9 Nov 2006, Comments Off on Melbourne cup: The good, the bad and the ugly

Melbourne cup: The good, the bad and the ugly

Author: Helen

Image from The AGE

After what we’re used to with footballers (year round stoush) and cricketers (behaving like kinder kids), and because we know jockeys are usually no better than they should be – elbowing, bumping, shoving– I watched open-mouthed as Damien Oliver, outridden by about a second by Yasunari Iwata on Delta Blues, reached out and clasped his hand…and they galloped side by side, like that, for a few seconds, then riding back to scale, the camera caught Damien Oliver’s face, beaming with pleasure and congratulation at the serious and overwhelmed Iwata, who looked like he still couldn’t believe what he’d just done.

Then Oliver’s generous remarks:

“I thought maybe I could pick up the winner, but when I got to him (Delta Blues), he found again….I’m sure they didn’t know how much improvement was in this horse…it’s a fantastic feat for the Japanese to come here and quinella the Cup. It’s extraordinary…you’ve got to admire the Japanese what they’ve done, to quinella the Cup. They (Delta Blues and Pop Rock) really got away from the others. It shows they’re a really good pair of horses and it shows the depth of the Japanese horses.”

Did we just have an outbreak of sportsmanship? Remember that old concept?

The Bad

As the perennial nature of horseracing reasserted itself, I soon realised my tearful optimism was misplaced.

“We all learned a big lesson today,” Poulton said. “We were stabled (at Sandown) with them (the Japanese) and a few of their training methods had a few of us raise our eyebrows, but hey, it worked.”

When asked what methods had caught his eye, he replied: “Last week, when we came here (Flemington) for a gallop and the Japanese rider was belting the shit out of the horse (Delta Blues) in his gallop just a week before the race. That was certainly one of them. You need ’em tough and they’re tough all right.”

So, even more and harder beltings for these flighty, liquid-eyed creatures. Hey, it works…

one small thing happened that made all the difference. As Delta Blues blurred past towards victory, a small young Japanese man standing alone suddenly cried, in a timid voice, “Yes, I love you!” Tears spurted horizontally from his eyes. Kazuya Maekawa, Delta Blues’ track rider, overwhelmed and deeply moved, said in four words more about the spirit of winning than any of the commentary or subsequent race speeches.

No, Maekawa, you don’t love him, you belt the shit out of him, don’t you?

The ugly

That red pompom. Lose the pompom!

Comments (0)

  • ThirdCat says:

    Oh. I love the pompom.

  • Hey, don’t knock the pompom. I thought it was a cool little touch.

  • Ron says:

    I’m uncompromising on this: I want horse-racing (and all other animal-centred ‘sports’) banned until those animals come out and say they really enjoy it.

    I am sure on the TV sports news last weekend that a shot of horses at the end of a race showed blood coming out of the nostrils of one of them.

  • Desert Pea says:

    I’m afraid I’m very unAustralian – was working from home and missed the race altogether. However, I can’t help but notice how Australian sport commentators (whom I truly loathe with a passion – with the exception of the cadet reporters on “the Fat”) and trainers always find a way to suggest that the other side somehow didn’t win fairly – with a martyrish undertone of “we didn’t win, we took the moral high ground”. I think it marvelous that one jockey to another expressed admiration – there was a time when all our sporting greats selflessly did the same. All the same, if he is flogging the shit out of the horse, hope she turns around and bites him on the ass first chance she gets!

  • Helen says:

    i condemn the pompom! oh, OK, I count myself outnumbered by pompom people.

  • Tim says:

    If he puts the pompom on the horse, a line will have been crossed.

  • JahTeh says:

    Australian jockeys can be called before the stewards for excessive use of the whip. What they do here is use the whip on the saddle as it’s the noise which they hear and several winners this week were ridden hands and heels. I would say the jockeys and strappers would have made their views known about excessive whipping somewhere behind the stables.

    Ron, if you look at the Clerk of the Course’s horse, the old grey Cup winner SubZero, you’ll see a horse that loves the crowds, the other horses and won’t believe he’s too old to race. Some horses just love it but I’m against racing in stinking heat and I won’t watch the hurdles or steeples.

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