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Flemington Living Legends Raceday

May 5th, 2018

My penultimate raceday for the season. And there is some good news from Flemington for horsewatchers. The mounting yard has been extended by 10 metres which will be an enormous improvement for the spring. Twenty four horses didn’t fit in a single parade line and so they were broken up into an inner and outer circle for the Cup. It made life extremely difficult for watchers. I took a snap of my new improved viewing spot!

Not much to report. The best horse I saw all day was Land Of Plenty who won with ease but was way too short at $1.20. In the same race Pilote D’Essai was bucking furiously down the back but then after spending a lot of energy turned into a head down horse! But his race was run and the horse finished fifth. Another stat for four feet on the ground! And Our Gladiator was a bucking bronco before the fifth race and faded to finish near the tail. So that’s two stats! In the end I didn’t have a bet all day, mainly because I didn’t see the horse I was looking for, but possibly because I sense a lack of motivation creeping in with my season winding down.



Caulfield Thoroughbred Cup Day

April 28th, 2018

Large fields make it hard to see them all and William Thomas was probably the best horse I saw all day although too short at $1.40. It won like a good thing. In the two-year-old I liked Fighting Harada, who looked keen and ready to go, salivating and chewing on the bit, head in to the strapper. The horse had the gun barrier, the number one slot, and just had to jump and run and win. Fighting Harada was slow to begin. The boxer I remember wasn’t a slow beginner, he came out punching! What’s wrong with that jockey? Didn’t he know that he had to boot it up out of the gate? And then the horse was booted up at the 800, when it was all too late, and had to be checked off heels! Fighting Harada made a last gasp surge at the post and I was convinced it had grabbed third but in fact had missed by a head. Very disappointing! I was spitting chips. That horse was ready to win! I should have ridden it myself!

In the eighth race I fined it down to two horses, Notio and Eclair Calling. Notio was the classic horsewatcher’s horse, totally relaxed, fit, lobbing around the yard with its head down. Eclair Calling by contrast was a horse that held its head high but in towards the strapper. The horse wasn’t changing gait and wasn’t unsettled. Imperious, dominant, I thought. As a bonus it was trained by Phillip Stokes who doesn’t bring his horses over from Adelaide for fun. And what’s more I noted in my race book that it was a dual acceptor but scratched in Adelaide. Eclair Calling was $2.60 and Notio $1.80. An easy decision in the end. Go for the odds. They finished second and third so that helped to ease my earlier disappointment! One out of two. A good day. Getting cold though.


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Caulfield Owners and Breeders Raceday

April 21st, 2018

Frustration! I fired up Betfair to lay Widgee Turf in the second and I think I must have accidentally pressed the back arrow, which is a definite no-no on Betfair, and the screen froze. Well, I’ve been in this situation before and the key is simply not to panic. So calmly and methodically I powered the phone off and then displaying a remarkable cool resolve I managed to remember my pin and after a long period of looking at a black screen with a white Apple the phone jumped into life again. But of course by then it was too late!

A race or two later I was all set to have a back bet and I fired up the TAB app. But I didn’t login. I was all set to submit the bet when it refused my fingerprint and said my account was locked. Maybe it was something to do with previously powering the phone off? Anyway, you can simply unlock your account by entering your date of birth and mother’s maiden name. Well, how easy is that? Impossible, for me, it seems. After two attempts I gave up. I have to ring Customer Service for more information. So I didn’t have a bet all day. Keen Array, relaxed and head down, looked pretty good powering home for a place at $2.30, but I watched it go around.

I rang Rita at Customer Service when I got home and she fixed me up. It seems that all my pins and passwords were out of date since moving house some four years ago. I’ve double-checked my mother’s maiden name and my fingerprint and neither seems to have changed. But I think I need one of those new iPhones that you unlock just by looking at it! Facial recognition, that’ll be the go!


