2013 - THE YEAR IN REVIEW
Sunday, 29 December 2013: That was the year that was! Racing editor Chris Scholtz looks back on the 2013 Australian racing year.
Trainer of the Year Chris Waller
ACHIEVEMENT OF THE YEAR: Among many noteworthy nominations Chris Waller sits at the top after smashing the Sydney training record previously shared by Tommy Smith and Gai Waterhouse. He also topped the national list for Group One winners.
Consider that Waller’s feat in winning 167.5 Sydney races last season sets a mark that perhaps only he can better in years to come.
PERSONALITY OF THE YEAR: Gai Waterhouse by a lap after winning the Golden Slipper and Melbourne Cup, joining Bart Cummings and Lee Freedman as only the third trainer to win the country’s two richest races in the same calendar year.
The nation embraced Gai’s first Melbourne Cup triumph with Fiorente as she took the Cup out of the hands of the internationals and gave it back to the people. Her contagious joy won over the media and swept away the stigma of the More Joyous controversy that had dogged her for months.
HORSE OF THE YEAR: Black Caviar. Sentiment aside, the champion mare was perfect as always in her only three 2013 appearances before her retirement.
Her only serious challengers were her half brother All Too Hard - he was something special and retired all too soon – and It’s A Dundeel, the first Triple Crown winner since the Randwick Guineas replaced the Canterbury Guineas.
Horse of the Year Black Caviar
QUOTE OF THE YEAR: “Mate, I bought this horse - we are playing the Australian national anthem” - John Messara showing his true colours at Meydan after his US-trained star Animal Kingdom won the Dubai World Cup.
JOCKEY OF THE YEAR: He’s had his critics but Kerrin McEvoy’s riding over the last 12 months has gone to a new level, justifying why he is number one for the Darley stable with a national best 10 G1 wins for the year.
GRANGE HERMITAGE AWARD: Like the finest of red wins, Jimmy Cassidy gets better with age. He reached the milestone of 100 Group One wins when Zoustar steamed home in the Coolmore Stud Stakes at Flemington, a mark passed previously by only George Moore and Roy Higgins.
An honourable mention to Glen Boss, who at 43 became the oldest jockey in 100 years to win the Melbourne premiership.
A BERRY GOOD YEAR: Move over Hugh Bowman and Nash Rawiller – Tommy Berry announced his arrival as one of Sydney’s top jockeys and his star can only continue to rise with the support of Gai Waterhouse.
Twin brother Nathan is also knocking at the door, their double act being one of the best things about Sydney racing in 2013.
STARS ON THE RISE: Chad Schofield has made a huge impact on Melbourne racing, capped by his upset Cox Plate win on the maiden 3YO Shamus Award, since his move from Sydney. He can only get better.
In Adelaide Jamie Kah has been revelation to lead the premiership.
HONOURABLE MENTIONS: Hugh Bowman and Nash Rawiller staged a great premiership battle in Sydney. Chris Munce back on top in Brisbane while fellow Queenslander Damien Browne’s G1 wins on Buffering in Melbourne and Perth proved that he can hold his own with the best in the land.
QUIET ACHIEVERS: Christian Reith, James McDonald and Jason Collett have made their mark in Sydney and should cement their places among the top echelon over the next 12 months.
Brad Rawiller, Dwayne Dunn, Craig Newitt, Dom Tourneur, Matt Neilson, Micheal Cahill, Glen Colless and Tim Bell continue to get the job done without fanfare in Melbourne, Adelaide and Brisbane.
REDEMPTION: Blake Shinn and Peter Robl have let their riding do the talking as they have put behind them their dark betting days with tremendous form in the saddle. Likewise Damien Oliver has also left his controversies behind, proving that once a champion, always a champion.
BIGGEST LOSER: Nash Rawiller must feel the pangs of loss every day after he was dumped as the rider of Fiorente before the Melbourne Cup. His consolation was a hard fought victory over Hugh Bowman in the Sydney riding premiership and three G1 victories during the spring carnival.
Rawiller can sympathise with Frankie Dettori, who lost the Arc ride on winner Treve to Thierry Jarnet after he fractured an ankle just days before the world’s greatest weight-for-age event.
GIRL POWER: Where do you start! There are success stories galore in the burgeoning female ranks but to nominate a stand out in 2013 but for consistency it’s hard to go past Linda Meech and Clare Lindop for their great strike rates in Victoria and South Australia.
TRAINER OF THE YEAR: Chris Waller is unstoppable. He has set new training records in Sydney, won the most G1 races in the last 12 months, dominated the spring carnivals in Sydney and Melbourne and has launched a successful satellite stable in at Flemington where his presence will grow substantially during 2014.
It’s a measure of his confidence that he knocked back the prized offer to take charge of the Darley stable.
THE ULTIMATE PROFESSIONAL: No better words can describe retiring Darley trainer Peter Snowden. He has set a standard that John O’Shea will aspire to match when he steps into the most demanding position in Australian racing.
Snowden’s training partnership with his son Paul will undoubtedly be a success – expect to see their name on stables at Randwick sooner than later.
