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Thoroughbred Club Cup Day

March 27th, 2010

I’m lucky to get a leave pass today because I’ve got to go to a wedding. So I’m only here for four races. Don’t young people know that there are races on Saturday? But four is better than none, and they are my favourite races – two-year-olds and mares.

There are crows over Caulfield. A murder of crows, and this is some considerable murder. There must be over 200 of them, sitting on the roof of the grandstand doing Graham Kennedy calls. Every so often they take off and wheel and circle about in the sky. Very impressive.

Crows over Caulfield

Actually, they are not crows, but ravens. In the olden days when I used to be a bird watcher and not a horse watcher I was very pedantic about making sure everyone knew the difference between a raven and a crow. These days I’m not so fussed. And I remember that these are Little Ravens not Australian Ravens, because they lift their wings up when calling and gather up into these huge mobs.

Crows or ravens? Is it a portent of doom? Death even? Vincent and his cornfields?

There’s a standout in the two-year-old, Curtana, prancing around the mounting yard, but everyone seems to have seen it and backed it. It wins like a good thing and returns $1.04 for the place. Avionics looks good and solid in the next and this will be the second time I have backed her. I miss the $2.20 with the books and put it on the tote at $2.10. A nice strong win. The Robbie Griffiths stable is on fire. It’s nice to be ahead, but I give it up straight away on Emblem of Liberty in the next. If I was laying horses I would have opposed Miss Alia, who was led into the yard by the clerk of the course, a very bad sign, and then proceeded to put on a show until led out early onto the track. As I was placing my bet on Emblem of Liberty the tote lass reminded me that there would be only two place dividends. I’m never ever reminded of that, so she must have thought that I was a bit of a dill. I could only mumble that I hope it gets second, but I left the window with that faint chill you get when a goose walks over your grave. It’s those blooming crows. Emblem of Liberty of course runs third.

I leave with what I started with. But the wedding is starting to look good. And I managed to get a nice snap of the bride.

The bride

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Anniversary Vase Race Day

March 20th, 2010

I carry my childhood around in my head. And a part of it was lost today. Fess Parker, otherwise known as Davy Crockett, has died at 85. Oh, how we loved him. His good looks and slow talkin’ drawl. Why did he have to be killed at the Alamo? And what was Jim Bowie doing there with his big knife? All I wanted for Christmas in 1955 was a coonskin cap. Thank goodness Santa was listening. That’s me on the right. But of course they weren’t raccoons, but good old Aussie rabbits and fox tails.

Coonskin caps

And that song:

 Born on a mountain top  in Tennessee,

The greenest state in the land of the free,

Raised in the woods so he knew every tree,

Killed himself a b’ar when he was only three,

Davy, Daveeee Crockett, king of the wild frontier.

It’s still using up space in my brain. And I thought all my brain space had been taken up by racehorses.

And so I mope off to Caulfield. I perk up straight away with the first race, a two-year-old with seven runners. I cross out five to be left with Eclair Mystic and Domesky. I have written down nothing about Eclair Mystic. A clean sheet. And Domesky is good, although pawing out the back and circling in the yard. I back the Eclair for a place and they run the quinella. A good start.

Race four for mares and again only two chances. Solchow, who looks a certainty to run a place and Elumino, a cleanskin with no faults and head in towards the strapper. Solchow is showing $1.40 for the place, well below my $1.75 limit, and so I back the other at $2.10. They run the quinella.

Come the last I’m keen for a bet, seeing as though it’s a mares race and I’m up. I settle on Return to Sender until she does an almighty sloppy dump right under my nose. So I settle on Symphony Miss and then she shows extreme resistance to the jockey on the track. So I settle for two out of two.

On the train home it’s still going around in my brain. Davy, Daveeee Crockett, king of the wild frontier.


Australian Cup day

March 14th, 2010

It was a fleeting observation, the smallest of things, but with tragic consequences . Well, maybe not such a small thing. You will remember I was chasing Changingoftheguard up the race to the mounting yard at Caulfield the other day, trying to photograph his prominent erection. I was looking forward to the Australian Cup when I could have another attempt. The next week David Hayes reported that the horse was acting “very colty”, a marvellous racing euphemism, and might have to be gelded if he was to achieve his ultimate aim of winning the 150th Melbourne Cup. And then the nightmare, when the stayer died during surgery. Hayes reported that “he suffered a ruptured bowel during the operation and did not survive. He was put down for humane reasons”. I checked with a horse vet about what could go wrong in such a straightforward procedure as a gelding operation and you simply don’t want to know. My sympathies to David Hayes, Lindsay Park and the owners.

So I’m feeling a bit down on this big day, with no sense of anticipation or excitement. The weather seems stifling too and my trips out back slow to a sluggish crawl. In fact, by the time the Cup rolls around I haven’t had a bet. There are lots of good looking horses: Sirmione, Littorio, Moatize, Zarita but head and shoulders above them all is the old veteran Zipping. Lean, fit and bony with the usual Lloyd Williams attention to detail, a pony and two strappers. My one and only bet for the day. $2.30 on the tote compared with $1.95-$2.05 with the books. Zipping falls in by half a nostril.

But I leave the track in a sombre mood. At least I don’t have to take off my shoes and socks, roll up my daks, and wade through ice cold water!


Super Saturday

March 7th, 2010

 Sometimes a picture speaks a thousand words.

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