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Australia Day Weekend Races

January 27th, 2018

I don’t like all this upset about Australia Day. I love being a patriotic Australian. But calling it ‘Invasion Day’ is stretching the friendship a bit. Captain Arthur Phillip landed in Sydney Cove on 26 January 1788 with a load of convicts and marines in order to establish a British penal colony. Maybe ‘Colonisation Day’ is a more accurate description. But I do agree it should be an inclusive day. Maybe ‘Dispossession Day’ is less confronting, although I do like ‘Dumping Day’, to celebrate the arrival of the criminal class. But my favourite is ‘Darryl’s Birthday’, if you can remember the story from Watching More. Over 60 years ago now all the kids in our street were tunnelling and burrowing under a heap of wattle branches in our backyard. Auntie Dix appeared with refreshments for the teeming throng: “Do any of you kids know what day it is today?” We all looked at each other without a clue until Darryl from over the road, who had a few kangaroos loose in the top paddock, piped up: “It’s me burfdee!” So Darryl’s Birthday it is. My own opinion is that his birthday can’t be an inclusive day until we cut the ties with Britain and become a republic. And only then can we have a dinky-di, true blue, Australia Day. Get to it, Malcolm!

I thought I’d have a try at the Australia Day weekend double header. I’m not a fan of night racing but maybe I’ll go along to Money Valley for the main race and lay Brave Smash for the place at $1.20. And then maybe I’ll get up early on Saturday for the Blue Diamond Preludes with the two-year-olds at Caulfield, but only if it’s not too hot. So I was all set to catch the tram to the Valley when rumbling thunder and lightning bolts indicated it would be more prudent to stay at home. A quick check of the weather radar confirmed that maybe night racing is not such a good idea, and staying at home and watching is a better option. So I watched Brave Smash get smashed on the TV! Then up early for Caulfield which had been brought forward because of the weather forecast of impending heat. In the two-year-old fillies I crossed them all out, except for a pony. I thought they must have brought the stable pony from the stall by mistake and left the real racehorse behind, but it simply turned out that Lady Horseowner was just a small, but perfectly formed and perfectly well-behaved horse. I had crossed all the others out so I went for the pony. She showed a lot of courage to burst through for a strong win at $2.60 the place. My only bet for the whole weekend. Does that qualify me as an Australian? And I must say I do fancy the Eureka flag. Such a shame it was hijacked by the Builders Labourers Federation.


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Flemington January Raceday

January 20th, 2018

I’ve just about worked out a routine at Flemington. A lap or two of the horse stalls, a charge up the lawn to the mounting yard, and then watch the race from the lawn, or if the gate past the mounting yard is open, a canter over to Saintly Place. This is the part of the Hill Stand I always thought was called the Undercroft, a pretty dismal area under the public stand. But it has been tarted up and is now called Saintly Place, in honour of the legendary trainer, Bart Cummings. And there is a terrific display here of Bart’s trophy collection. Four cabinets full of priceless memorabilia. Bart had nearly 7000 winners including 83 Group 1s, 12 Melbourne Cups, 7 Caulfield Cups, 5 Cox Plates and 4 Golden Slippers. Poor Mrs Bart. Imagine all that dusting.

A quiet day, but a good start with the Hayes import Al Haram, sweating profusely, but as I tell anyone who will listen, which is obviously not many people, that it is a positive on a hot and humid day when the temperature is over 23ºC. The horse lasted for third at $2.20. I gave most of it back on a disappointing River Goddess, which seemed to ring a faint bell in my brain that I’ve been sucked in by this horse before. And then I redeemed myself with a cool Sohool at a generous $2.50 for the place. In the eighth I narrowed it down to three: Amber Sky, Thermal Current and Husson Eagle. The clerk took Amber Sky out onto the track early, which is a negative, although the prominent lolling tongue looks a negative but is pretty much neutral. So I was all set to back Thermal Current when the horse violently resisted the jockey as it went out onto the track. So I just watched them go around and packed my bags for home. But two out of three for the day is not bad. In fact, that’s my long term average. Thank goodness I’m back on track.



Flemington Manifold Stakes Day

January 13th, 2018

I arrive nice and early for the first race, the two-year-olds. Only seven runners and I find that I have crossed six out. So I go for Train The Brave. The horse showed no courage and finished a disappointing fifth of the seven. In the second there are six horses, half of them from DK Weir, so I leave the race alone. In the third Jacquinot Bay is a standout, totally relaxed. But $1.50 the place for a ten-year-old? You must be kidding! Of course, the geriatric brains them! And now, look, the pages of my race book are starting to crinkle from the light rain. In the fourth they are an even lot of three-year-old fillies, and I can’t really sort them. But my straw hat is starting to sag and it too is complaining about the rain. I check the Melbourne radar and it is clearly not going to improve. I decide discretion is the better part of valour and head off home. A pretty miserable start to the year. The streak is definitely over!


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