I could have put the photo of ageing Eureka Stud boss Colin McAlpine up here today for the amazing achievement of two horses he part owns, which is exclusively advised here today, but with all due respects to Colin his photo would be like mine - and have very limited viewer appeal, so I went for Sunshine Coast based trainer Caitlin Lavin instead, as I personally owe her a favour. Caitlin's family part own Wimmers Soft Drinks, which are nowadays a major sponsor of thoroughbred racing in South East Queensland, as per the barrier stall signage at Toowoomba and Caloundra. When interviewed, Caitlin told Late Mail Luncheon attendees 11 days ago at the Sofitel that Pickabee was going well and that she'd start in the Juanmo. The 4YO mare then did the right thing and stepped out and ran third at 30/1 to Srikandi and Miniature. (Photo Dan Costello)
Well hopefully the next time we see Streama will be when she’s barefoot and pregnant, starring on some Sky Channel breeding show like Bred To Win. Why is that? Well she’d won just the one race in the previous 19 months before she made her way to the Gold Coast to race in the Hollindale Stakes on 3/5/14. And even in that solitary one win in the previous 19 months, she only scrambled in, getting home by a half neck in a tense photo finish.
The names of the three horses that finished behind her that day when she won by about a metre were, in order, Royal Descent, Veyron and Hawkspur. Those three little treasures of racehorses have cumulatively started 15 times since – Royal Descent (6), Veyron (1) and Hawkspur (8) – and in those 15 race starts they’ve been placed just twice, as Royal Descent and Hawkspur have both run one placing since. Terrific stuff.
Before arriving at the Gold Coast for her Hollindale Stakes assignment, Streama had been totally incapable of running a place in her previous five starts and walked onto the Gold Coast track with the woeful form of 5-6-6-17-4. She’d even been incapable of running a place the latest two times that she’d raced her own gender, finishing fifth to Catkins in the Group 2 Breeders Classic at Rosehill on 15/2/14 and fourth in the Group 1 Queen of the Turf Stakes at Randwick on 19/4/14, so the signs were not positive.
Yet since arriving in Queensland she been unbeatable, winning at the Gold Coast on 3/5/14, then winning the Doomben Cup last Saturday, yet she’d won just one of her previous sixteen (in words so there’s no confusion, that’s 16) starts (6.25% win strike rate) before the Hollindale Stakes. If you can fathom out why she’s suddenly a revelation well you’re better than me. Prior to the Gold Coast victory, her trainer expressed the notion publicly on radio that she prefers tracks dry these days under her little footsies, yet she romped in on a heavy 8.
Truly the sooner she’s retired the better I fancy - as it’s easier to catch a falling star than Streama. And as for her effort of winning two in a row now, well she hadn’t achieved that feat since October 2011 – that’s 31 months earlier.
Isn’t thoroughbred racing strange? All these alleged Queensland “stars” like Buffering, Spirit of Boom, Temple of Boom, Solzhenitsyn and crew, can win one or more Group 1 races interstate, yet they can’t cumulatively win one Group 1 race in their home State. Sydney mare Streama proved capable of winning just one just race in 19 months from 16 starts, yet sent away to Queensland to campaign, she’s proved unbeatable. It all infers that travelling horses is the key to switching them on mentally and is the making of them. Havana is another case in point. He couldn’t get hot in an oven when racing in Sydney and had won only a Maiden from nine race starts before he landed in Brisbane for the 2014 Winter Carnival, yet he’s travelled to Queensland and has run second and first in the space of just seven days. Caulfield based filly Srikandi travelled all the way to Queensland from her Melbourne base after having won a lowly Benchmark 70 race at Sandown at $4.40. She’s unbeaten since arriving in Queensland - winning both the Silk Stocking at the Gold Coast and the Juanmo Stakes at Doomben with her head on her chest and now some are even suggesting a Group 1 Stradbroke would be worth a throw at the stumps if she could get into that race via winning a race where the winner is exempt from ballot. Thank God no one suggested that possibility before she left Melbourne, or that person or persons would have been institutionalised – and the key thrown away.
I see in the newspaper today that the owners are going to make a decision today about Streama's possible retirement. Apart from the obvious healthy financial reward associated with owning her to this point, I must say if I owned her, I’d have made the decision about retiring her approximately 10 seconds after she crossed the line in the Doomben Cup.
But with Streama's top effort to win the Group 1 Doomben Cup understandably stealing the thunder on the day, a pretty amazing feat happening that no one in the local media has picked up on that I’ve seen or heard. You see Theft won Race 1 at Doomben last Saturday and it’s a fact of life that he’d been incapable of winning a race anywhere in the preceding 19 months. The last Brisbane metropolitan race run the previous Saturday, which was BTC Cup day, was won by Pure Purrfection and she hadn’t won a race anywhere for 15 months. So the similarities in the two wins were that 1) Theft and Pure Purrfection were both “long term losers”, meaning neither had won anywhere in the 365 days before the race, 2) both had double figure odds officially bet about them on course (25/1 Pure Purrfection and 10/1 Theft), 3) both are trained by Tony Gollan, 4) both have the McAlpine family’s Eureka Stud as part owner, 5) both were ridden by the same jockey – Jim Byrne and to cap it all off, 6) both carried the exact same weight – 54 kgs. Extraordinary stuff.
My besotted bride raised an interesting point Saturday morning before final scratching came through for the Doomben meeting. She laughed then said, “Check out some of the names in the Doomben Roses. How will the racecallers go if Ekofanidea, Miss Hucklepuff, Asadauskaite and Crooked Stick all hit the line together?” She was spot on – it would have been as funny as a tin of worms, but thankfully there must be “a racecaller God”, as Ekofanidea was an emergency that didn’t get a run and the rest all clocked in tenth or worse.
And the Late Mail Luncheon’s last interviewed trainer’s horse finally got to run last Saturday. Sunshine Coast based trainer Caitlin Lavin - when interviewed at the function - said Pickabee was working well for her resuming racing from a spell, but added she’d scratch Pickabee from Doomben the following day (BTC Cup day) to reserve her for a race at Doomben the following week. Out stepped Pickabee at big odds of 30/1 last Saturday and she ran third to Srikandi and Miniature in the Listed Juanmo Stakes, so the Late Mail Luncheon interviews sure threw up some good punting pointers for those in attendance.
Today on www.brisbaneracing.com.au given this is Doomben 10,000 week, website visitors get taken on a visit to the Bernborough statue at Oakey, via a montage of photos and plenty of associated text about the champion. On www.sydneyracing.com.au David Clarkson looks at what overseas destinations he’ll be fleeing to - and reporting in from - for visitors to that website, whilst on www.melbourneracing.com.au Victorian racing is perused.