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Caulfield All-Star Mile

March 16th, 2024

I’m keen to check out the new subterranean day stalls and parade ring. It’s all very swish, Hollywood even, with four ginormous date palms in the middle of the ring. The stalls themselves are most excellent with an LED screen showing the name of the horse. And a lift to the lower ground level means I can avoid the stairs. I’m only interested in the three fancied horses, Brightside, Cascadian and Pride of Jenni. Mr Brightside looks as good as usual, Jenni is almost asleep which is most unusual and Cascadian looks dominant. And of course they filled the first three placings with the cream rising to the top. I took the ridiculous place odds of $1.32 on Brightside.


I thought the new mounting yard was a disaster. A long way from the winning post, and both members and public had no access to the mounting yard rail at ground level. There was a huge expanse of concrete reserved for owners and which I am told can accommodate 900 owners! And the yard itself is on a slope which is a worry when assessing the gait of horses going down hill. Not happy Jan.


The Melbourne Cup

November 7th, 2023

In the olden days I would take up a position on the mounting yard rail at least an hour before the race and then pick my best six to box up in a trifecta. I had occasional success. These days I’m struggling to walk too far and eight to ten thousand steps is the most I can manage. So now I confine myself to the horse stalls and parade ring with occasional forays up to the yard. And I’m taking seven in the trifecta. The best is of course Gold Trip who I find I have previously backed five times for the place at odds ranging from $2.10 to $6.00. That horse owes me nothing! The fittest horse is Without A Fight without a doubt, with magnificent poverty lines and once again asleep in the stall with a positive strapper. The Irish horses look good with the favourite Vauban looking interested with ears pricked and Absurde with a loving French strapper showering it with kisses. Soulcombe rounds out the top five, so I’m on the lookout for two roughies. I take Ashrun and Future History. An hour or so later I check the Maher/Eustace horses again and Future History is nodding. I put the pen through him straight away since I dislike stereotyped behaviour in the tie-ups. So there is room for one more roughie. I can’t have Sheraz as I have a negative attitude towards the horse after backing him when he let me down in the Bart Cummings a month or so ago. So I settle on Kalapour.

Without A Fight streets them with Soulcombe and Sheraz running on for the trifecta and Ashrun in fourth place. The trifecta paid $10,688 and the first four $332,291. I’m thinking next year I might take eight.


Cox Plate

October 28th, 2023

I was three out of three going into the plate with Bold Bastille, Thalassophile and Skybird all stand outs. The best of them was Thalassophile showing $1.75 for the place on the world pool in a seven-horse field. But can you believe that I backed it at $2.90 fixed on the tote! It reminded me of one those old Monopoly Chance cards – “Bank Error in Your Favour”.

Romantic Warrior, the short-priced favourite from Hong Kong, is all the rage but not my sort of horse at $1.35 for the place on the world pool. In the stalls he is beautiful, with his affable trainer Danny Shum all over him like a rash, hanging on his neck, cuddling him, kissing him. Quite clearly there is a romance going on here! But in the yard the horse’s head is very unsettled. Maybe he’s trying to shake off all those kisses. The best paraders are Gold Trip and Fangirl. But Gold Trip will drop out to last which is a difficult position to be in on the tight track so I go for Fangirl. You can imagine how disappointed I was in the running to see the mare back at the rear  with Gold Trip. Like everyone else I thought Mr Brightside had won, but the Hong Kong star had prevailed by a nostril.


Caulfield Cup

October 21st, 2023

So I need seven for a tilt at the trifecta. First cab off the rank, as usual, is Gold Trip, looking as good as ever, and my place bet. The favourite West Wind Blows is out of his stall walking and when I finally catch up with him he looks big, strong, outstanding. Without A Fight is half asleep in the tie-ups, always nice to see. If you add in Soulcombe, which I did, you probably only needed to box four for the trifecta. But I also liked Hoo Ya Mal who was much bigger and stronger than last year and the lightweights Spirit Ridge and Valiant King, to round it out. The fancied horses filled the placings, apart from Soulcombe, who missed the jump. At least the dividend of $297.10 covered my expenses.

And how good is Gold Trip? Paying a generous $2.70 for the place on the world tote pool.


Caulfield Guineas

October 14th, 2023

I’ve been in training for a couple of months now. Averaging 7000 steps a day and even betting on mounting yard behaviour on the TV. And at last the time has come, the first day of the Spring Carnival. I’m here early for the first race, but I’m feeling very unstable and wobbly. There is a big crowd in the medallion bar and as I push through and bump into people I feel as if I’m about to fall over. Time to sit down and take stock. I reach into my pocket for my emergency supply of levodopa. This drug is converted into dopamine, the neurotransmitter which is missing from my brain, and by the fifth race I’m ready to enter the fray.

It’s an interesting race with eight runners and two short-priced favourites, Uncommon James and Asfoora, both showing about $1.10 the place. But I like the grey Chain Of Lightning, despite the Moody nose roll, and there are only six horses vying for the third spot. The horse is head-in to the strapper and accepting of the bit. It is a race in two, as the market predicted, with the two favourites streaking away, and a gap to the grey in third place. I was quite happy with $1.80 for the place with a 1.1 multiplier.

In the Guineas the Sydney horse Militarize is out early into the parade ring and has the place all to himself for a good five minutes or so. Wow! Fit! Look at those poverty lines! And relaxed too. No need to look at any more. I try to photograph the lines but fail miserably.

The horse misses the jump and runs on for fifth when it is all over. So much for overseas jockeys! I stay for the last, despite hitting 8000 steps, to check out a couple of my favourites, Pounding, Corner Pocket and Amelia’s Jewel, but it is a large field in a wide open race. And just too hard. So one out of two for the day, just exercising my money. At least it’s a start. Come on spring!