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Caulfield Race Day

April 14th, 2018

My betting opportunities seem to have been limited lately. I suppose it is a self-imposed exile. After all, I don’t do nights at Money Valley, and Flemington is a nightmare with the building site for the new members stand. And I refuse to do midweeks at Sandown until the level crossings are fixed up and the replacement buses are replaced with trains. That just leaves Caulfield. So I was quite keen to get there early in time for the two-year-olds, but the weather forecast was for Armageddon. The front was not expected to pass through until early afternoon so I was hopeful the babies could get a dry run.

A pleasant surprise awaited me on arrival. The tote screens have been updated and now display both fixed and tote odds for the win and place. That’s a huge plus for me as I can now compare them easily without constantly refreshing my iPhone and then decide if I’ll do a cash bet on the tote or a fixed on my phone. There is still something about collecting cash that stirs the heart much more than a change in your account balance!

It was still cold and dry when the babies appeared in the yard but the wind was gale force and threatened to blow them off the track. A quick scan of the field revealed a lot of horses resisting the jockey and only one horse that seemed impervious to the weather, Ocean Knight. Alert, interested and calm. I positioned myself next to a new screen and watched the fixed place odds blow from $1.85 to $2.55. Hasn’t anyone seen this horse? Ocean Knight jumped away slowly near the rear but blitzed them in the straight to win going away. Could be a good horse.

The change of season was sudden and dramatic when it finally arrived. The horses were in the yard for the second but were suddenly obliterated by wind, horizontal rain and hail. The race was delayed as they were sent back to the stalls and the track downgraded to Soft 5. It was still too wet to venture out for the third, but from a distance Savacool looked the goods. But no bet. The track was downgraded further to a Soft 6. That was my cue and I gave up the battle with the weather. Happy with one out of one. Home in time to see that good horse win in Sydney.

Hard to believe it was a balmy 26 degrees on Friday. The best comment I heard all week was that it won’t be 26 again until September!


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April 7th, 2018

Bendigo? A bridge too far! And now up to day 38 since the cantaloupe scare and no signs of listeria or mental feebleness!



Flemington Autumn Raceday

March 17th, 2018

I like my horses to keep four feet on the ground. Out the back today the three-year-old gelding Holbien was bucking his brands off. But oddly enough, bucking is now a slightly positive variable in WMR. I remarked in the book: “obviously strong-willed horses that are bucking their brands off will go out and win races, but they are risky propositions, and you can be assured that I will not bet on them”.

So I followed my own advice and of course Holbien romped in at $1.90 the place. Three-year-old male horses continue to be my bête noire. Maybe it’s time to revise my opinion?



Flemington Australian Cup

March 10th, 2018

Did you see where four people have died from eating cantaloupes contaminated by Listeria monocytogenes? Victorians have been urged by the Health Department to throw out any cantaloupes purchased between the start of January and 1 March. What should I do? I have already consumed at least four cantaloupes in that time. The symptoms of listeriosis are flu-like with fever and muscle aches, but it can take up to 60 days to develop. Those most at risk are pregnant women, people with a compromised immune system, and the elderly. There is a danger of pneumonia, endocarditis and meningitis! So here I am, an elderly person, with aching muscles, and living on tenterhooks for the next 50 days!

In trepidation I head off to Flemington and when I get to the end of my street I suddenly realise I’ve left my parking sticker behind. A quick U-turn, but it means I miss the second race. I scan my members’ card at the turnstiles and mosey over to the race book stand. I have the $6 in coins ready in my hand but the nice lass advises me that the apparent $2 coin in my hand is in fact a 5 cent piece! Oh dear, I really am losing it! A quick look at some horse stalls and then into the Members Lawn, the fastest route to the mounting yard. But I am apprehended. “Where is your ticket, sir?” It’s always on my belt, but is nowhere to be seen. I’ve lost it in my first 10 minutes at track! The gate people let me through regardless because I’m such a regular customer but then I have to head off to the raceday office to report my loss. I reckon that is three marbles that have gone missing today! I’m not ready to bet until the fourth race, the Sires’ Produce Stakes for two-year-olds. Not A Single Cent looked fabulous with a positive strapper and paid a nice $3.30 for the place.

