Its been racings best of weeks, featuring Saturdays Doomben 10,000, and the Bill Whittaker Award, tarnished by worst of weeks due to the fall of the Aquanita eight headed by Robert Smerdon.
The Doomben 10,000, with Redzel out to re-establish himself as our top 1200-metre dazzler in a clash with six other individual group 1 winners, promises to be the top race over the distance this season, surpassing others like The Everest, Newmarket at Flemington and Randwicks T.J. Smith.
Great horses are those that spice up the turf and there were none better than Tulloch. Adding to a great week, the great stallion was memorialised in Tulloch (Slattery Media), Ken Linnetts book that won the Whittaker award, named in honour of the former Sydney Morning Herald chief racing writer Bill Whittaker, last Monday.
The downside of the week comes from the Aquanita Eight found guilty of 271 counts by the RAD Board under a variety of racing rules, primarily relating to race day treatments.
Smerdon, a prominent Victorian trainer in recent decades, was disqualified for life and the highest profile recipient for top ups of illegal substances on race day, while Greg Nelligan, sprung giving Lovani treatment at Flemington last spring, was outed for the same term.
Mentioned in their breaches were six month bans relating to the administration of Vicks VapoRub to a horse.
RAD board chairman Judge John Bowman declared there was a “litany of brazen attempts to cheat and to obtain an unfair advantage over many years by a well-organised team.”
Getting it into perspective, the Aquanita Eight were looking for an edge and what advantage their top ups produced would be intriguing. How did the treated horses actually perform?
Regardless, those responsible were guilty of breaches in the rules of racing and deserved the penalties. Once being "warned off" or disqualified for anyone steeped in the turf was like denying a Christian entrance to heaven. But now with heightened media coverage it is the loss of income that matters.
Some have said that the Aquanita case is racing's greatest scandal. For the numbers involved it deserves consideration but the words Fine Cotton and Big Philou will resound longer than Aquanita.
Still the administration in Victoria should hardly take pride over the issue. How were so many race day treatments allowed to go undetected?
Often trainers are looking for additional "help" to get the best out of horses, yet we get so many superb equine athletes like Redzel that dont require more than the rules permit.
Redzel has been downed in two of his last three starts and being favourite again on Saturday deserves a query. The Doomben 10,000, a title that dates back to 1933, has taken the role once held by the BTC Cup being on the similar date over the same 1200-metre distance.
Black Caviar is the only top of the market sprinter to take the Doomben 10,000-BTC Cup in the last nine years. Redzel scored in 2017 starting at $9.
Inside barriers from Doomben's 1200-metre start are important. From the six draw, jockey Kerrin McEvoy can make full use of Redzels tactical speed. I think hell win because of it.
The main danger is In Her Time, who was the victim of a bad ride last start and doesnt have as kind a gate (eight) or the same early pace.
Certainly gate 13 takes the edge off Le Romain, whose gallant second last start to Trapeze Artist in the All Aged Stakes at Randwick was superior to Redzel being runner-up to the three-year-old in the T.J. Smith at the same venue.
Of course, the T.J. Smith was named after Tommy Smith, the legendary trainer of Tulloch, about which Linnett has put together an outstanding recollection of his career and those that made him.
The Whittaker Award for which Bob Charley, the former AJC chairman, and bookmaker Rob Waterhouse are promoters, is awarded to a book based on its enhancing of the reader's knowledge of racing history.
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