Last month I promised to look at Adelaide and Brisbane in this second part of our history excursion. Also we have to consider the Sydney Cup. In fact, let's look at the cups in detail. We must first clean up on Sydney with an overview of what the past can teach us about the Sydney Cup, and what it can teach us for our little black books.

Once the poor relation, it has achieved a status of its own. For all that, it can never reach the lofty heights of the Melbourne Cup, and frankly I doubt very much if the general public could name any winners of the race except maybe Carbine, Kingston Town and Reckless. Maybe one or two in every thousand would remember that the last two cups were won by Tie The Knot.

So, is it won by lesser animals than those which win the southern cups? No, not necessarily, although I would suggest that the overall standard of the race is very poor by comparison. You can end up with a handful of chaff bandits going around in merry-go-round style, watching each other like hawks until the final sprint. Fine stuff to watch!

You can end up with pretenders in the placings. But rarely in the winner's stall. That place is usually reserved for very good animals.

Occasionally the winners are really top-line horses. Look at the list in the past decades: Tie The Knot twice, Linesman, Count Chivas (second, Melbourne and Caulfield Cups), Daacha, Cross Swords, Azzaam, My Eagle Eye, just A Dancer (Brisbane Cup too), King Aussie, Palace Revolt, Banderol, Major Drive, Marooned (a classy one that), Late Sho-A,, Trissaro, Veloso, Azawary, Our Paddy Boy, Kingston Town (three Cox Plates, second Melbourne Cup), Double Century, My Good Man and Reckless (won Brisbane, Adelaide, second in Melbourne Cup).

One thing to note is that the weather often plays into the hands of the "muddies" and the likes of King Aussie and Palace Revolt (between them responsible for two of the all-time slowest times over 3200 metres) got away with the race.

Runners-up also were often very good horses. For example, Doriemus, winner of the Caulfield Cup and Melbourne Cup and placed in another Caulfield Cup (lipped by Might And Power), in the famous 1997 Sydney Cup was beaten by a precocious three-year-old called Tie The Knot. Runner-up in 1993 was Te Akan Nick, second at cricket score odds in a Melbourne Cup behind the top visitor Vintage Crop.

Castletown (third in Melbourne Cup), Double Century, Gold And Black (Melbourne Cup winner) and Grand Scale also ran second. Back in 1969, dual Melbourne Cup winner Rain  Lover ran second in the Sydney Cup.

In 1961, an elderly and less-than100 per cent Tulloch was caught by the very smart stayer Sharply, to whom he gave about 14 kilograms in weight. Tulloch had his revenge in Brisbane.

So, the word is, if you don't pick the winner, at least hold onto it and the runner-up with a view to the big southern cups. Generally, though, this is not a good guide for Brisbane.

As to third places, last year Lahar ran third at 25/1, then ran equalthird at a million to one, or so it seemed, in the Melbourne Cup. Beaux Art ran third in 1996 after a third in the 1995 Caulfield Cup. Subzero ran third after winning the 1992 Melbourne Cup. Castletown ran a gallant third to complement his second, then ran his third placing in the Melbourne Cup behind Subzero and Veandercross.

Way back in 1945, Russia ran second, then he ran third in 1946 and went to Melbourne and won the Cup.

So the clues are all over the place, and I have taken only random samples. Maybe there's a trend there for you to dig out, if you have the time. Drag out the Miller's Guide and see what you can find. But most of all, don't throw away the results of this year's, or last year's, Sydney Cup. The placegetters often feature in the prominent spring racing, especially in the Melbourne Cup.

That isn't so hard to understand really, as so few horses in the top bracket get a strong 3200 metres. So if a horse shows it can do so, it may well do so again. Even if it doesn't have the (apparent) necessary form to support its claims.

Next, the Brisbane Cup. I was flabbergasted by the decision of the connections of the 1999 winner, Sheer Kingston, to go weight-for~ age in the spring. He won the Adelaide and Brisbane Cups in a canter, and must have been a big show for the Melbourne Cup. Yet he ran in the Moonee Valley Cup, at set weights, and missed the big prize. The way he won the two handicaps, I would rate him a huge chance for any such event in this year's calendar.

Praise Indeed's win in 1998 showed unusual strength for the Sydney Cup contingent that try out for this race. He had two placings in that event. just A Dancer, Reckless and Lord Hybrow were other winners who had
raced well in Sydney. The vast majority that tried, failed.

Reckless went on to run a nostril second in Melbourne and I'll always remember the rider of Lord Hybrow returning, after parking the horse three and four wide for 2000 metres, and saying "the horse didn't stay".

Didn't stay three miles, true.

The first thing to do with the Brisbane Cup is to eliminate any contender that is carrying more than 55.5 kilograms. That is the highest weight to win in 25 years.

Most of them come home with between 53 and 48.5 kilos.

Second placings in the past 20 years have also been 55.5 kilos tops, except for two 56-ers, and 55.5 tops third place for the past two decades as well.

So, a limit of 55.5 would be a very good place to start. Then, for the future, strike out all of them for the Melbourne Cup winner's circle. Baghdad Note ran a third back in 1973, and dual Caulfield Cup and Australian Cup winner Ming Dynasty ran second in 1978. But in 20 years nothing from this event has featured in the south except for Larry Pickering's Rising Fear which nearly stole At Talaq's cup in 1986.

Just A Dancer disgraced himself in Melbourne in 1991 after winning the two northern cups. Few locals have won the race, and the "tourists" usually reign supreme. But whatever they do, it appears that, apart from a very select few, they are not good enough to carry the form to Melbourne.

On to the Adelaide Cup, then. This is a good guide to other events, and the race itself is won by very good stayers.

Sheer Kingston is mentioned above. The runner-up in 1999, Skybeau, already had a big third in the 1996 Melbourne Cup to boast about. A very smart two-miler, he is probably past it now, but he had his days. In the 1996 Adelaide Cup he ran second as a three-year-old, a guide to his chances in the Melbourne Cup six months later.

In 1998 The Hind won as a three year-old. I will remind you just one last time that with art unimpeded run he would have won the 1999 Melbourne Cup.

Wet weather-lover Cronus won the year before and may have gone close in bigger races had he stayed sound. Favourite at one time or other for two cups, he did enough here and in New Zealand to secure his permanent reputation.

Our Pompeii won twice, and he too ruled as a Melbourne Cup favourite twice for extended periods. He started favourite at 5/1 in Vintage Crop's Cup in 1993, but finished fourteenth. Water Boatman ran second to Sydeston in the 1990 Caulfield Cup.

Lord Reims won in 1987 then repeated the dose at 14/1 in the Caulfield Cup, and won in Adelaide again in 1988, and again in 1989. It would have been nice to hitch onto his star!

In 1986 Mr Lomondy won, amidst all sorts of ballyhoo re his form, ability to run the distance, and so on, then led most of the way to win the Caulfield Cup at 33/1. I know this was a decade or more back, but winners at 14/1 and 33/1 pay for a lot of losers.

Hyperno won in 1978 and won the big cherry in 1979, while the ever-consistent Reckless won in 1977. You know, that horse doesn't get the recognition he deserves. He won the Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide Cups and was second by a hair in the Melbourne Cup.

So there's enough in this race to make it essential study for the spring races. As to the race itself, apart from Lord Reims' third win with 57kg, no horse since Hyperno in 1978 carried above 55.5kg to victory.

This holds true for ALL places. So. if you fancy a horse weighted to carry, say, 56 kilos or more, you are betting against the established history of the race,

Three great races. Will history rule? Very soon, we shall see.

Click here to read Part 1.

By The Optimist