The Melbourne Mail: 2022 Champions Day

The final day of the Melbourne Cup Carnival is now Champions Day. Neat branding but, most importantly, top sport.


It would want to be good - putting a dent in Derby Day is not something to be done lightly - and it is. A scan of the winners on the biggest race days this year quickly highlights how good. 

Taking an average of the best six winners, using Racing And Sports' ratings, Golden Slipper Day can claim to have been the best day of racing in Australia in 2022 - if 'best' can be taken to mean home to top-rated performances. 

118.5 is the average of the best six winners on Slipper Day which tops a Cox Plate Day beefed up by the Manikato in 2022 and clocking in at 117. Championships Day One and Epsom Day follow at 116.8 and 116.5 respectively. 

But if the top rated horses win on Saturday, or at least take a similar level of performance to knock them off, then the first Champions Day at Flemington is set to clock in just shy of 119. 

That number is led by three genuine Group One contests - no need to go into them in these pages as they have been written about and spoken about ad naseum. Such nausea inducing chat can be found here in the Punters Preamble - and underpinned by a deep undercard that has held up just as well. 

The Matriarch is one such race. Seven of the dozen set to go to post can claim to have previously produced a rating that matches the ten-year average winning rating in the Matriarch and one of those has the absolute honour of being posted as the Melbourne Mail's best of the day. 

That horse is Atishu and the ace up her sleeve is the trip. In her 16th appearance since crossing the Tasman, Atishu finally gets to 2000m. 

Her lone try at 1 1⁄4 m, her last run in New Zealand, said that the trip wasn't just within range but in the absolute sweet spot. Modest rivals and a modest overall time perhaps but there was nothing modest about the closing burst she deployed to destroy them. 

This clue wasn't subtle. Atishu is smart. Atishu is a 1 1⁄4 m horse. Part one has been confirmed in Australia where she is a Group Three winner but she hasn't been afforded the chance to confirm part two.

Another strong finish in the Empire Rose has finally kicked that door The yard concedes, she gets her chance, and she does it with the gun jock booked.

For an each-way play we roll to the last, a betting bonanza to close the card and a most interesting runner in former South African, Najem Suhail.

Najem Suhail was quickly smart, rated 102 when placed in the Group Two Nursery in South Africa at just his second start, but it was 819 days before we saw him again at Mornington. From De Kock Senior to Junior. 

Understandably, there was some rust to shake off and a couple of runs clocked in a long way from that 102 peak, but with a couple of runs under the belt and good ground at Sale it all came back. 

Right near his top with the time of the day at Sale - bundles of pace and a win by a space. Just what the yard would have wanted to see before sending him on his way to Flemington for the race that they have had success in previously. 

A Cup-winning jock won't hurt and he is drawn where the race looks set to develop, around the key chances and the speed. It reads well and $8.00 appeals as a fine way to end a top week. 


THE MELBOURNE MAIL (Odds courtesy of Ladbrokes)

Bet Of The Day: Race 5 #4 Atishu @ $4.50

Each Way Play: Race 9 #9 Najem Suhail @ $8.00

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