All Too Hard or Pierro? Either way, it's a must-see match
ROOTS 'N' ALL
Unbeaten in Sydney ... Pierro. Photo: Jenny Evans
Opinion and expectation live a marriage of interdependence in racing like no other sport.
For every opinion, there is an expectation. When expectation is fulfilled opinion raises, if it is not met the fall can be swift.
So, Black Caviar's unbeaten record breeds an expectation that defeat will never come. She is unique in that the opinion is almost universal. The expectation brings record crowds and new fans to the track.
Capitalising on the Black Caviar phenomenon is racing's biggest challenge, but the three-year-old class of 2013, led by her half-brother All Too Hard and Pierro, gives racing opportunity.
Opinion is this is the best group of classic horses since 1996 when Octagonal, Saintly, Nothin' Leica Dane and Filante thrilled punters with their autumn clashes. There would be only one winner in 1996, Octagonal, but the group went on to dominate the next couple of years.
Which is the best three-year-old this year will be debated until All Too Hard and Pierro meet again. Add a supporting cast of Rebel Dane, Proisir and It's A Dundeel, and like 1996, it's unlikely to be a two-horse show. However, the star pair already have a rivalry. All Too Hard and Pierro have clashed four times, with the honours even. Pierro won twice in Sydney before All Too Hard gained his revenge in Melbourne, winning the Caulfield Guineas and running second in the Cox Plate, 3¾ lengths ahead of Pierro in third.
The opinion of Pierro is underlined by his unbeaten record in Sydney, where the two stars will meet in the coming month. He showed his quality in Saturday's Hobartville Stakes by holding off a fit Rebel Dane in a show of determination.
He will get better for that run, and trainer Gai Waterhouse has declared him the best she has trained. The expectation is he won't be beaten this autumn.
All Too Hard was born with expectation. Black Caviar's relation brought a $1 million price as a yearling. He lived up to that as two-year-old, winning three races to be Golden Slipper favourite, but he missed the race, won by Pierro.
Expectation will have punters matching All Too Hard or Pierro in their minds. It might not come in the Randwick Guineas at Warwick Farm on Saturday week because of the minor setback to All Too Hard and a hard run for Pierro last weekend. The Canterbury Stakes, which rises to group 1 level for the first time, looms as an option a week later.
But the sense of theatre would have punters waiting until April 6and the George Ryder Stakes. That would give plenty of time for opinions, and let expectation build.