The best time of the year is here, ladies and gentleman. Spring has arrived and the boffins at Punt Drunk could not be more excited.
Group 1 racing returns to Caulfield on Saturday afternoon with the Group 1 Memsie Stakes (1400m), while there is plenty of elite horse-flesh going around at Randwick, including the return of superstar sprinter Nature Strip.
Before we get to the good stuff, let’s have a look back at the week that was in the racing world.
One more spring for Damien Oliver
The GOAT, Damien Oliver, has said this Melbourne Spring Carnival will be his last.
Ollie will hang up his saddle following the Perth Racing Carnival in December and will bring down the curtain on the best career we have seen by a jockey to date.
He is one of a handful to have completed the Australian Grand Slam of racing.
With 128 Group 1 victories, more than 3,150 winners, and a tonne of prizemoney accumulated, Oliver sits atop the perch of the greatest jockeys to grace the turf.
Through all that Ollie has achieved, there is no moment that comes close to his win aboard Media Puzzle in 2002, just days after losing his brother Jason.
Ollie's 2002 Melbourne Cup victory aboard Media Puzzle was full of emotion 💕 pic.twitter.com/npccP8t8Ki
— Racing.com (@Racing) August 29, 2023
Thanks for all the memories, Ollie! Hopefully there is one more Group 1 left in the great man.
I Wish I Win v Giga Kick match race
There is little doubt that I Wish I Win and Giga Kick are the best sprinters in the country.
During the week, there was plenty of hope that the two stars would clash in a match race at Cranbourne on the same night as the first AFL preliminary final, September 22.
Both runners are set to resume their spring campaigns, with I Wish I Win in the Memsie Stakes on Saturday and Giga Kick next week at Moonee Valley.
However, with The Everest (1200m) their grand final this time in, both sets of connections are in need of a second-up run.
What better way than a match race (with a potential pacesetter) three weeks out from The Everest?
Connections of Giga Kick were keen, but I Wish I Win’s mob seems to have poured cold water on the idea.
If Racing Victoria wants to make gains on NSW, then it needs to bring this idea to fruition.
Purton locked in for the Cox Plate
Acclaimed Australian jockey Zac Purton has secured the coveted spot as the rider for the esteemed international contender Light Infantry this spring.
The Hong Kong Jockey Club has granted Purton permission to journey back to Australia, where he will team up with the Ciaron Maher & David Eustace-trained thoroughbred.
The two will first team up in the upcoming Group 1 King Charles III Stakes (1600m) and the prestigious Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) race.
Light Infantry is a $4.50 second favourite in King Charles III betting markets, trailing only Mr Brightside.
In the Cox Plate, he stands as the third favourite at odds of $9.
Purton has said that this upcoming Hong Kong season could be his last, with a return to Australia firmly on the cards as he hunts Melbourne Cup glory.
About Punt Drunk
Welcome to Punt Drunk – our weekly column covering all the latest horse racing and punting controversies, dramas and headline news. Have a story or gripe or issue that just grinds your gears? Just hit us up in the comments or contact us page and our jaded, punt hardened Punt Drunk staff will give it the Punt Drunk treatment it deserves. Don’t expect pleasantries or typical racing media fanboy gloss from Punt Drunk – we’re on the punt and we don’t have time to bullshit; the next is about to jump…