The Hardest Treble of All
What is harder… winning a Melbourne Cup or winning three undercard races on Melbourne Cup day? Gai has won a Melbourne Cup, and now along with training partner Adrian Bott, Gai too has re Cup day treble. It appears as if it was easier to win the Cup than it was to win three races on Cup day, if that can possibly make sense! Before Gai and Adrian’s treble on 1 November 2016, there had barely been a treble recorded on this iconic Australian day, this millennium. Of course, everyone would rather win a Melbourne Cup, however it can’t be stated enough just how hard it is to win three other races on this great day. There are ten races on Cup day, all with fields that average out at about 15. 150 horses, all of whom have ability, and all of whom have been trained for this day. The ‘on fire’ training partnership of Waterhouse and Bott used three individual jockeys for their three wins; one from Brazil, and two from Victoria. The three races were won by a two-year-old filly, a mare, and a gelding and they were won over distances of 1000m, 1700m and 1800m.
Most of the glory horses in Australian racing history have won or run well in the Melbourne Cup. Yes, the race that stops a nation takes most of the attention, but the support card, despite these races not being of Group 1 standard, carry more interest than most other races for the entire year from the general public. People love Melbourne Cup day; the people of Melbourne are blessed with a public holiday, while a great deal of other Australians strangely seem to be at their local pub or club bright and early for a 10.40am start. This year Gai and Adrian found a 17-1 winner in the first race for all those who had rolled out of bed, and done their form in the pre-lunch hours.
Invincible Star won the first race over 1000m. Tulloch won the equivalent of this race when he was a two-year-old on Cup day in 1956. Vain won a similar race when he was a two-year-old on Cup day in 1968. In more recent times, two Group 1 performed fillies Villa Verde and Rostova have won the race Invincible Star won on Tuesday. The future looks good for this daughter of the new ‘super sire’ I Am Invincible.
Sort After won race two over 1700m. This race has traditionally been one of the most hotly contested races of the spring, especially over the last few years. We all remember when the future Group 1 winner Amanpour was beaten in this race not more than two inches two years back. Those who took the Waterhouse-Bott all-up in races one and two were gifted about 90-1 on their money. Lots and lots of people did back these two horses, and of course there certainly were plenty of people in pubs and clubs, on the other hand, uttering that famous phrase ‘bloody Waterhouse.’
The corporate bookmakers have told us that shortly after four million Australians tuned in to watch the coverage of the Cup, the eventual winner Almandin was their worst result. This all adds up to a lot of people having a good deal of money after the Cup. An hour later, the good thing on the card, the son of High Chaparral Fabrizio had won in effortless fashion by over three lengths. In the run you never wanted to be on another runner, and even the ‘bloody Waterhouse’ utterers from early in the day, must have had something on this promising gelding.
Fabrizio gave Gai and Adrian three, and while Gai especially has recorded hundreds of trebles Australia wide, this was Gai’s first on Cup Day. It was Gai’s first treble during Melbourne Cup week since Derby Day 2006, but on that day Desert War, Tuesday Joy and Dance Hero were all the best horses in their respective races, and their form was undisputed. Winning three races on Cup Day is harder, because the weights are compressed, the fields are bigger than on Derby Day, and the horses are so evenly graded.
Even with the might of O’Shea, Waller, Weir, and Moody of late, no trainer has even really got close to a Cup Day treble over the last ten years. When Gai and Adrian were two from two by 1120am this year, and with their best chance of the day Fabrizio still to come, a treble looked within reach. However the horses still have to win. Prompt Response was beaten a foot, then Excess Knowledge had no luck, before Fabrizio sealed the deal.
As abovementioned both Tulloch and Vain won a two-year-old race on Cup day in their respective juvenile years’. Other champions like Ajax (1937 and 1938), and Heroic (1923) won undercard races on Cup Day many years ago. It is the day that stops the nation, not just the race – it would be interesting to somehow figure out what percentage of Australia’s GDP comes courtesy of Melbourne Cup day. In theory it should be 1/365th but surely production slows down, not just in Melbourne but Australia wide, especially after lunch! Cup Day is indeed a great day, and to win almost a third of the races on the card will leave Gai and Adrian at the forefront of racing history for some time to come yet.