THE group 1-winning run of Newcastle Cup winners on Saturday surely will bring calls for the great race to return to its glory days as a group 2 event.
In Sydney, reigning Newcastle Cup winner Glencadam Gold smashed his rivals in the group1 Metropolitan (2400metres).
He immediately jumped from a $23 chance to be installed as $6 favourite for the Caulfield Cup after the dominant front-running display.
In Melbourne, the Newcastle Cup winner of two years ago, Green Moon, turned in a stunning performance to take the group1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) at Flemington.
Green Moon was forced to work early after sitting three-wide but still proved too strong at the finish.
Green Moon is right in the betting for the Cox Plate and Melbourne Cup.
The Newcastle Cup was last run as a group2 event in 2001.
Agincourt Express was a heavily backed favourite and did the punters proud.
The following year, when Time Off won the Cup, he scored a group3 win and it has been that way since.
Surely now with the results of Saturday, plus what lies ahead for Glencadam Gold and Green Moon, an upgrading must be a distinct possibility.
A group 2 Newcastle Cup on the Broadmeadow track – now that would be something to see.
■ There is a touch of Malcolm Johnston in racing’s new glamour boy Tommy Berry.
The 21-year-old strutted his stuff in the best possible way by winning the group1 Epsom on Fat Al and The Metropolitan on Glencadam Gold at Randwick on Saturday.
Both were dashing, front-running rides.
After both, he was flashing a brilliant smile that bordered on cheeky.
In the early 1980s, when Mal Johnston was the undisputed king of Sydney racing, he loved the limelight, ate it for breakfast, dinner and tea.
In fact, ‘‘Miracle’’ was an unabashed self-promoting machine.
But, boy, couldn’t he ride, coming from the country to be a champion apprentice and champion senior rider in Sydney.
Young Tommy has progressed from winning an apprentice’s title in Sydney to now being one of the best riders in the big show, and another racing legend looks to have been born.
All he needs to do now is conquer the Melbourne spring carnival.
And that is a distinct possibility.
■ Of course, the late, great Tommy Smith would have been sitting in the big grandstand in the sky smiling and riding home daughter Gai’s winners in the Epsom, Metropolitan and Breeders Plate at Randwick, and in the Gilgai Stakes at Flemington.
That Gai has equalled her father’s record of seven Epsom wins and surpassed TJ with eight Metrop victories says so much about the daughter of the legend.
She carries the sport’s promotion on her shoulders.
But is she a better trainer than Tommy? I doubt it.
No one was before him and no one, even the great Bart Cummings, has shown he is better since.
■ It is not the big handout from Racing NSW to Newcastle that is causing problems.
But plenty of Novocastrians see the funding as giving with one hand and taking with the other.
In receiving the $11.2 million in track funding, Newcastle Jockey Club must cut its board from 10 to seven, and three of those will be appointees of Racing NSW.
That is one reason members have called a special meeting for tomorrow night to discuss what can be done.
NJC chairman Geoff Barnett has weighed into the debate.
He is asking members to vote for constitutional changes to the club.
‘‘Regarding the constitutional changes, the NJC board have requested from our lawyers to provide the changes in draft form,’’ Barnett said.
‘‘This is so members can be advised of the changes before our annual general meeting in November.
‘‘The changes can only be made if the members attending the meeting vote in favour.’’
Barnett described the funding as a chance to restore Broadmeadow as a leading track in Australia.
‘‘This funding is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make Broadmeadow a great racing centre again.
‘‘I also believe that the new board structure can work very well.
‘‘I will be advocating this to our members before the AGM.
‘‘We do not want to jeopardise the $11.2 million funding.
‘‘We all know what needs doing at the track, and this funding will ensure the improvements are carried out.
‘‘The NJC will request members to change the constitution to four voted-in board members and three appointees.
‘‘The appointees are to be Newcastle people and selected from a list, made up in conjunction with Racing NSW and the newly elected members.’’
■ It was great that Bart Cummings was on-track to see his 265th group 1 winner when Norzita blitzed her rivals in the Flight Stakes.
But it would not surprise if Bart got just as big a thrill out of imported stayer Dare To Dream’s third in the Group 3 Craven Plate (2000m).
Dare To Dream is ready to win now, and old Bart just may have another cup on his mantelpiece before the end of the spring.
■ Thank goodness Ray Murrihy and his stewards were asking questions after Fat Al led all the way to win the Epsom.
A week earlier, Fat Al took a sit behind the pace in the Shannon Stakes when ridden by Nash Rawiller and was beaten easily as a $1.35 favourite.
After grilling Tommy Berry over his riding instructions, stewards accepted the explanation.
Wonder if punters who laid the tomato sauce last week and were gun-shy to back up on Saturday were also easily appeased.
■ Apprentice Rachel Murray was in hot water with stewards at Broadmeadow on Saturday.
They alleged she tried to weigh out in race five with an unapproved safety vest.
Steward Ray Livingstone asked Murray to produce the vest, but she allegedly showed stewards a different vest.
She was suspended for two weeks on that charge.
Murray was fined $300 for trying to weigh out with a vest that was lighter than the approved brands.
‘‘She pleaded guilty to both charges and was remorseful,’’ chief steward Danny Greer said.
■ Newcastle trainer Paul Perry looks to have another handy youngster.
That is the opinion after his two-year-old Wouldn’t It Be Nice finished fourth in the Breeders Plate on Saturday.
The youngster got going only when he was taken off the rails in the straight.
There are wins in him.
■ Marina Sands achieved a rare feat when winning at Newcastle on Saturday.
The three-year-old geld-ing won over 900 metres in 50.98 seconds, which was a class record.The course record of 50.08 seconds was set by Johnny on December 15, 2007.