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Nov 4, 2008


Was that a tear in the eye of the Old Grey Fox after masterminding his 12th Melbourne Cup win? Looking closely behind those sunglasses, there were the unmistakable signs of welling emotion – quivering lip and tears being brushed away – and why wouldn’t there be? It’s not every day an 80-year-old trains the winner of Australia’s greatest race. Not wanting to appear a sentimental old fool, Bart put the sniffle down to hayfever.  “Not really, it just happens to be a nice win, that’s all,” he said when asked if he felt emotional.

There were many others at Flemington who felt like crying, too: Luca Cumani, who finished second in the Cup for the second straight year, this time by a nostril; Aidan O’Brien, whose three starters, including the much-vaunted ‘world’s best stayer’ Septimus, filled positions 18, 20 and 21 respectively; the plethora of punters seduced by stories about the Irish master and his stable of stars who were left with empty pockets; and the long queues of desperates waiting interminably for the ‘conveniences’.

And then there was your correspondent, dutifully going about his business, looking for a few gems to bring devoted Crikey sportsbloggers. In a conversation before the race with Dato Tan Chin Nam, introduced via a mutual friend, the Malaysian entrepreneur was anxious to spruik the abilities of his Cummings-trained five-year-old stallion. ”Viewed is a very good horse, very good horse. We are confident.”

The pitch fell on deaf ears. I nodded distractedly, thinking about the Flexi Box Trifecta I was going to put on with the O’Brien trio, Bauer, Profound Beauty, Master O’Reilly and one or two others. It proved to be a complete bust, of course. I had been tipped the winner by its owner, a bloke who had won three Cups before, and who was in league with the Master Trainer himself, and completely ignored it. In fact, I had nine horses in a various range of exotics – none of them called Viewed – and the only minor collect came via Cumani’s Bauer in second place. It was all I deserved.

There’ll be plenty of hard-luck sories to top that. Make me feel better and tell me some of them.