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Caulfield Blue Diamond

February 22nd, 2020

I didn’t fancy the three favourites much. Out the back both Hanseatic and Letzbeglam were gaping and being restrained by a strapper needing two hands. In the yard Hanseatic was all over the shop, reefing and tearing and out early onto the track. And Rulership was rotating his tail in a most impressive manner with his head up and ears back and clearly didn’t want to be there. And I didn’t like Tagaloa who had the stallion chain on in the parade ring. I dislike this gear, especially in young horses. Rathlin looked nice and relaxed at $4.80 so I put my money where my mouth is and backed it. The horse was not favoured by the track bias and got too far back but ran on reasonably well for seventh.

I skipped the Oakleigh plate. It’s just too hard for me with 18 horses in a helter-skelter dash over 1000 metres. The winner Pippie did look good chewing and salivating, but so did a handful of others.

I got some back on the nice-looking head down favourite Kings Will Dream in the last. I backed it with 30 seconds to go at $1.70 but of course it was crunched into $1.50. Not a bad run for second. And as the horses left for the yard Mirage Dancer was suddenly returned to his stall with a lot of fuss. I rushed over expecting to see a bucket of water being flung at this undercarriage. But no, he was being replated! It obviously distracted him as he ran on well for third!

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Flemington Black Caviar: The Great Horse Race Day

February 15th, 2020

The weather is bleak with a miserable drizzle blanketing the track. The misty rain doesn’t even register on the Melbourne radar but it registers on my race book. What a shame! Too wet to bet!

The weather clears enough for me to venture outside from the comfort of my lobby chair and check out the three-year-old colts and geldings. I normally don’t bet on these races as the testosterone interferes with my judgement, but gosh, look at that gelding Alligator Blood. I recall my own advice from the second book and decide to crawl across broken glass to back it. The place price of $1.30 is a bit short and even the win at $1.80 is skimpy. So I go for the win on Betfair at $2.00. I never go the back on Betfair as my brain can get confused. Keep it simple – back on the Tote, lay on the Fair. But rules are meant to be broken, aren’t they? The poker player jumps to the lead but the Kiwi champion goes with him. They thunder head to head down the straight and in a stirring finish Alligator Blood prevails over Catalyst by a nose. What a race! I’ve won! But I’ve broken three or is it four rules: betting on a wet track (Soft 5), backing on Betfair, betting to win, and betting on three-year-old males!

Black Caviar paraded before the Lightning Stakes. The crowd were lined up four deep to get a glimpse of the great mare looking in great condition. Has she really had five foals? That backside looks much the same! I like Redzel and Loving Gaby in the race but keep my powder dry.

In the Vanity for three-year-old fillies Pretty Brazen is pretty relaxed but at $1.50 for the place is too short for me. But generous Tabcorp offered me a 1.2 times multiplier taking it to $1.80. Well within my rules! The horse didn’t disappoint with an even run for second. The day turned out to be not so bleak after all.

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Caulfield CF Orr Stakes Day

February 8th, 2020

The first Group 1 of the season and the punters have emerged from the woodwork. There is a gale force south-easterly blowing and playing havoc with the temperament of horses and watchers alike. The sky is hazy and the wind carries the whiff of smoke from the East Gippsland fire grounds. The wind is so strong that I need one hand to hold onto the brim of my hat in addition to its usual anchor rope. That leaves one hand to hold the race book and no hands to hold the biro!

The good horses are starting to appear now. In the Orr I liked Scales Of Justice who was asleep in his stall. The blue army’s Avilius had no faults and the three-year-old Alabama Express looked striking. Hey Doc looked like a big strong horse, but eventually I crossed him out for being too big and strong and requiring the strapper to use two hands. Mirage Dancer was the obvious lay bouncing his fifth leg off his belly. Clearly his mind wasn’t on the job at hand. In the end it was too hard so I didn’t bet. The three-year-old colt blitzed them with the lay Mirage Dancer tailed off last. Fierce Impact and Kings Will Dream finished second and third and had no faults.

I lost on the day with two fourths, Riverina Storm in the two-year-old fillies, and Mamzelle Tess in the mares. But I left the track in an agreeable state of mind. One punter thought that I looked like a Greek philosopher. Aristotle, he decided. I like that. The Aristotle of horsewatchers!

