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The Melbourne Cup

November 7th, 2017

There are, apparently, two types of serious punter. Clockers and watchers. It is not often that I wander over to the dark side but last week I spent a couple of days out at Werribee to cast an eye over the internationals. My attempts at clocking were fumbling and rudimentary, but to my untrained eye and hand Max Dynamite looked the goods.

And so to the Cup. Usually I place my bet in the last minute before the jump once I have watched all twenty-four horses parade in the mounting yard. But today, in response to the poor conditions for watchers at Flemington, I metamorphosed into a clocker. And can you believe it I placed my bet on Max at 13.41, 79 minutes before the jump!

Go Max!



Derby Day

November 4th, 2017

I’m like a broken record. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – Derby Day, the greatest day of racing on earth. But today, there’s a problem, apart from the weather. There’s an icy wind which requires deployment of my heavy duty winter coat to prevent hypothermia, and a blazing sun which requires the simultaneous deployment of my straw hat to prevent sunburn. Oh how I love my Melbourne!

My mission today, should I decide to accept it, is to work out a way to follow a horse from the stalls and/or parade ring to the mounting yard. And of course that’s the problem. There is a building site in between. I try two strategies – an inside run and an outside run.

I go first for the outside run up the public lawn. It works well for the Wakeful Stakes and I manage to spot a relaxed Luva Luva in both stall and yard. It should be a strong chance in the Oaks. The inside run is harder and involves battling through the betting ring and finding a hidden pathway next to the building site which leads to a pop-up bar area cluttered with stools and tables, but good mounting yard views. I try the inside run for the Lexus, but fail dismally. For the Myer Classic I go outside again but the crowd has built up to more than 80,000 and it’s virtually impossible to weave a way through. I’m going to blame the crowd for picking a disappointing loser in Heavens Above. I give up for the Derby and just pick the winner Ace High based on his good appearance in the stall.

Cup Day will be difficult. I hope I don’t self-destruct.


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Cox Plate

October 28th, 2017

I arrived in time for the third race to find big crowds in front of stall 54. It must be Winx. On closer inspection I found the stall to be empty although the photographers didn’t seem to care! Gosh, Charlotte, that must be some horse!

In the fifth I saw a lovely relaxed-looking mare, Lubiton, who streeted them at $2.20 the place. And in the seventh I had a bit on I’ll Have A Bit, who paraded with a lolling tongue, which is actually quite a positive. The horse ran on well for second at $2.80. So coming into the Cox Plate I was quite cashed up.

Winx looked much the same as last time. Maybe swishing the tail a bit more. My place bet was between Royal Symphony, Gailo Chop, Humidor and FolkswoodFolkswood had the Hanoverian nose band and winkers, so that was no-no, Royal Symphony looked fabulous in his stall, Humidor had the ear muffs and two strappers and Gailo Chop was a clean sheet, alert and interested. I pulled the wrong rein and went for Gailo Chop. Oh well, two out of three. I didn’t stay for the last.



Caulfield Cup

October 21st, 2017

There’s a chill in the air and lots of goosebumps. An omen, perhaps. I like to have a go at the trifecta in the big races, but it’s virtually impossible to see them in the mounting yard. I usually end up four deep or find hats and beers in the way. So my selections are mainly based on behaviour in the stalls and parade ring. Boom Time was the first horse I crossed out, because he was kicking in his stall. In hindsight he was obviously keen to go! My final six in order were Marmelo, Amelies Star, Abbey Marie, Ventura Storm, Harlem and Inference.

My place bet was on Marmelo who was alert and relaxed in his stall and came home like a train when it was all over. None of my selections finished in the first four!  Single Gaze was not looking anywhere but flaring her nostrils and showing teeth and Johannes Vermeer and Lord Fandango had the dreaded cross-over noseband. A wipeout! At least I Got a bit back on Gai’s Global Glamour. Now there’s some alliteration!


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Caulfield Guineas

October 14th, 2017

A boilover! The flashy blonde chestnut with the Trigger good looks gets up to beat the blueblood Kementari. How did it start at 100/1? There was a lot of moaning so obviously not many folk bet on flashy appearances. I wasn’t too fussed as I backed the Godolphin horse for the place at $2.20. The last boilover I can remember was Marwong in 1987 winning at 50/1 on protest from Our Poetic Prince, despite the margin of a length and the Prince being eased down.

Had a look at some of the imports out the back. They get special attention with the wood shavings as well as straw in the stall. It must be what they are used to back home. Riven Light had the ear plugs, Johannes Vermeer was probably the most relaxed and ran a slashing second, and The Taj Mahal seemed pretty solid and impassive.

