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Zaidee’s Rainbow Foundation Race Day

April 30th, 2011

Did you watch the wedding? All that pomp and circumstance? Just magnificent. And I’m a republican! The black horses – how good were they? The spiffy uniforms, the crowds, the beautiful bride, the  kiss. And what about Mrs Middleton, the bride’s mother?  Wow!  The best hat was clearly Princess Beatrice’s number, variously described as a “uterus and fallopian tubes” or a “creature from Dr Who”. But she had a lot of competition from the burnt out sparklers poking out of Posh Spice’s head, and a hat as big as a one-day cricket sombrero atop Earl Spencer’s wife. Our own Quentin was prominent in post-box red and our Julia looked, well, Australian, with her homage to The Dish at Parkes clinging to the side of her head. But the most amazing thing about all this royal hooplah is that you can bet on it. The odds on the colour of the Queen’s outfit were 11/8 for yellow, 7/1 for purple and then 10/1 or better for the rest, with black at 100/1. The bookies have certainly got inside information when the Queen duly shows up in canary yellow. You could bet on Prince Harry being too drunk to finish his speech (25/1) and whether the royal car would break down in front of the abbey. But my favourite was the odds on Prince Philip falling asleep during the church service, which were slashed from 40/1 to 8/1. Phil is a fabled practical joker and so the bookies were worried that he might fake it!

Back to real life at Caulfield where it is a straw hat day with a firm track and a balmy 25 degrees. Very little to report. Black Caviar’s brother Moshe is trying to redeem himself after being pulled out at the barrier last time. He still looks a bit ordinary and his ears suggest that he is feeling a bit tentative. A moderate run three lengths from the winner. It must be hard being the brother of someone famous. My first bet is on Annlea in the fifth who gets up in a blanket finish at $2.50 the place. In the seventh I don’t like Thorn Park much, who has been plagued with leg problems. I try to photograph Robbie Griffiths applying the bandages but there’s too much sun. Bandages – they don’t inspire confidence. Sandusky City, the favourite, has the quadruple gear combo of ring bit, tongue tie, nasal strip and pacifiers. That doesn’t inspire much confidence either. I’m left with Royal Ida from Happy Glen and Anteros. Royal Ida is ten years old, so it’s a no bet. Why is it that the trifecta always gets up when I squib it? And in the last I have Amaethon, from At The Heads and Wookah, and again I squib it because I can’t see a standout, and again the trifecta gets up at $838. A pity I don’t take trifectas. So only one bet for the day, but at least my eye is in.


Flemington Community Raceday

April 16th, 2011

I’m a bit nervous as the track has been posted a Slow 6 after heavy rain in Melbourne during the week. I’m hopeless in the wet. Horses can look stunning in the yard but it doesn’t help them extract their feet from the slush. It looks like a look on day. My fears are confirmed by the time for the first race of 58.99, which is a Slow track time. In the second they run 1-37.49 for the 1600 which is a Dead/Slow time. Maybe the sun and the strong south-westerly are drying things out a bit.

Down the back it’s virtually impossible to see the horses in the stalls because of the height of the blooming roses. The recent drenching rains have caused them to reach for the sky and I didn’t bring my secateurs. Seeing as though I can’t bet and I can’t see the horses I amuse myself with some rose photography and miss the third race all together.

I’m seriously considering going home when I notice the third race time of 1-04.74, which suggests the track is a genuine Dead. I’ll stay one more. I’ve just about sorted my selections for the fourth, well there’s no hurry is there, when they jump. My should’ve, would’ve was You I Find who ran second at $5 for the place. The time again is a genuine Dead. And the track has been upgraded to an official Dead 5. A bettable track. Maybe I’ll stay.

