OF COURSE went faster with bigger weight. At 1200m maybe Black Caviar by a head, but any further and there would be no betting Bernborough.

Good luck and stay tuned.


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