In such a tumultous year around the world, we are finally here - the 2020 Lexus Melbourne Cup at Flemington. Just a week ago, Melbourne was under a severe lockdown with horse racing one of the few activities able to continue. To its credit, racing throughout Australia has continued right through the pandemic with only minimal disruption to scheduling. That deserves an enormous round of applause and appreciation from the Australian punting public - the industry has been able to operate under tight Covid protocols with only a couple of minor scares, keeping thousands of people in work and tax revenue rolling in, saving the local economy from complete devastation with so many unable to work and needing financial assistance. However, the crowds, at least in Victoria are still yet to return. Timing is everything and it's too much of a political football to let owners back on course just yet while so many have suffered. They need to start with small trial events and progress from there.
Derby Day at Flemington is the pinnacle of the racing year for me, unfortunately it's now up to 17yrs since I was last able to attend! Not that anyone else can this year either. A day full of Group races (4x G1, 2x G2, 3x G3) and quite simply, if anyone invites you to a wedding on this day, you shouldn't be friends with them any more. Whilst it's labelled 'Derby Day', the Derby simply isn't a feature race worthy of the eponymous title. A 2500m race just three months after horses turn three simply doesn't lead to great racing. The field is poor, with no depth, just highlighting how many owners are traditionally happy to run to get owners' tickets for the greatest raceday in the southern hemisphere, if not the world. Imagine running the (English/Epsom Derby) on the first of April? At least the Kentucky Derby at the start of May, is run at 2000m, which is about as far as any American-bred horse ever wants. All the east coast Derbys in Australia used to be r