A rising nine year old doesn’t run in the Grand National but tackles the states best sprinters in the Sir John Monash Stakes.
The Monash Stakes, the penultimate “black type” race of the Victorian calendar is named after one of the states most important citizens.
Born in West Melbourne on the 27th of June 1865, John Monash was a pivotal figure in the early decades of the last century. His long shadow stretches across the battlefields of Gallipoli and France through corridors of power in Europe and Melbourne.
He was at various times in his life a son, student, father, husband, civil engineer, bridge builder, company director, public servant, Vice Chancellor of the University of Melbourne and a soldier.
He led men at Gallipoli and France earning distinction, admiration and promotion, ending the war with the rank of General. Monash was knighted on the 12th of August 1918 as a “Knight Commander of the Order Of The Bath”. The ceremony performed by King George V, was the first time a British monarch honoured a commander on the battlefield in over 200 years.
On his return to Melbourne, Monash was in high demand from all sectors of the community.
From October 1920 Monash was head of the relatively newly formed State Electricity Commission of Victoria. The SECV undertook the difficult task of turning the moist brown coal of the Latrobe Valley into a power resource. He was Vice-Chancellor of the University of Melbourne from 1923 until his death in 1931.
He was fundamental in the planning and building of the Shrine of Remembrance and the formation and observance of Anzac Day. A bronze statue of Monash stands in Kings Domain a short idle from the Shrine.
Monash passed away in Melbourne on the 8th of October 1931 aged 66; he was awarded a state funeral at which an estimated 250,000 people lined the streets of Melbourne to pay their respects, nearly one in four of the populace.
The Monash legacy remains to this day, with Monash University, The City of Monash, Monash Medical Centre and the Monash Freeway. His face looks back at you on the $100 note, many of which will exchange hands on the race that bears his name this Saturday at Caulfield.
The Listed $100,000 Sir John Monash Stakes is significant in that it reminds us of a great man. The race also denotes spring and the horses that are Caulfield / Melbourne Cup bound aren’t far away.
Tony Vasil will be trying to win the Monash for the fourth time with his newly acquired galloper Green Birdie; the Caulfield trainer won the race with Lucky Secret in 2007 and Super Elegant who went back to back in 2004 / 2005.
At his best Green Birdie would eat a field of this quality however it’s been some time since the son of Catbird breasted the tape. You have to wind the clock back to the 16th of May 2010 when Green Birdie beat a promising type named Rocket Man in the Group One Krisflyer.
Older ponies lose that dash and the speed in his step is not going to be there like it was in the early years. The 1100m a shade short considering he is first up since December.
He can run a cheeky race from the back of the field, which he’ll be forced to do from gate 17. This might not be his stage but in two weeks time the Bletchingly over 1200m has a nice ring to it.