The best horse I saw all day was Invincible Star which streeted them in the three-year-old fillies and paid $2.90 for the place, but I gave some back on Comin’ Through in the Toorak Handicap. Two out of three for the day is quite fine for the first day of the spring carnival.


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Turnbull Stakes

October 7th, 2017

There are 20,822 people here to see Winx, but I’m not one of them. I’m here for the first two-year-old of the season. There are two very nice looking horses, Nomothaj and Sunlight, but I have a preference for Nomothaj with her head in towards the strapper, whereas the strapper uses two hands on Sunlight. I was pretty pleased with $1.80 first up for nearly five months!

But I did have a look at Winx. And you would have to say the horse is fit, with good lines and not a spare ounce of fat. Even some dapples, if you fancy coat condition. Why do folk get so excited? It’s not as if the horse is backable.

And the island bar is coming on. But what a disaster is looming in a few weeks time. I had enough trouble making my way from the stalls to the yard with twenty thousand. It’s going to be five times as hard on Cup day.



Postcard from Flemington

July 22nd, 2017

Here it is, the middle of winter, and I’m back at Flemington. I’m spelling, so it will be a brief visit. I’m not here to bet, but to “Meet the Makers” and find out more about the replacement of my racing home, the Island Bar. It will be on the first floor of the new stand with views over the mounting yard. I tried to scribble down some of the words the architect Kristen Whittle used to describe the interior: “traditional tonality and attitude”, “high end interior” with “memorabilia and signage”, a “warm and muted palette” and a “heroic backdrop”. I asked Kristen afterwards if the bar will be an island, but it is joined to a service area, so I guess it is an island with a causeway. One punter asked if the mounting yard will be moved, so that made me sit up and take notice. Amanda, our chairman, replied that the mounting yard will be extended back to the opening of the tunnel! Gosh! That’s a big move. I suggested to Amanda that the plans should be put up on the internet, so you never know, that may happen.

As I was leaving the two-year-olds were coming into the mounting yard for the third race, so I had a brief look from the second floor. The favourite Anchor Bid looked a bit short at $1.05 the place, but from the distance I could see nothing wrong with number 2, Justice Faith. I only had $100 in my wallet, but could not complain when it ran home for second at $2.20. Don’t you hate it when they pay more at fixed odds and you haven’t bothered to get your phone out? At least my eye is still working!

But my eye doesn’t like what it sees though! How are we going to survive the spring!


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Flemington National Hall of Fame Raceday

May 20th, 2017

Well, I went along, mainly to find out more about the bane of my life, the building site, also known as Flemington. The club was hosting a “Meet the Makers” event, where the architects responsible for the new stand report on progress to date and give us a squiz at some of the interiors of the ground floor. The interiors look very grand and plush and I do like them. It’s the exterior that worries me. The shape of the building is not my cup of tea and looks to me like a birthday cake, or one of those multi-decked Italian cruise ships. I talked to Kristen the architect after the meeting to ask about the three flying saucers that seem to have landed on the roof. They are really just decorative and the inspiration for them was that common fashion accessory– the fascinator! So there you have it. You will be able to spy the stand from a distance by its pieces of feminine frippery on top.

I’m off now for my winter break. There will be another “Meet the Makers” in July when we find out more about the replacement for the Island Bar, so maybe I’ll go along to that. Keep your eye out for a postcard. Otherwise, I hope to be back for the Guineas in the spring.


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Caulfield Race Day

May 13th, 2017

I don’t pay much attention to coat condition, well, none really. After all there are so many factors that could affect it, including day length, ambient temperature, brushing, the use of unguents, and of course health. I have seen too many horses with glossy coats go under. But today, here is the favourite in the fifth, Kenjorwood, with a pretty dodgy coat. You would call it dull, with the winter coat starting to come through on the unders. What’s more his ears are back and he does a bright green sloppy poo right in front of me. Looks like lots of lucerne in the feed bin! You’d have to say a place lay at $1.53.

The horse laboured into eighth and was reported as pulling up lame in both front legs. A pity I don’t pay more attention to coat condition.



Flemington Race Day

May 6th, 2017

Another no show. My attendance record is starting to slip, but I’ve got plenty of excuses. The forecast was dismal. Wind, showers, hail and snow flurries on the hills. And Flemington is no longer agreeable for horsewatching with no mounting yard access from a demolished Members Stand, and no bookies ring. And besides, I’ve got a heavy duty cold which has dived down into my lungs and I don’t want to end up like Bert Newton in Epworth Emergency with a lung infection. So I’ll sit it out. Didn’t even watch it on TV.