On a win­ner

Kyabram Free Press - - NEWS -

ONE of the most re­silient Mel­bourne Cup stay­ers is not even a horse.

The Kyabram Club can rightly claim that its Mel­bourne Cup eve Cal­cutta has far from run its race even though it was first held in 1963.

A large and ex­pec­tant crowd again at­tended the Cal­cutta last week and de­spite tight eco­nomic times money was splashed around as pun­ters and syn­di­cates both large and small were en­gulfed in Cup fever.

Some 18 of the 23 starters in the Cup fetched $1000 or more when auc­tioned. Vet­eran Cal­cutta at­ten­dees say this has never hap­pened be­fore, not even when the Cal­cutta at­tracted the largest pool in 2015 when Prince Of Pen­zance won the Cup. Last week’s Cal­cutta pool of $27,050 fell just short of the 2015 record.

There were some two-legged stay­ers who were at the Cal­cutta in 1963 and were still there last week.

One such per­son was for­mer mayor of Kyabram Kevin An­drews. He has missed just two Cal­cut­tas and was a mem­ber of one of the orig­i­nal syn­di­cates, ‘The Mon­grels’, which has also sur­vived the long haul from day one and is still not fright­ened to put its money where its mouth is.

No doubt draw­ing or buy­ing 10 win­ners and a host of placeget­ters over the years has been help­ful in this syn­di­cate main­tain­ing its en­thu­si­asm for the Cal­cutta.

Then there are other proven track spe­cial­ists Purd and Greg.

Greg is Greg Cald­well. With some help in lat­ter years from his son Rod, Greg has been the auc­tion­eer at the Cal­cutta for 44 years, as­sist­ing the leg­endary Frank Ruler be­fore tak­ing the reins in 1973.

Greg has also proved he has the abil­ity to stay all day but he would be first to ad­mit it’s get­ting a bit of a strug­gle to run out the 3200 me­tres at full tilt.

Purd, of course, is Kyabram icon Ian Purdey. He has em­ceed the Cal­cutta for nearly 40 years. His abil­ity to in­volve the au­di­ence in a light-hearted way amid what can be very se­ri­ous busi­ness deals has made him a master at this ca­per.

The $16,230 first prize ‘The Tur­tle Men’ syn­di­cate col­lected last week when it drew and bought the Cup win­ner Rekin­dling for $800 is a far cry from the early days of the Cal­cutta when the first prize was about the equiv­a­lent of $600.

Syn­di­cates now dom­i­nate the Cal­cutta be­cause big money can be raised by peo­ple who buy large blocks of tick­ets in the draw to im­prove the odds of draw­ing a horse.

But hav­ing a fist­ful of tick­ets in the draw isn’t a guar­an­tee of suc­cess.

One law-abid­ing syn­di­cate spent nearly $800 on tick­ets and never drew a horse. Out of frus­tra­tion the syn­di­cate bought one at the auc­tion just to say it had a run­ner.

And it would have been a good re­sult if the race was halted the first time the field passed the fin­ish­ing post!

But it’s a safe bet this syn­di­cate will be back big­ger, bet­ter — and more hope­ful — next year.

That’s the at­trac­tion of the Mel­bourne Cup... and the Kyabram Club Cal­cutta.

Auc­tion­eer Greg Cald­well and MC Ian Purdey, who have en­ter­tained Cal­cutta crowds for 40 years.

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