Weight can wear down a Cup star

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GEOFF POULTER laments his lack of winners in the Cup and says it’s often down to weights. But he’s managed to compose himself and compose a Canberra report from the 2017 Cup runners:

ANOTHER Melbourne Cup, another near miss. The story of my life! I used to complain about the great race being a fraction too far. Run over 3000 metres instead of 3200 (two miles) would probably have changed a lot of results.

That’s without factoring in the reality that the “new” distance of the Cup is precisely 61 feet shorter since metrics took over for the 1972 running. An interesting conundrum for blanket finishes before and after that cut-off point!

The field stride towards to winning post in the 2017 Emirates Melbourne Cup. Pic: Darren Tindale - The Image is Everything
The field stride towards to winning post in the 2017 Melbourne Cup. Pic: Darren Tindale – The Image is Everything

For me it’s regularly a placing or worse. Rarely the chocolates. I’m no novice, I’ve being doing the form since my mum put bets on for me as a kid in the mid-1950s. As a party trick, I have always been able to name the past 100 winners – just in case you are thought of as an amateur.  It’s a constant grind.

Now my new beef, punter’s lament. It’s the mere fact that the big race is a handicap. How often has your placed horse been nutted by a much-lighter weighted steed? Equal weights would have produced much different results but that’s another story. The secret to the race is that it IS a handicap – and you’ve simply got to wear it.

What I do contend is that many champions have virtually been weighted out of our greatest horse race. So, I have drawn a list of 10 champions beaten, some unplaced, in Melbourne Cups.

And that list would be more than a match for a list of the 10 best horses to win the race.

I have deliberately chosen the period from 1957 – the past 60 years – the year after Redcraze was the greatest certainty beaten in the Cup. He carried a huge weight, was wide for much of the race and was beaten by a lip by lightweight Evening Peal.

My non-winning champions list reads: Tulloch (seventh), Kingston Town (second), Tobin Bronze (eighth), Dulcify (broke down), Better Loosen Up (12th), So You Think (third), Gunsynd (third), Super Impose (second), Leilani (second), Dhaulagiri (third). And that is ignoring the likes of Gay Icarus, Prince Darius, So Called, Ilumquh, Aquanita and Sir Dane.

The best winners list from that period reads – Might and Power, Makybe Diva, Galilee, Rain Lover, Saintly, Doriemus, Light Fingers, Let’s Elope, Think Big, Jeune or Hyperno.

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Take your pick – but I reckon the list of non-Cup winners is stronger.

Perhaps that’s no great surprise considering the handicap conditions. Bart Cummings used to say that weight can stop a train.

It’s small consolation but it does give this perennial Cup loser some inverse satisfaction. Something to feel good about at last.

THIS is a tale of recent events in Australian politics. I have used all the 23 starters in this week’s Melbourne Cup to help tell the story:

ALMANDIN Canberra reports that the RED CARDINAL was being GALLANTE in knighting the BIG DUKE in the Australia Day honours.

Had he sought the advice of a LIB(eral) RAN, the doubting THOMAS HOBSON? Played on his mind like a VENTURA STORM, a WALL OF FIRE, REKINDLING the spirit. Was his dubbing act weak/low/brave (WICKLOW BRAVE) or simply inane? Perhaps, like JONANNES VERMEER, he was painted into a corner.

No, it was a captain’s pick, a NAKEETA Khrushchev call. So, don’t break out the HUMIDORs, Messrs Hockey and co. It was to be the HART(err death)NELL.

Who benefited from his demise? Not MAR-MELO, TIBERIAN, MAX DYNAMITE or a US ARMY RANGER.

No. With his SINGLE GAZE enter the member for BONDI BEACH who promised a BOOM TIME ahead: a grand plan (CIS-MON-TANE). But, instead, he is a merely star (AMELIE’S STAR) faded.


Author: Geoff Poulter

GEOFF POULTER, 69, has spent 51 years in sports media. He was the last Melbourne Herald chief football writer. CV: Sports oracle, author, historian, impersonator, raconteur, poet, quiz whiz, philosopher, song-writer, intellectual scholar – and still employable!



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