• hrv vicbred 23
  • Racing Tips
    Victoria Cup – a great line-up or shadow of its past? Victoria Cup – a great line-up or shadow of its past?

    CHRIS ALFORD driving Golden Reign

    SADLY there are times when a vicious reminder you’re no longer a spring chicken rears its ugly head. For example, when you’re sparring with... Victoria Cup – a great line-up or shadow of its past?

    SADLY there are times when a vicious reminder you’re no longer a spring chicken rears its ugly head.

    For example, when you’re sparring with your son and the little devil starts hitting harder than he once did or you’re spent after a couple of rounds and he wants to keep going.

    Another is the realisation you’ve become the office’s new Bob Cain, not in skill as a journalist, but as a “in may day” tragic!

    The latter happened this week.

    During the 1990s stars such as my favourite Chokin, Westburn Grant, Christian Cullen and Golden Reign were Kings…well not according to Cain.


    Cardigan Bay would date Chokin, Westburn Grant couldn’t live in the same street as Caduceus, Christian Cullen isn’t fit to be mentioned in the same breath as Popular Alm and Golden Reign wouldn’t see daylight against Pure Steel.

    During 1998 a young Adam Hamilton, who is the same vintage as I – all be it a couple of years older (sorry Adam, had to mention that) – was “in raptures” after sensational filly named Tailamade Lombo finished second in the New South Wales Derby.

    Unable to let that slide, Bob wrote an article about Argent not only winning the Derby, but also the NSW Oaks along with the Victoria Derby and Oaks, meaning Tailamade Lombo is, well, no Argent!

    Bob also mentioned how the opposition Argent beat went on to win some of the Southern Hemisphere’s biggest races.

    I followed up with a piece about how Tailamade Lombo was only three, could still win plenty of races and her opposition could achieve greatness.


    For the record, rivals beaten by Tailamade Lombo won events such as the Miracle Mile, Inter Dominion, Treuer Memorial, Western Australia Cup and the A G Hunter Cup.

    During the article I referred to Bob as “the defender of all things old”.

    Well, the circle has become somewhat complete after people stated tomorrow night’s Victoria Cup field one for the ages.

    More than two decades after declaring his love for Tailamade Lombo, Hamilton has admitted it’s a top line up, but not exactly one for the ages.

    In fact, Hamilton believes you need to rewind to 1995 for a truly great edition of the Grand Circuit event.

    “For me 1995 is THE greatest Victoria Cup line-up I have seen,” Hamilton said.

    “Golden Reign won it, beating Master Musician and Sinbad Bay, but behind them were superstar mares Blossom Lady and Exceptionally Smooth, along with Kiwi megastars Chokin and Desperate Comment.

    “One of the best pacers Tassie has produced, Halyer, also ran 11th.

    “And back in 1993 we had absolute champions fill the first four spots in order of Master Musician, Jack Morris, Blossom Lady and Westburn Grant.”

    As mentioned Hamilton and I are similar in age, and ironically, 1995 is also my selection as the best Cup assembly.

    I mean, Golden Reign would date Rock N Roll Doo, Spirit Of St Louis couldn’t live in the same street as Chokin, Leap To Fame isn’t fit to be mentioned in the same breath as Master Musician, Encipher wouldn’t see daylight against Blossom Lady and the closest Catch A Wave would get to Sinbad Bay is being stalled next to him.

    And don’t get me started on how there used to be a true Grand Circuit compared to today’s watered down version…I’ve officially become “the defender of all things old”.

    Hamilton did offer some perspective about the comparison, which is similar to my response regarding Tailamade Lombo’s rivals.

    “The hardest thing about judging the quality of Saturday night’s Victoria Cup is that you have to do so in the moment, not with the fullness of time,” Hamilton said.

    “By that I mean, much of the cream in this Cup is still young and how we judge their careers will likely be very different after they have retired.

    “But, on potential and sheer talent, this is as good as any since 2000.

    “That year we had Breenys Fella beat Shakamaker and Christian Cullen. Star US import Slug Of Jin was fourth, the great Courage Under Fire fifth and stars like Yulestar, Safe And Sound, Saab, Happy Asset and Kyema Kid all finished down the track.”


    A ‘Johnny Come Lately’ compared to a couple of ‘Jerrys’, former Harness Racing Victoria Media Man Cody Winnell’s pick is 2015 as the “standout in my time as a ripping field”, which included Christen Me, Lennytheshark, Adore Me, Terror To Love and Beautide.

    One interesting note which may have caused an effect on the quality of the field is HRV’s decision to move the Cup from January/February when it was part of the a Summer Carnival along the Hunter Cup, to October in 2017.

    Since then the Cup has not attracted a solitary New Zealand contender, with last season’s edition regarded as little more than a free-for-all compared to a genuine Grand Circuit race!

    While our opinions vary, there is one thing we can agree on – Saturday night’s Victoria Cup will be electrifying and may be viewed differently in years to come.

    Related Stories

    Paul Courts

    No comments so far.

    Be first to leave comment below.

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.