2024 Elwick Stakes - The Case For Viola Vivace

Storm Boy has set the two-year-old season going and it rolls on this Sunday in the city built on Storm Bay.


"The Tasmanian Tiger, or thylacine, shows the susceptibility of island life to outside invaders. The thylacine was out-competed on mainland Australia by the dingo, but clung on in the southern isle until the white man brought guns, dogs and an intense dislike of all things that ate his sheep to Tasmania."

           – David Hunt. True Girt.

Hobart was settled by the British in 1804 and it wasn't all just about drinking rum and clubbing seals. It's place on the east coast of Tasmania set it up as a defence against other Europeans exploring the Pacific – mainly the French.

Nowadays there is very little (legal) clubbing of marine life and the French have made it to land, turning pinot and chardonnay into top Tassie bubbles, but some things stay the same. Sunday's Elwick Stakes is evidence of that as the locals set up to defend themselves from seafaring explorers.

Viola Vivace comes via Mornington rather than Marseille but the locals, who look typical of what turns up in an Elwick Stakes, will be no less interested in pushing her back out to sea empty handed.

It has been over a decade since the Elwick Stakes trophy was taken to the mainland but, like the Tasmanian Tiger, those on the island have survived with little competition from invaders and their guns. The Hayes boys are cleaner cut than Tasmania's early settlers (their Euroa base slightly more luxurious than the penal colonies of 1804) but, with Viola Vivace, they may front up on Sunday with a gun.   

"We thought this was the best option. She has drawn well. She has travelled over well, and she is a real good chance." A (probably) clean-shaven Ben Hayes told RSN.

The evidence for Viola Vivace being a gun is scant, she only beat two untested rivals on debut, but as they say: A man with one watch knows what time it A man with two watches is never sure.

The one watch we have speaks highly of Viola Vivace. This watch allows us to place Viola Vivace into the context of more than just the two others in her race. It allows, via standard times, for her to be compared with all other races and runners on the card.

Three other races over the same 5 f further our cause and it is these direct comparisons that throw a favourable light over Viola Vivace. The maiden winner Amigo can carry the narrative; rated 101 before winning there and having won again nicely since.

The highlight of Amigo's Mornington display was not his overall time but the way in which he achieved it – finishing fast. a comparable time from Viola Vivace needs further context still, but she, like Amigo, was going away from the chasers at the finish.

Given the comparison we can be confident that Viola Vivace is good enough to be rated in the high 90s. In the past dozen years two have run past a Racing and Sports Rating of 100 in the Elwick Stakes: Mystic Journey and Admiral - two fine Tasmanian Tigers who had nothing to fear from dingos from the mainland. Only one other has gone past the 98-rated Bush Aviator, the last explorer to win here back in 2012, leaving the other native nine with a winning average of just over 90.

That is the sort of rating that this year's leading local, defender of the Derwent, Geegees Mistruth, profiles to run and we don't know all there is to know about her either. But some simple thinking, outlined above, makes the case for Viola Vivace a strong one. It is hardly copper bottomed, hanging on one data point as it does, but one good piece of data is a whole lot better than lots of bad data. And anyway, bad data is like bad sex; you're better off not having it and just thinking for yourself.

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