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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.



Caulfield Race Day

April 29th, 2017

No show, I’m afraid. I’m stuck up on the roof of my place with a serious roof plumbing emergency. But the internet is amazing and I’m always keen to check out a short priced favourite in a two-year-old race. How often do they fall in a heap? So I can see the mounting yard parade on my iPhone on and Doubt I’m Dreaming, the odds-on favourite, seems relaxed enough, although munching on the bit with an exaggerated open mouth. Going to the gate he seems to lose the plot and fights against the jockey. Normally I would require two faults to oppose a horse so resisting the jockey on its own is probably not enough. So I just watch the horse flounder into third place. Besides, how ridiculous is it to lay a horse on your roof? So I would have lost anyway, as I lay them for the place, and $1.16 would have been pretty irresistible! It’s not often a leaky roof can save your bacon!



Caulfield Easter Cup

April 15th, 2017

Every now and then you have one of those good days. And so it was. It didn’t start out too well when I missed Miss Vista’s race, mainly because I was attending to my complaining stomach, but also because of the huge field size. The striking cult horse with the albinism and walleye won in a breeze, well, just held on. I managed to catch up with her after the race. In the next there was plenty to like about Plenty To Like, with the tongue tie, positive strapper, ear flicking and snorting. Plenty to like about the place dividend of $4.60 too. No need to worry about dead-heating for first! In the fifth it all came undone with Moonlover, prancing, head in to a positive strapper, but an overweight jockey. The horse simply didn’t run on and I did my dough. Boom Time in the next looked terrific, but was too short for me at $1.60 and won as it liked. Arch Fire in this race was listed in the gear changes as having “synthetic hoof filler”. This must be a first so I photographed the horse’s feet and I guess it must be the front hooves as the colour of the wall is different!

In the Victoria Handicap Hooked looked a standout with tongue tie, salivating and head in to the strapper. I was very pleased with $2.25 fixed on the tote for the place. And in the Easter Cup I narrowed it down to High Church and Second Bullet. I really wanted to lay the favourite Grey Lion but my Betfair app had frozen so I backed the Bullet instead. Grey Lion was roaring in the parade ring, giving the two strappers a hard time who were tug, tug, tugging, and was sweating up remarkably on a cold day. Did I mention the dump? A lay that got away when it finished last. Still $3 for the Bullet was OK. And in the last race I wasn’t betting but determined to get a photo of the horse that finished last. I pretty much failed but this has to be a trivia question for the future. Name the horse that Greg Miles called last in his last race call. If you look up the results you will see it is Authoritarian. In my poor photo the horse Greg named is covering up Authoritarian on the inside. Three out of four for one of those good, good days.



Caulfield Race Day

April 8th, 2017

Not much to report with all the action in Sydney. I planned to watch two races, the first and last. The first was the two-year-old with only six runners, but the place dividends are often very good. The favourite Plutocracy was a muscular, loose-walking colt with no faults, so I couldn’t lay him and I couldn’t back him at $1.40. So I prepared myself for the long wait till the mares at 5.30 pm.

Caulfield 4.04 pm

Caulfield 4.04 pm

At 4 pm the storm clouds rolled in and racing was suspended. I gave up at 4.30 with time running out and darkness approaching. The last three races were eventually abandoned. That Sydney horse is pretty good!


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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!