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Flemington Autumn Raceday

March 18th, 2017

I missed the mares but had a good look at the two-year-old fillies. Number 3 Ploverset looked the goods down the back and TAB man in charge of the betting caravan kindly gave me a tutorial on how to place a bet on a machine. I’ve never used one before since I much prefer using my iPhone or handing my cash over to a real human being. But it’s probably better than betting with a tote lady as you can toggle between the tote odds and the fixed odds. Ploverset was showing $2.34 fixed for the place. But I didn’t press the bet button for $250 as I still needed to see the horses in the yard. In the end I crossed them all out and didn’t have a bet. Ploverset got up for third and I got a hard time from my tutor for not pressing that button!

Only six runners in the Blamey Stakes. I narrow it down to two – Palentino and Sir Isaac Newton. Palentino has the earmuffs (now +12%) and the two strappers (+28%) and is sweating freely. Hey, wait a minute. Those earmuffs belong to CJ Waller! Has Weiry run out of gear? I guess if you bring ten horses to the races you can’t remember everything and may have to go scrounging! The famous mathematician/physicist/astronomer also has the two strappers, is salivating (+19%), sweating, and has that indefinable something – presence. I decide to back him. Sir Isaac misses the jump by two lengths and then charges to the lead as previously notified. Nobody notified me that they were going to crucify him in front! Palentino was strong to the line and the scientist wilted. The horsewatcher wilted too.

Not much else to report. Big Effort had a Hanoverian noseband, which is similar to a conventional cross-over noseband but with a heavier duty padded nosepiece. Its function is till the same – to keep the horse’s mouth shut. As you know, I’m not a fan. The horse finished last!



The Australian Cup

March 11th, 2017

The favourite for the cup is Humidor – what a great name for a horse. Break out the cigars! The former Kiwi horse has been described in the press as “quirky” and with poor pre-race behaviour. I’ll have to have a close look. I have no trouble finding how to get from the stalls to the mounting yard as the club has kindly painted some white lines on the lawn to show me the way. The green brick road? But you have to run to avoid being stranded on the wrong side of the laneway out onto the track. I make it in time but since there is now only half the mounting yard fence available for horsewatchers I’m stuck three deep. Humidor is jig-jogging around but not changing his stride. You could call it prancing (+73%), but his head is not properly arched, so I’d call it quirky prancing. He has the ear muffs on to control his quirkiness (+8% in the book, now showing +12%). I like ear muffs. There are two strappers (+28%), he’s snorting (+21%), but his neck is a bit twisted (-1%). I tried to do a video but it was too hard being three deep. The clerk (-11%) takes the horse onto the track early (-6%), to avoid problems I suppose.

So a bet on quirkiness. $1.80 for the place is a borderline bet for me, but not too bad. The horse was last on the turn, but came home smoking!



The Australian Guineas

March 4th, 2017

My first day back at Flemington since the spring. There seem to have been a few changes. The gate I normally walk through to get to the mounting yard has been replaced with a quite formidable black barrier with heavy duty padlock and chain. It seems pretty clear that I am not welcome unless I’ve got a hard hard hat and high vis vest. In fact, it’s quite explicit “KEEP OUT!”. To get to the mounting yard from the parade ring I have to detour around the black barrier, past the rails bookmakers who are now standing in no-man’s land with no customers, duck through under the Hill Stand, and emerge at a tiny area alongside the mounting yard reserved for members. What a disaster! And look. Where has my refuge, the Island Bar, gone! I reckon it used to be where that monster Delta digger is resting. And where will I get my iced water? Apparently the new stand won’t be ready till 2018. It’s going to be chaos in the spring. Can the rails bookies sue the club for lack of business?

It took me a few races and a couple of losers to sort things out. Chaos Ball looked good in the two-year-old but played up in the barrier and was pulled out and inspected by the vet. I would have scratched the horse but of course the vet let it run and my bet was history. Chaos Ball finished last. And I quite liked Sadaqa in the sixth but the horse did nothing. I finally worked out that the easiest way to get from the stalls to the yard was straight up the public lawn. The only problem was that you have to wait at the gate till all the horses, stewards and sundry officials have gone onto the track. But I found the iced water at last hidden in the undercroft.

Hey Doc looked the goods in the Guineas with its head in towards a positive strapper. The $1.80 gave me some back and I came home like a train with Cadillac Mountain, quietly flipping its lip, and paying $3.30 for the place. I’m not sure what lip flipping is about and whether it is a stereotypy but it is certainly a positive (17% in the book) and the horse must be comfortable with the bit in order to do it. So, I finished with two out of four for the day, grumpy, and not looking forward to racing at Flemington.