In the fifth Niblick has the usual two strappers and looks the goods. I go for it and I am quite pleased when he streets them and the tote returns $3.40 for the place compared with the books $3. In the sixth I like Azkar of course but the tote shows $1.10 for the place which is a trifle short. The horse gets third and I’m surprised to see it pays $1.60. Nearly a bet! In the next I take a set against one of my favourite horses, Testa My Patience, who I’ve backed a couple of times. Today he looks too unsettled, a fast gait around the yard, dumping, the strapper using two hands. Flat Chat looks heaps better. I’m very pleased that my lay bet is matched at $1.50, but not so happy when Testa holds on for second to a strong Flat Chat. It’s some consolation that the tote paid $1.70 for the place, but it’s hard to live on consolation. I give the last a miss.


Shadwell Stud Australasia Race Day

April 9th, 2011

There are Arabs all over Caulfield today. Human Arabs dancing outside a tent on the promenade and Arabian horses out the back in the stalls. It’s a promotion for all things Arabic. The horse, the United Arab Emirates, the food, the culture, the music. I sample some dolmades and baklava. Delicious, and I’m not arguing, but isn’t the vine leaf thing and that pastry and honey thing Greek? I’m given a free ticket in the Arabian mile race. Number 5. If I win I’ll score $20 of free drinks. Such a shame that I’m off the grog.

I don’t know much about the Arabian breed, apart from them being endurance horses. Temperament wise they appear very calm and seem to accept all the fussing going on in the stalls. Physically some of them seem very small, barely ponies, struggling to reach 14 hands. They have a very light conformation and a few need a good feed, all bones, points and ribs. Trained off. The most noticeable feature of the breed is their high tail carriage giving the impression that they are all about to dump. The start of the race is effected by dropping a tape to the ground and two of the horses immediately shy and toss their riders. I’m barracking like mad for number 5, Blakes Heaven Bombora, having its first start in a race as a 10-year-old gelding. In fact nine of the 11 starters are having their first race start. But the easy winner is Franshar Park K Shar, a 14-year-old gelding who has had 14 previous starts for nine wins and five placings. Number 5 makes a late rush, but I’m quietly pleased to have backed a loser as I wouldn’t know what to do with all that grog.

I missed the first race, what with all this Arab business and the last two races were lost to rain, which swept in from the south at 1620, precisely as forecast. But I managed to squeeze in a couple of collects, one on Avionics, one of the most relaxed horses you will see, and the other on Broadcast, who I’ve backed previously for a loss, but today was a 20/1 winner.


Moonee Valley

April 2nd, 2011

Winter has arrived early at Money Valley. A cold south-westerly has dispersed all the punters except for a hardy bucks party team. They go to a lot of trouble – fifteen shirts all embroidered with World Series Bucks Day 2011 logos – but it’s not really a day for short sleeves. They must be members of that obscure Scottish cricket club the Mackenzies.

A quiet day with not much action. I amuse myself trying to get a good photo on my phone of Moshe, but fail pretty miserably. The horse certainly doesn’t have the backside of his sister Black Caviar, and looks wasted in comparison . Moshe kicks out in the barrier and gets his off hind leg caught over the back gate. The stewards pull him out and I cop a bit of heckling for upsetting the horse with my persistent photography. Like A Guest didn’t look in the mood for racing either, with ears well and truly back.

The highlight of the day was My Emotion in Race 6. The horse propped on the track and absolutely refused to go forward, despite the insistence of the strapper, two and then three clerks, and the jockey vigorously using the persuader. Eventually the jockey dismounted and the horse trotted forward. The jockey hopped on and the horse halted! After several more attempts the horse finally got going riderless and J Maskiell managed to get aboard. The Mackenzies loved it and broke out in cheers. I was too busy watching all this to worry about laying it! The horse finished tailed off ten lengths last. Do you think this horse resented the nose roll?

Betting wise, I backed one loser Pontiana and two placed horses, Johnny Fiasco and Akzar, for an OK average day. I tried to lay Big Spirit for the place at $1.70 but wasn’t matched. The horse tossed off the jockey (Airborne Jockey!) on the way to the barrier. TVN didn’t pick it up so I thought I might have some inside running. These sorts of horses are likely to miss the jump. As it turned out Big Spirit fell out of the barrier but ended up in front and led all the way for a strong win.