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Betfair Park Hillside

January 29th, 2011

I quite like the two-year-old races, mainly because nobody has a clue as to how they will run. And I didn’t have much of clue either and ended up crossing them all out for one reason or another. But I thought the chances of Decircles could be slightly reduced because he was curling his upper lip in his stall. This is the classic flehmen response.


 The photograph doesn’t quite capture the extent of the curl but gives you the general idea. There is quite a good description of flehmen in that  indispensable punter’s bible – Watching Racehorses. The behaviour is generally thought to be involved in sniffing out mares on heat, not something we want our two-year-old colts to be doing before a race. Despite the distraction the horse ran on OK for a pleasing seventh.

I backed Lohnreign for a place in the third, even though Under The Eiffel looked outstanding and had won convincingly last time out at Sandown. But I was happy with $2.00 for second place. I gave it back on a miserable Testalux in the fifth and came in to race six all square.

Jumpout Joey reckoned Spacecraft was the lay of the day on fitness grounds and the horse’s behaviour certainly left a lot to be desired. He was very unsettled, head up, changing stride, fast gait, circling in the yard, gaping, flared nostrils, showing me some teeth, sweating copiously behind. I had already noted that the vet had blood sampled him in his stall, but horses handle that with no drama. I laid him for the place at $1.60. My selections were Rockpecker and Wealthy Lad. Because I’m such a Rockpecker fan I backed him for the place at $1.90, but he was crunched into $1.50. I think all of Stony Creek must have been on him. The horse showed great determination to win from Wealthy Lad. There was a minor moment of panic when Spacecraft looked like squeezing Barwon Express out of the finish but Barwon Express fought back well to grab third.

A successful back and lay in the same race! That’s enough excitement for one day!


Flemington Summer Heroes Raceday

January 22nd, 2011

The nice man at Betfair has fixed my account problem. You’ll remember my consternation when I discovered that I didn’t have a funded account. It turns out that I wasn’t bankrupt after all. It seems that the iPhone app iBetMate needs a transaction every now and then on the Main Wallet to keep working and all my money is in the Australian Licence Wallet. It’s a bit of a fiddle but the problem was solved by transferring one dollar into the Main Wallet. So I’m all set again to lay some horses.

A beautiful day at Flemington, but warm and sticky. The first race is made for me: two-year-olds and only seven runners. Two place dividends, if you can find that second horse. Redangelo is the red hot favourite, comfortable and relaxed, and I’ve crossed out all the other horses. The books have it at $1.45 for the place so it looks like no bet, but with 20 seconds to go it’s holding up at $1.90 on the tote on a small pool, so I go for it. The horse fights on well after being headed in the straight for a strong win. I’m happy with $1.80.

In the second I like Winged Charm and the $2.00 for second makes it two from two. Gail looked the goods in the third, a big strong looking mare, but too short at $1.40. I liked Port Vell in the fourth, but the favourite Cabeza looked very good too, so no bet. In the fifth Pergola was sweating up badly, but I regard that as a positive on a hot day. However, I didn’t like it resisting the jockey. I had Cheerful Jury on top from Olympic Win and Pheromone. Cheerful Jury was $5.00 the place with the books which was too tempting to resist, but the horse shamed me by finishing tailed off 12 lengths last. Olympic Win won, and Pheromone got a sniff for third at $4.10.

In the sixth Big Spirit sported some lovely orange winkers for my picture library. And the filly, Warm Love, was a stand out, with Grand Duels the only danger. Normally I would discount Grand Duels chances because of his bandage, but he has won so often with it that I now ignore it. Warm Love was $1.55 with the books but with 10 seconds to go hit $1.90 on the tote. Grand Duels just grabbed the filly on the line. The final dividend of $1.70 for second was under my threshold $1.80 but I was happy to collect. No bet in the seventh. Voile Rouge was sweating up copiously and won convincingly. The horse clearly demonstrated that sweating up on a hot and humid day is a help and not a hindrance. King Diamond was a picture of perfect fitness in the last. He won like a good thing and I had a very modest win bet on him just to round out the day.

A good day, with three out of four winning place bets. And in the end I didn’t lay a single horse.


Chester Manifold Stakes Day

January 15th, 2011

Like the rest of Australia I’ve been totally washed out, but not so much by floodwaters, more like Montezuma’s Revenge. I’ve never been so wasted. I suppose it’s the price you pay for all that feasting over Christmas. My back ached, my head ached and my body couldn’t find a comfortable position in space. All I could do was lie about moaning. I couldn’t read, I couldn’t write, I couldn’t watch TV, I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sit, except for rushed visits to the throne room. And I couldn’t even go to the races! That’s how sick I was! That’s pretty sick.

So a tentative and conservative return to Flemington, with no betting intentions. The track seems to have coped remarkably well with all the rain and is posted a Dead 5. The race times suggest it is Good. My eye is taken by winkers. I don’t score blinkers because they are common and noted in the racebook, but I have been keeping stats on winkers for some time now. I’m still not convinced they are a positive. I suppose the standard is your regular basic black, but there are some amazing colour variations about.

Arkham’s pink winkers looked quite gay. She was listed in the book as having ear muffs, but Warm Love, the race winner, must have borrowed them. And a nice slinky, shiny leather set they are too. Selma Spur had postbox red winkers, but I’m not sure what the horse thought of them. Horses do have some limited colour vision. They are generally regarded as dichromats, which means they are sensitive to light of only two wavelengths, blue and yellow, compared with humans who have trichromatic vision. So horses probably see the world much as a red-green colour blind human would, and those red winkers would appear to be a murky, sickly yellow. The grey Liffeybel had white winkers but seemed intent on shaking them off.

There are a lot of differences between the horse and human visual systems, including the anatomy of the eye and the structure of the retina. My own vision is plagued by floating black dots caused by vitreous detachment. The jelly bit of the eye has separated from the retina. But for now, I’m just glad that I can watch horses again. Happy New Year.