The Blue Diamond

February 25th, 2017

My first day back after an extended break, so I’m feeling pretty rusty and not planning any betting heroics. Just going to ease back into it. I arrive late on the track but in time for the third race and straight away I’m confronted with a problem. Gai’s horse Farson looks an absolute standout but is showing $2.20 for the win and $1.20 for the place. Should I break my rules and back it to win? Common sense soon returns and I remember that I am rusty and just easing back into it. Settle Geoffrey, settle. Just watch! Farson wins with one leg in the air. The Blue Diamond was too hard and Extreme Choice looked good in the Oakleigh Plate, but I was saving myself for the last race, the mares. Another problem. Two standouts, is that a contradiction? Miss Rose De Lago and Silent Sedition. Miss Rose is perfect with head in to the strapper and Silent Sedition has the ear muffs, two strappers and is quietly snorting. Which one to back? The problem is solved for me by the prices with Silent Sedition showing $1.30 and Miss Rose $2.10 for the place. I wasn’t entirely comfortable backing Miss Rose. She is a big and bulky mare that has trouble finding that little bit of acceleration over the final 100 metres. But that price is good. Silent Sedition led from pillar to post and Miss Rose ran on quite well to just hang on by a nostril for third. I was happy with the $2.20 payout and pleased to be back in business. Home and my thigh muscle went into a spasm and cramped up. I was in agony after all that walking. The rust obviously needs more oil!




The Zipping Classic

November 12th, 2016

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 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 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!



Stakes Day

November 5th, 2016

I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many 15-year-old girls in the same place at the same time. They are posturing around in groups of three, four or five. It must be schoolies week! Haven’t they got any homework? Shouldn’t they be studying for their exams? It’s family day, but where are their parents?

I thought Loyalty Man looked the goods in the fifth, but the jock should be sent to the sin bin for the rest of the spring, and Vadamos looked a good thing in his ear muffs in the Mackinnon, but he pulled too hard in the run. And Spieth looked stunning in the yard, no faults, and was just nosed out in the Darley Classic, but still returned a respectable $3.00 for the place. A disappointing losing day after the highs of Oaks day.

And now that the carnival is over –  the best tatt prize goes to ……




The Oaks

November 3rd, 2016

I started off slowly enjoying the perfect weather and the ambience down the back and let the first two pass by, and then brushed off the cobwebs with Onerous in the third at $2.40. Mihany was a standout in the fourth at $2.80, and I couldn’t resist Rockstar Rebel at $2.00 in the fifth. I’m starting to think I’m on a roll when Federal flops in at $1.70 (what happened to that $1.90?) in the sixth, and then with Redzel in the seventh at $1.80 suddenly I’ve equalled my PB. Five out of five! It’s all down to the Oaks! Can I score an all time PB! I couldn’t fault the fave at $1.60, but I didn’t like the price so I went for second best with Sebring Dream. All good things come to an end! Lasqueti Spirit. A 120/1 winner! You couldn’t have it after went beserk in the mounting yard! But what a day for horsewatchers. One out of the box!



The Melbourne Cup

November 1st, 2016

I spent most of the time down the back checking out Cup horses in the stalls. Almandin was asleep, Heartbreak City and Hartnell interested, Big Orange was British to the bootstraps, Almoonqith was yawning, and Wicklow Brave had the ear plugs. My final six for the trifecta were Big Orange, Hartnell, Wicklow Brave, Almoonqith, Heartbreak City and Oceanographer. When I got to the yard I noticed Heartbreak City with its head up so I crossed it out and put Almandin in instead. Oh well!

Wicklow Brave was slaughtered by Frankie, who probably has the wrong temperament for a Melbourne Cup, Oceanographer didn’t back up, and no excuses for the others.





Derby Day

October 29th, 2016

The greatest day of racing on earth! I am not a fan of three-year-old colts, but Sacred Elixir looked an absolute standout! I broke all the rules and took it (yes, a gelding no less!) at $1.50 for the place. The Cummings’ horse, Prized Icon, was simply too good. It’s nice to know that the family secrets have been passed down to James, but you would have to be a bit worried now that Reg Fleming has defected to the Godolphin camp. Could this be the year that they finally crack it in The Cup?

Derby Day is all black and white. And isn’t it amazing that the youth of today have embraced the tradition. All the young ones, on whom youth is wasted, rocked up in black and white. How good is that! I took a few snaps. There’s that probing journalist and master raconteur, Neil Kearney, hard at work out the back, and there’s the Members Stand. Oh no, it is about to be demolished! Where will I go when the Island Bar is no more? Life has so many uncertainties!




Cox Plate

October 23rd, 2016

Here’s the parade ring 25 minutes before the jump. Where are the horses? Maybe they’ve cancelled the Cox Plate? I’m not too fussed as it’s not much of a betting race with Winx at $1.20 the place. Winx looks perfect and Hartnell has the cross-over noseband and is salivating furiously. Both horses parade in ear muffs but rip them off for the race. The rest is history. I was nearly tempted to have a go at a place on Yankee Rose until she had a bit of a head spasm with the jockey up.

I left the track promptly at 5.05 pm in a quite agreeable frame of mind. In fact, I wasn’t cursing the club’s scheduling of the race or the lousy weather. I was pondering my good fortune with two placed horses in the three-year-old fillies races, Prompt Response and I Am A Star. Not too bad for a rotten day!



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