Australia: people of Melbourne are the real spring stars
Melbourne's passionate racing fans bring the spring carnival to life
PICTURE: Getty Images The people of Melbourne are the real spring stars By Mark Scully in Melbourne 10:30AM 5 NOV 2016
HOW to reflect on a Melbourne Spring Carnival that has delivered plenty of fun, drama and no shortage of fine equine performances too?
It was Jameka who got the ball rolling, surging away to the biggest win in the career of not only herself but her trainer Ciaron Maher. Scottish chased her home and served notice that the Charlie Appleby team meant business.
Qewy won a Geelong Cup, Francis Of Assisi bagged a Bendigo Cup and the Queen Elizabeth Stakes and Oceanographer surged into the Melbourne Cup field with a thrilling Lexus Stakes win.
Kerrin McEvoy was the man doing the steering on almost all of the above and plenty of other winners besides, not least in the Melbourne Cup itself aboard Almandin. What better way to mark the imminent birth of your fourth child than nicking a few dollars of extremely useful prize money?
Hugh Bowman had a good time of things too, riding his fair share of winners but one in particular ensured he will be remembered forever, with Winx delivering a performance for the ages in the Cox Plate.
She was electric and so too was the atmosphere at Caulfield, Moonee Valley, Flemington and country tracks across Victoria. The weather did not always live up to the standards one might expect of Australia but the revelry most certainly did.
The carnival would be nothing without the great people of Melbourne and beyond and their enthusiastic embracing of each and every day made the whole thing come alive.
In was a privilege to see Jameka, Winx and Almandin. A privilege to join in with 27,000 people belting out 'The Horses' at Moonee Valley (look it up). A privilege to hear a roar to rival Cheltenham as the gates opened in the Melbourne Cup.
Melbourne, it was a privilege to be here and I cannot wait to be back.
Leaving with a heavy heart
Alas, I cannot go out on a high note after learning this morning of the terrible fate that has befallen Freddy Tylicki, news met with total shock among his riding colleagues here.
Freddy was born to ride horses and absolutely loves his job, which makes this awful news that much harder to accept.
Up until this harrowing point, 2016 had been his year of years. He returned from a winter in Dubai rejuvenated and landed his first Group 1 wins courtesy of the wonderful Speedy Boarding, a filly he had known from day one had the ability to go far.
On the second occasion, at Chantilly, Freddy's mother and sister were on hand to share in the joy and reflect once again upon how proud he had made them and indeed all of us who know and love him.
He was inches away from his dream of emulating his late father and winning a German Derby in the summer, a goal that meant so much to him and his family and something which, at such a young age, was still surely to be achieved in his future.
But now this. As shellshocked as I am to be writing this, it is nothing compared to the thoughts that must be going through Freddy's head. That life can be so devastatingly altered in a matter of seconds is difficult to fathom.
There is some good news though, buried beneath the rubble of this heartbreaking situation. Freddy has the most infectious smile and laugh, something he has not lost. Nor has he lost his sharp mind and his kindness.
He has not lost his friends and family either. We, like everybody in racing, will always be here for him and support him as he faces up to this next challenging chapter of his life.
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