Out the back before the main race, the Australian Cup. Hartnell was fine except for the cross-over noseband. Almandin was playing up in his stall and calling out. He was pulled out every now and then and circled back in, until finally two strappers just pressed him against the back wall with all their weight. Ambitious was letting his old fella hang out. Gailo Chop was perfect. I rushed up to the yard to catch the rest of the field. Ventura Storm seemed OK, but I didn’t get a good look. And the eventual winner Harlem was fine, head down with two strappers. Gailo Chop was the one for me, but at $1.50 I watched them go around. The Taj Mahal probably brought him undone.

Only the one bet all day, mainly because I spent most of the time trying to get my confidence back and looking for those lost marbles. I asked my apprentice what was wrong with me and he suggested that I’m just getting old. Forgetfulness! I prefer to think that I must have eaten some dodgy cantaloupes!



Caulfield Blue Diamond Stakes

February 24th, 2018

The Blue Diamond is always a lottery, but worth having a go at because the place dividends are so good. I saw them all in the parade ring with the mounting yard being too hard and three deep! Long Leaf had the winkers and twisted neck, Written By was gaping, dumping, shitty behind, and stallion chain, Run Naan was calling out and head up, Prairie Fire was swishing, Encryption a clean sheet, Plague Stone cross-over noseband, Grand Symphony two strappers, gaping, teeth and dumping, Enbihaar clean sheet, Kinky Boom nose roll, two strappers and stallion chain, Lady Horseowner gaping and twisted neck, Ennis Hill dumping, two strappers and grabbed by the clerk, Crossing The Abbey two hands, head up, ear muffs, and illegible comment, Qafila twisted neck, two strappers, Oohood head down, earmuffs, winkers two strappers, two hands, flared nostrils?, Aristocrastic Miss two strappers, changing gait, resisting the jockey, More Than Exceed two hands.

Although dumping and shitty behind are positive variables I take a negative attitude to them in two-year-old races so I ruled out the favourite. My selection was Encryption ahead of Enbihaar. Both clean sheets. I pulled the wrong rein. There was a moment there when it looked like Encryption would surge into third but he died on his run. Enbihaar, at $7.50 for the place, should have been the one!

The best horse I saw all day was Gailo Chop, too short at $1.30.



Flemington Black Caviar Lightning Stakes

February 17th, 2018

Redzel, the best horse I saw in the spring, looked a standout, lobbing around the yard with his head down. But too short at $1.20 for the place. Terravista looked impressive, a huge hindquarter, and munching on the bit, but kicking out the back; Hey Doc, twisting his neck into the strapper, grabbed by the clerk; Redkirk Warrior, the fittest horse in the yard, two strappers, salivating, and head up; Miss Rock, chewing and two strappers; Formality a clean sheet, but a stallion chain. I was briefly tempted by Miss Rock, but eventually decided it was too hard.

Dr Andrew Clarke, the CEO of Living Legends, the rest home for champion racehorses, had a string of ten horses at the track today! That’s nearly as many as Hayes and Weir, who were struggling to muster a dozen each! I missed them in the mounting yard, but caught them out the back. And there were a few good ones – Brew, Bullish Luck, Efficient, Good Ba Ba (who won $ 9million in Hong Kong!), Malucky Day, Might And Power, Paris Lane, Prince of Penzance, Rogan Josh, and  Silent Witness. Wow! What a parade!


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Caulfield Orr Stakes Day

February 10th, 2018

Not much to report although I did see a couple of unusual things. The two-year-old colt The Running Man was listed as wearing tendon boots which I can’t recall seeing on a flat horse before. And the three-year-old colt Weapon was showing stringhalt, that exaggerated flexion of a hindleg.

The cause of this unusual gait is largely unknown although there are said to be two varieties, one a neurological disorder, and the other a nutritional problem, named ‘Australian stringhalt’, and the result of grazing on poor pastures. Whatever. I like my horses to be normal!