Flemington Andrew Ramsden Stakes

May 13th, 2023

Another golden ticket into The Cup up for grabs. Gai already has one with Goldman’s win in the Roy Higgins, and now she is after a second with the hot favourite White Marlin. I scored the horse as head in, chewing on the bit, and slightly salivating. I know it had two strappers, but I thought the second strapper was just decorative and not really required. The winner Lunar Flare looked great, with the red muffs and bubble cheeker, but had the cross-over noseband and was twisting its neck. I crossed out Hasta La War in the parade ring as it was a head up horse with a fast gait and was calling out. I took the $1.50 for the place on the favourite, well below my normal limit!


White Marlin set a hot pace, which was too hot, and paid the price when Lunar Flare charged home to win the ticket. Bring on spring!

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Sandown Blue Diamond Stakes Day

February 25th, 2023

I’m only here to check out the Cup winner Gold Trip. And wow! Look at that! The horse is doing the flehmen response, or flehmening, if you like. Flehmen is a German word meaning to bare the upper teeth. The behaviour involves curling back the upper lip exposing the teeth and inhaling with the nostrils closed. This facilitates the transfer of scents, via ducts behind the teeth, to the vomeronasal organ located above the roof of the mouth. The behaviour is slightly positive (+4 in Watching More Racehorses) which has always surprised me since it is involved in the detection of horses in heat and you would think that the horse is clearly distracted.

Gold Trip flehmen

Gold Trip ran a slasher of a race first up and powered home from second last for second at $2.10 the place. I was more than happy with that – it made the long trek out to Sandown well worthwhile!

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The Melbourne Cup

November 1st, 2022

It’s cold and wet. So cold and wet that I have to break out the heavy duty winter coat and beanie! I need six for my trifecta. First cab off the rank is Young Werther, still kicking and pawing in his stall as he was before the Turnbull. Vow and Declare looks fine, but has had his chance. The favourite Deauville Legend looks good, relaxed, with a lot of folk fussing around him. Ciaron Maher has five runners, but they are all muddled up in the wrong stalls. Gold Trip is easy to pick out. Imperious, dominant. Smokin’ Romans is still weaving. High Emocean is relaxed. Gai’s horse Knights Order is beautiful, relaxed, licking and lolling. The Chinese pony Hoo Ya Mal looks out of place with the big boys. Serpentine is parading with his head up and showing teeth and Emissary is nice and relaxed. I don’t like Duais with a smoking strapper and Montefilia is fit and parading head down, but with two strappers. Realm Of Flowers is in. So I have five – Gold Trip, Knights Order, Montefilia, Deauville Legend and Realm Of Flowers. Half an hour left and I need one more. I go and have another look at Emissary. Still looks fine. High Emocean walks past, head in, looking great. Number six.

Time to bet. First the trifecta, then the place bet on the favourite, a class above them. It is showing $3.50 on the tote but only $2.00 with the books. Why is that? Hmmm. I decide to split my bet. Half on the fave with a 1.10 multiplier and half on Gold Trip at $6.00 fixed.

They come thundering down the straight. For a moment there it looked like all three bets would get up, but Emissary spoiled the party. A good day, but I should’ve gone seven in the trifecta.


Cox Plate

October 22nd, 2022

I’m up at 7, woken by the rain, full of doubt. It’s been pouring all night. I live just a couple of drop kicks from the Valley and there’s 33 mm in my rain gauge. A heavy track! I don’t bet on the heavy. I’ve pretty much decided not to go. It starts clearing by 11 and I’m in two minds. By the time they jump in the first I’ve decided it’s better to get out of the house than sit around moping. I used to catch the tram or walk but today I’ll drive. There’s a long queue of cars and it takes me 25 minutes to get into the centre car park. The parking attendant directs me to a spot a mile from the tunnel so I ask if there’s anything a bit closer now that I’m a disabled person. I’m put in a huge puddle next to a BMW. I hope there are a lot of lads around to push me out later!

I narrow the race down to two horses, Gold Trip and El Bodegon. Gold Trip is relaxed, but not quite as imperious as last week and El Bodegon is pawing extravagantly in his stall. There’s nothing wrong with the hot pot Anamoe except the $1.30 the place. I’m Thunderstruck is not a settled horse and Gai’s horse Alligator Blood has the lameness query with the synthetic hoof filler. Zaaki is all skin and bone and is carrying his head awkwardly. I go into the stand to have my bet and the 4G won’t connect to Tabcorp. I try the Valley free WiFi but get the revolving sun. I guess there are twenty thousand punters trying to connect. So I give up and just watch. After all, it’s just another race on a special day. And I don’t bet on the heavy. Anamoe brains them. And the car leaves the mud behind, no help needed, no worries!


Caulfield Cup

October 15th, 2022

The first horse I see is Nonconformist in the pre-parade ring. Looks nice and relaxed. Next up is Gold Trip in the stalls. He looks terrific, hindtoe up. Imperious. Time to check out the fave, Smoking Romans. The horse is weaving. Rhymically waving its head from side to side. Quite vigorously. This is probably one of the worst things a horse can do in my book with a behavioural handicap of -50%. In other words weavers win half as often as you would expect by chance alone. In other words a lay. Gai’s horse Knights Order looks terrific and Duais is OK too. Benaud is asleep. Alegron is fine and rounds out the six for my box trifecta. I checked on the emergency Durston twice, looking fine, maybe a bit forlorn, but I didn’t pay him much attention since he was listed as having a Norton bit.

In the parade ring Gold Trip is a stand out and gets my place bet on the tote at $4.40 with a 1.10 multiplier. What’s that? $4.84. The horse looks all set to win until the neglected Durston grabs him on the line. A good winning day, but damn, in all the excitement I forgot to lay the favourite.