Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Melbourne Cup and Malaysians

As I did my tertiary studies in Sydney and lived there for nearly 10 years, the Melbourne Cup still fascinates me. Even non punters will get into the merriment all over the country. Its infectious. Its easily the biggest horse race in the world judging from the history, the colour, the celebration and fame that come with it.

So You Think

Its always run on the first Tuesday of November, and throughout Australia, everything literally stop for those two hours. Too much drinking, there will be the usual office sweeps (people will put in a dollar or ten and each will get to pick a horse from a hat, winner takes all).

The actual prize money of the Cup is also enticing. Its now worth A$6m, with the winner getting A$3.6m, even the second horse gets A$900,000, the third gets A$450,000 and so on. Even those who finish 6th-10th will get A$125,000 each.

Melbourne Cup

The race is not regarded as a true Group 1 classic because its a handicap race. True Group races runs at set weights or weight for age. In a handicap, the better performed horses get bigger weights. The field is usually the max at 24. Oh, by the way, Tan Chin Nam has another horse in this year's race, Precedence, as well. He could have had four, but the other two probably could not handle the wet track, so Faint Perfume and Dariana did not pay up to enter the final field.

Malaysia has a unique history with the Melbourne Cup, thanks largely to Tan Chin Nam (IGB). In 1974 and 1975, his horse Think Big won it twice, unexpectedly. Tunku Abdul Rahman was there to lead in the horse, apparently he had a small share in the horse as well.

Cummings at Moonee Valley on Saturday... he has been admitted to hospital for the third time this year.

Tan Chin Nam has won it another 2 times and his name is well known among Australian racing circles. Besides that, people also know Tan Chin Nam as the man behind IGB, which renovated two of the prettiest buildings in Sydney, the QVB and Capitol Theatre. He has subsequently won the Cup with Saintly, and 3 years ago with Viewed. All his horses were trained by Bart Cummings.

For the past 30 or 40 years, there has not been a more hot raging favourite for the race than this year's So You Think, a horse Tan Chin Nam co-owns with Tunku Ahmad Yahya (ex-Sime Darby), the nephew of Tunku Abdul Rahman . The horse is still young but has won and incredible 8 out of just 11 races and among that 2 Cox Plates, one of the top Group 1 races in the world.

Family affair: Dato Tan Chin Nam and his family delight in the Cup win.

So You Think is at around A$3.40 for $1.00 bet to win. Usually the favourite in the Cup runs off at 6 to 1 or 7 to 1, owing to the very big field, with a high chance for interference.

Considering that So You Think only cost Tan Chin Nam A$83,500 he is already way ahead, especially when most well bred but unproven yearlings now are sold for between A$100,000-A$500,000.

I can only see one danger, its the French horse Americain, to be ridden by the famed HK French jockey Gerard Mosse. You can tune in for the festivities from 10 am - 1pm today (M'sian time) on the Australia News Network, Astro 521.

Sydney Morning Herald article 3 years ago: Cummings hitched his stable to Malaysian property developer Dato Tan Chin Nam in the early 1970s when he saw him playing two-up, and whichever way the coins have landed, the two have remained friends.

Dato Tan OBE ("Over Bloody Eighty," he joked) urged the other octogenarian to tell the yarn, and Cummings, who loves a short story, did: "He was having a drink in my bar in Adelaide years ago with Glynn Pretty, the jockey, and we were playing two-up. How many times did you win?"

"I won 10 times in a row," Dato Tan said.

"I thought I better stick with this bloke. He's lucky," Cummings said.

Dato Tan Chin Nam stuck, too, after Cummings provided back-to-back Melbourne Cups with Think Big (1974-75) and Dato Tan brought then Malaysian prime minister Tunku Abdul Rahman into the ownership for the second Cup.

In the late-1980s, Cummings spent heavily, buying horses as part of a tax-minimisation scheme, but when the recession hit, he went broke. His friend helped bail him out.

Data Tan wrote in his memoirs, Never Say I Assume: "With a true friend, one does not seek to ask for help when in need. Help is offered even before one asks. In life, there are very few friends of that calibre."

Cummings repaid him with Saintly in the 1996 Cup and with plenty of other wins with horses in Dato Tan's chessboard colours; and with a record fourth Cup for an owner, besting Tony Santic's three with Makybe Diva and Lloyd Williams' trio (Just A Dash, What A Nuisance and Efficient).

Dato Tan said of Cummings: "Bart, he's got long pockets and short arms."

Cummings said: "Where did I learn that?"

"Not from me," shot back a laughing owner.

If Cummings is the king of one-liners, Dato Tan is a riddler extraordinaire. He said of the relationship: "Here's to me, here's to you, may we never disagree. And in the event we do, here's to me and to hell with you."


jazzmutant said...

wow dali, americain won!
always good to throw a few bucks on your picks lol

Implosion said...

Darn. I tipped Bart Cummings' "So You Think.." for the win.

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