Welcome to Xmas for punters! The people’s week, the sun we chase, aka Melbourne Cup Week. We start with Derby Day our oldest tradition, our oldest race, won by the immortal Phar Lap. Hopefully most of the punters will be respectful and wear Black and White for this time honoured event, save the colours for Cup Day! The program is mouth-watering and it is wall to wall Group racing with 4 Group 1’s in the middle of the day to wet the whistle. As a punter Derby Day is important for many reasons. It is without a doubt the best racing day of the year, it’s easily the best racing week of the year, and there is no other carnival in world like it. It is also a day where you need to win or finish even otherwise you are pushing the preverbal uphill all week.
I’m proud to say I am attending my 15th Cup week in a row and I am probably more excited than I was before attending my first. The older you get the more responsibilities you have, the less time you have to yourself, and events like these seem decades away not weeks. Before starting a family I use to attend most of the major carnivals around Australia but now it’s down to this grand slam week. I know how good a cup week can be, I get to see people who I now classify as family, James Boags never tastes bad, and I am toey to watch the race that I have dreamt about winning since I was at the age of my eldest son (5).
The saying Chase The Sun for me relates directly back to cup week. My sun or motivation when I am at work is thinking about being at cup week. Ironically my first carnival, and up until only a couple of years ago, every time the horses headed out onto the Flemington straight Chase The Sun by Planet Funk would be playing. Nothing beats spring, so get trackside, watch the next chapter unfold, enjoy everything that is Melbourne, enjoy everything that Flemington has to offer, and of course enjoy the first Tuesday in November as a nation holds it’s breath.
Despite drawing barrier 15 Sully is my clear Derby pick who represents great each way value at $8. His last start 3rd in The Group 1 Champion Stakes at Royal Randwick over 2000m on the 7th of October screamed out Derby! Still 8th at the 400m he didn’t have a clear run at them but still managed to hit the line nicely and only finished 1.6 lengths off the winner and Derby favourite Ace High. The long Flemington straight is perfect, Hugh Bowman can ride a winner, and this New Zealand trained stunner looks perfectly poised to peak here on Saturday third up from a spell. Chips In best each way bet 6 units the win 4 units the place at $8. The star player has just arrived.
Despite only being 3 years old Ace High is tough as old boots and there will be plenty of punters pushing the chips in on him this Saturday. His win in The Champion Stakes was clinical leading them from start to finish in a highly competitive field. He gave them the slip on the turn and he bravely fended off the challenges. My concern is the extra 500m. It was a tough effort and he looked like he was spent at the end of the 2000m. The long Flemington straight may leave him a sitting duck, especially if headquarters is favouring the swoopers towards the later part of the day. Barrier 3 should ensure a forward and prominent spot, Tye Angland is in from, and David Payne is a champion trainer. Definitely top 4 but he may be caught in the shadows.
Selections: Sully (6) – Weather With You (7) – Tangled (2) – Ace High (1)