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Flemington Twilight Meeting

January 18th, 2020

I’m sitting in the lobby of the Club Stand counting my blessings. After all I’ve just seen Sparksy this week and had my insertable cardiac monitor checked. Those who have read the books will be aware of my cardiac adventures and will remember that the electrocardiophysiologist Dr Paul Sparks fixed me up. Well, I’ve had a couple of recent events where I have lost consciousness and banged myself up, so Sparksy stuck this fancy device into my chest which monitors my heart rate and talks to my mobile phone. If there are any problems it then sends a message to him. It’s not a pacemaker or defibrillator so it won’t save me, but a diagnostic tool. So if I do have a heart attack Sparksy will know what killed me. Anyway I’ve had a clear run for over four months, no atrial fibrillation or left bundle branch block, and he doesn’t want to see me for another 12 months!

The lobby

So here I am counting in one of those comfortable chairs when a silver-tailed gentleman comes in and enquires as to whether this is the retirement home for geriatric punters. He’s got it in one! You could go to sleep here. But the lobby is not meant to be too comfortable, just a place to check in and hopefully not check out. The club doesn’t want the seniors to linger too long or set up camp here. There’s only one large screen showing the races in the four corners, no screens showing tote or bookie odds, and no replay screen, but heaps of racing memorabilia, mainly paintings and silverware. If you want racing information you have to find the hidden escalator or struggle upstairs to the Members’ Bar which has replaced the much-missed Island Bar. But I’m now resigned to it all as part of my circuit from the stalls, to the mounting yard, to the betting ring to check the tote screens and bookies odds and then the lobby to watch the race or place a bet on my phone. The times they are a’changing.

And may I say that twilight racing doesn’t really suit me with the first at three o’clock and the last at eight o’clock at night. Small fields and no standouts so I’m home just after six.

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The Zipping Classic

November 16th, 2019

Only two bets in Cup week with a wet racebook so it will be nice to have a go today. In the three-year-old fillies California Salto leaves an impressive trail of sloppy excreta scattered over the yard so I go for the lay. I’m left opposing it at $2.50 for the place when the horse is backed in late to $2.10. Fortunately the horse doesn’t disappoint and labours into sixth place. In the next I take a set against Willliam Thomas but the bane of my life returns when I find my Betfair page is frozen. This often seems to happen, especially after a collect. By the time I have powered off and on the race is away and I have missed another collect.

In the Guineas, Pretty Brazen is an absolute standout and at $1.40 for the place I am forced to bet for a win at $3.60. What a magnificent filly! The name seemed to ring a bell and on checking my records at home I see that I backed this horse as a two-year-old at Flemington back in January. More in store I suggest.

In the classic Zipping looked good, although you may detect a decent bulge under that rug. The winner Southern France looked good too, salivating with the head down, but late into the yard. This time the $1.40 for the place was too short for me.

And so the carnival is over!

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The Melbourne Cup

November 5th, 2019

I spent a few days out at Werribee with the wise old heads, checking out the international horses. After all, it’s not our race anymore, is it? I was quite taken with the Japanese horse and the returning British bulldog. So I put Mer de Glace ahead of Prince of Arran, and then I had Finche, who looked fabulous out at Caulfield. Next came Raymond Tusk, Master of Reality and Southern France. And of course I wouId have put Marmelo in if I was given half a chance! I backed Arran the night before for the top five at $4.00 and then the international box trifecta and the Japanese for the place once I got to the track.

As soon as I got to the stalls I crossed out Mustajeer who looked like he had been caught a rainstorm in his float. The rest looked pretty good except for Master of Reality who was mucking up in his stall. I tried to battle up to the mounting yard but kept getting distracted by various patrons. By the time I made it to the yard the entertainment had started and my usual spot was taken. I finally managed a possie on the corner, two deep. One out and one back! My spot was right next to a loudspeaker and I had to poke my fingers into my ears to prevent being deafened by John Paul Young!

