Race for the ages
Years ago, when the greys race was first run at Flemington, I proposed the final day should close with a Veterans’ Handicap, which for many beloved old-timers — horses and jockeys — would be their last chance to win a race at the spring carnival.
Paul Richards in his column (23/11) has thought similarly, a race for horses seven years or older, but if that race was run in November, horses just turned seven would be advantaged. I believe this race should be for horses eight years or over and ridden by (invited?) jockeys 35 years or older.
Yes, I hear you baying, there would not be enough horses around to contest such an event. But 15 horses aged eight, nine or 10 ran on the last day alone at Flemington this year. And, despite all the age-restricted races, 23 of these ageing warriors, with ratings ranging from 74 (Plot The Course) to 120 (Hartnell), ran over the course of the carnival (excluding the Melbourne Cup).
The sad reality is that no truly innovative race has been introduced at the carnival since the greys first strutted their stuff a generation ago.
The benchmark 80 Grand Handicap (1100m), which has closed the carnival for the past two years, is an underwhelming finale given the quality of straight races run earlier.
In 2018, even the Racing.com commentators saw the race as an anticlimax, which prompted me to write a second letter to Racing Victoria suggesting then as Paul has suggested now.
Time now, I think, to convert a lowlight into a highlight.
Black Range (Vic)