HONOURABLE MENTIONS: Premiership winners Darren Weir, Rob Heathcote, Richard Jolly and Adam Durrant. And Heathcote again for a job well done with Buffering- great to see trainers not afraid to travel their best horses.
THE QUIET ACHIEVERS: Guy Walter, Joe Pride, Kris Lees, Team Hawkes, Anthony Cummings, Mick Price, Robbie Griffiths, Philip Stokes, Simon Miller and Matt Dunn.
ON THE RISE: Expect Tony McEvoy and Bjorn Baker to be big movers in the Sydney ranks in 2014.
FAMILY TIES: When Bart Cummings declared he wanted out of his fledgling training partnership with his grandson James it seemed a great racing family was about to be torn apart. All it took was a family lunch to smooth the waters and restore calm to Leilani Lodge, albeit with some staff casualties.
A YEAR GONE BY
FOND FAREWELL: The sight of Black Caviar screaming away with the TJ Smith Stakes at Randwick in her final racetrack appearance to keep her perfect career record intact will remain stamped in the memories of the capacity crowd that packed the new Randwick to witness racing history.
DAYS OF OUR LIVES: The More Joyous affair started as a mounting yard spat between Gai Waterhouse and John Singleton and became a front page slinging match. Their bitter fallout ended a 20-year partnership between one of Australia’s most successful owner/trainer combinations.
It all became too personal as Waterhouse fought to defend her family and her reputation, played out in the public arena with a colourful cast of support characters. In the end Singleton and Waterhouse were fined a total of $22,000, but the peripheral cost to racing’s reputation was so much more.
RIP: Jockey mums Simone Montgomerie and Desiree Gil died doing what they loved. Racing also mourned the passing of Hall of Famers Arthur Ward and David Coles and a great Sydney turf writer Keith Robbins.
GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN: Pierro, All Too Hard and Atlantic Jewel – early retirements and injuries robbed racing of much needed star power.
THE FAIRYTALE: The magic association between 29-year-old Adelaide apprentice Lauren Stojakovic and Miracles Of Life, her pint sized winner of the G1 Blue Diamond.
Stojakovic’s career is the stuff movies are made of – an early retirement due to serious injuries, working as a veterinary nurse and racing steward before a comeback to riding and finding her once in a lifetime horse.
WHO KNOWS WHAT PUNTER’S WANT?: Tyro bookmaker Tom Waterhouse’s saturation advertising campaign was too much for some and led to the imposition of prime time restrictions after widespread criticism of his ad content.
In the end he walked away the big winner after selling the business to UK bookmaking giant William Hill in a deal that has the potential to net him more than $100 million.
DOWN THE MINE: For much of 2013 it appeared certain that mining magnate Nathan Tinkler’s racing dream would be buried by a mountain of debts, only to be saved, for now at least, by drastic cutbacks in staff and real estate and major dispersals of his stud and racing interests.
As a result he lives to race another day, but on a scale a long way from what he envisaged when he launched his massive spending spree five years ago.
OVER THE EDGE: The BC Thoroughbreds collapse will dog racing well into 2014 as the full story unravels about how a reported $190 million held by “The Edge” punting club seemingly “disappeared” from a bank account overnight.
The death of the record $5 million colt bought but never paid for by BC3 as a yearling is a sad postscript.
THE CRYSTAL BALL
OUR NEXT SUPERSTAR? On home shores the contenders are many – Fiorente, Boban, Guelph and Zoustar are all viable contenders if they can build on their 2013 achievements.
It would be good for racing if Fiorente comes back from his Melbourne Cup victory to become the star of the autumn carnival, super filly Guelph has the aura to become a crowd favourite and Zoustar could be our next international sprint champion.
On the international stage there is enormous expectation that the next global superstar will be the unbeaten French filly Treve. She is already valued at €8 million after she was bought by Sheikh Joann Al Thani after her French Oaks victory, a figure she more than justified when she crushed Japanese champion Orfevre in the Arc.
BLACKBOOKERS FOR 2014: Complacent, Lion Of Belfort, Chivalry, Bull Point, Pakal, Cauthen, Cluster, Teronado, Not Listenin’ To Me, White Sage.
MONEY WELL SPENT?: It’s the biggest question of 2014 – will the NSW Government and ATC get the bang they are hoping for from the $20 million they have poured into “The Championships” in a bid to make Sydney an international racing destination?
Early signs from Asia are encouraging but patience is required for the timing of such a carnival to make a global impact, especially when having to compete with seasonal differences and the Dubai World Cup carnival.
LAY THE FAVOURITE: UK betting houses William Hill, Paddy Power, Ladbrokes and Bet 365 have taken almost absolute control of the corporate bookmaking landscape with their buyouts of Sportingbet, Centrebet and Tom Waterhouse among others.
They are the biggest bookmaking firms in the world but persist in placing restrictions on winning Australian punters. Happily moves are afoot by authorities to turn up the heat and force the overseas-owned corporates to bet clients to lose minimum amounts in line with the limits that apply to on-course bookmakers.
TV WARS: The simmering feud between TVN and Sky is far from over with a number of issues bubbling just below the surface and set to spill over in 2014.