I love this meeting. The last hurrah for the Spring Carnival. A second chance for the Cup horses. The weather has usually turned, the crowds have diminished, and there is plenty of room to move around and look at the horses. I’m keen to get there for the two-year-olds, but today I’m staying at home and for the first time will have to watch it on the telly on racing.com. There is perhaps a five minute segment called the “Mounting Yard” where you get a brief glimpse of the horses parading with comments from the form experts and Lizzie Jelfs, the mounting yard expert. She does a very good job, considering the conditions under which she has to work. She can’t get out to the stalls or parade ring. And from the centre of the yard it must be hard to see what the horse is doing with the bit and what the strapper is doing when you are standing on the off side. Lizzie concentrates on three main variables – coat condition, fitness, and to a lesser extent arousal – with comments such as “coat nice and healthy”, “coat gleaming”, “extremely fit”, “muscle tone excellent”, “walks out nice and cleanly”, “a good walker”, and “spring in the step”. Horses on their toes are sometimes regarded as being ready to run and other times as being too aroused. I found it all a bit distracting and in the end did a Lloyd Williams and turned the sound off.
But back to the two-year-olds. I marked Arctic Angel a standout after a brief five second view. I fired up the iPhone and saw $2.37 fixed or $2.50 on the tote. I took the tote and soon realised that everyone watching racing.com had seen the same thing as me and had backed it in to $2.00. It won in a breeze. I saw a couple of other nice horses during the afternoon, including Qewy, and Morton’s Fork, but they were too short and so I put my cue in the rack. And too often the horse you want to see is missed altogether or is just a backside heading off to the barrier. But at least I have demonstrated to myself that it is possible to get a feeling for how a horse feels even if you are not at the track.
The bottom line: you can’t beat being there and seeing and hearing up close!