There were three head up horses that I noticed: Master of Reality (also late into the yard), Southern France (also lolling) and Raymond Tusk. I tossed them out of my top six and bunged in Latrobe (salivating) and Surprise Baby (no faults, chewing). And whoa, who’s that? Vow and Declare! Absolutely stunning and a clear standout. Just enough time for another trifecta. I couldn’t have El Paradiso, yet another head up horse.

I’m struggling to remember the last time a horse led at the post the first time around and at the finish? Was it Might and Power? A daring ride and an amazing victory for Australia against strong international competition. So I ended up with only one out of four bets successful and just an average day. Maybe I should have conserved energy and taken up my mounting yard position early and backed the winner for the place. Should’ve, could’ve. The punter’s lament. Oh well, there’s always next year.

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Cox Plate

October 26th, 2019

The pundits are shouting it from the rooftops. Lys Gracieux. The highest rating horse ever to come here from Japan. It must be pretty good then. My first look at Werribee. Head down, relaxed, fabulous. My second look in the stalls. Relaxed, hind toe up. What’s the word? Imperious. My third look, in the yard. A standout. This looks like the best horse ever to come out of Japan!

A bet then. It’s showing $1.50 fixed and $1.90 tote for the place with a few minutes to go. I decide to risk the tote although I know it will be crunched. What a win! The pundits were right! That’s a pretty good horse! And I was quite happy to be crunched to $1.60.

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Caulfield Cup

October 19th, 2019

These big race days make it hard to get to the mounting yard so I spend most of my time out the back around the stalls and parade ring. Even so they still rush them through the parade ring. The first cup horse to arrive was the winner Mer De Glace. I’m always suspicious of the Japanese horses. They are usually highly strung, flighty, with a team of attendants, and bandaged on all four. Mer De Glace was no different. Hand held in the stall, restless, is that two or three fussing strappers, and pacifiers. But fleecy travel boots. I like them – they are rather like my Ug boots!

The horse doesn’t last long and is whipped out to the pre-parade ring. That’s what I would do. Settle it! Walk it! Two hours later it is still walking! And wow. Look at those ribs! Fit enough. I change my mind about Japanese horses. It is ready.

My final six for the trifecta in no particular order was 3, 6, 10, 14, 16, 18. I missed the third horse Mirage Dancer, probably because of the cross-over noseband. My only other bet was on Humma Humma in the mares race. The horse streeted them!

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Caulfield Guineas

October 12th, 2019

Four months in hibernation, so I’m a bit rusty. But I did see some horses at the Terracotta Warriors exhibition. You would probably say they were in need of a run and the wind might whistle through their bowels a bit! And at the track there was a new sculpture of Black Caviar. I did not recognise the horse, but I worked out the jockey Luke Nolan from the name on his pants and I struggled with the trainer Peter Moody. I can’t remember Pete ever being that demonstrative! And Black Caviar’s backside seemed a lot slimmer than the one that is imprinted on my brain. Artistic licence I suppose.

I didn’t get a decent photo of the Guineas winner, Super Seth, mainly because I had ruled it out of contention with the winkers/cross-over noseband combination. But the red muffs and salivation were positives. I’ll need a bit more practice before I blow the cobwebs out of my wallet.

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Flemington Andrew Ramsden Stakes

May 25th, 2019

This used to be a pretty ordinary race over two miles for worn out stayers at the start of winter. But the VRC and Racing Victoria have now given it a boost by doubling the prize money to $400,000, reducing the distance to 2800 metres, restricting the race to three, four and 5-year old horses at weight for age, and giving the winner a golden ticket into the Melbourne Cup. So that piqued my interest!

The form guide and the bookies had it as a two horse race between Steel Prince, with the picket fence form, and the Adelaide Cup winner, Surprise Baby. Ten to one the field bar two. The horsewatcher had it much the same, with a slight preference for the Baby, mainly because the Prince was sweating up. Both looked keen, ears pricked. But both too short at $1.40 the place. It was a stirring race with a dramatic finish. It looked like a dead heat and they would have to find a second golden ticket, but the Prince prevailed by a hair’s breadth. I was happy just to watch. The barrier probably beat the Baby.

I’m out of here now for the winter. Hopefully back in the spring for the Caulfield Guineas.

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