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Caulfield Taralye Race Day

May 28th, 2011

It must be winter. The omens are ominous. The track is a shifty Slow 7 and my old mate, Jungle Ruler, the meanest horse in Melbourne and a wet track specialist, seems to be turning up every week. So it must be winter. Today he’s well-behaved, and only needs a stallion chain, pony, fly mask and a hand-held strapper to keep him under control in his stall. And all the horses’ coats are getting woolly. Stop, and look at Punctuate!

The cold is slowing me down and I missed the first two races. I’m not betting, but again my selections were not too bad. Race 3: The Counterfeiter and Miss Holyfield; Race 4: Spurcific; Race 5: Sheedy; Race 6: Believe ‘N Achieve; Race 7: Geejayhaitch; Race 8: Mid Summer Music. Four places out of seven, for 57% and an average divvy of $2.65. Maybe I should reconsider my self-imposed ban in the wet.

Sheedy looked a bit shaggy, but whenever Sheeds turns up it reminds me that the racing season is over and that it’s time for footy. And all this rain means that the drought is well and truly over. And my own drought is over as well. I’ve been off the grog for a year now, but the start of winter is the signal to open a bottle of red. So I’m off to the spelling paddock and hopefully should be back for the Turnbull Stakes, but definitely the Caulfield Guineas. I’ll try and send a couple of postcards from the paddock. Bring on the spring!  Here’s cheers!


Andrew Ramsden Stakes Day

May 21st, 2011

My penultimate day for the season. And the weather has taken a turn for the better, with a strong northerly wind, some sunshine, and a drying track – upgraded from Dead 5 to Dead 4. No real excuses today.

It seems to be a day for chains. A trifecta of chained horses. The first is the comeback horse, Carnero, who hasn’t started for 1169 days, since failing in the 2008 Derby. Carnero is hand-held in his stall with a stallion chain. He’s obviously keen to get going again and is difficult to handle. He shows some early speed and is only three lengths off them at the end. The second horse in chains is Russian Bond, who looks to be in bondage. His pawing chains seem to work as he doesn’t attempt to paw while I’m watching, but they don’t inspire much confidence. I regard horses that bring their stable vices to the racetrack as poor betting propositions, but Russian Bond doesn’t listen to my opinion and rattles home for second at $3.80. And the third chained horse is Doubly Sure, who is sporting the rarely observed tail chain. This is used on horses that are windsuckers through their rear end. A small chain about 10 centimetres long is strapped or taped to the base of the tail so that the end of the chain impinges upon the anus. This stimulation encourages the horse to keep the back passage closed and stop it ingesting air. Doubly Sure finished 36 lengths from the winner, so maybe he was full of air, but he certainly wasn’t floating.

Not much betting action. A loser, Cheville at $6.80 for the place, and a second by Perturbo, at $1.80, for a slight loss on the day. But it’s always good to exercise your money.


Caulfield Members’ Race Day

May 14th, 2011

It’s cold and wet and must be snowing somewhere. I’m in full winter gear – thermal underwear, anorak and beanie. The track is Heavy 9, later upgraded to Heavy 8. I don’t even know why I’m here since I don’t bet in the wet. In fact, I missed the first three races until I finally realised that I needed to get out of the house, if only to stretch my legs and collect my free racebook and biro.

It’s interesting to see how I would have gone if I had been playing. My selections for the last five races were Race 4: back Hawks Bay; Race 5: back Shylock’s Daughter; Race 6: back Elumino; Race 7: back Curtana and Don’t Wake Me, lay Enzed Girl; Race 8: back Amaethon, lay Jungle Ruler. End result – five placed horses, one loser and two winning lays. Maybe I should reconsider my ban on betting in the wet.

Enzed Girl

The lay bets were pretty obvious. Enzed Girl was a triple dumper, spraying the mounting yard and herself with faecal material, and Jungle Ruler, the meanest horse in Melbourne, was kicking and biting in his stall as expected, then dumping and grinding on the bit in the yard. Both horses ran poorly.

Here’s hoping the weather picks up for the last two weeks of my season and that I get to have some real bets.


Flemington Green Fields Raceday

May 7th, 2011

I’ve been thinking of making this blog a bit more dynamic by spicing it up with some video. I got a great movie a couple of weeks back of Broken furiously pawing in his stall. When I downloaded it and played it on my computer I had to turn my head sideways to look at it. I had filmed it in portrait mode and it played back in landscape. Simple you might say – just rotate it. I sought help from my next-door neighbour, an IT expert, who finally succeeded in rotating it, but now Broken was really bugggered. He was stretched out sideways like a salami sausage, but still furiously pawing. At least I didn’t have to turn my head. So this week I have realized it would be simpler not to turn the camera on its side but just shoot the movie in landscape mode. I got a great video of Padawan Star pawing in his stall but when I tried to upload it the website had a heart attack. The movie was 16 MB and the maximum allowable is 7 MB. My movie was only 5 seconds long, but obviously the resolution was too high. I learnt a long time ago that when all else fails – read the manual. So I’ve done some reading and I am now totally primed to shoot low res movies. A dynamic blog will soon appear!

A quiet day at Flemington, with the grey skies and creeping cold a reminder that my season is quickly coming to an end. I was watching the two-year-olds out the back when an unidentified chestnut started pigrooting. One of my basic rules of horse watching is that a horse must keep four feet on the ground. So anything that bucks, kicks, rears, pigroots, or otherwise removes itself from terra firma is a definite no bet. Obviously, this means that I have no interest in jumps racing. But let’s hope that Racing Victoria doesn’t over-react to the freak accident at Warrnambool and impose any draconian restrictions on horse watchers. When Banna Strand jumped a two metre high fence into the crowd at Warrnambool we realized that racing is dangerous not only for horses and jockeys, but for spectators too! Watching racehorses can be a risky business. A frightened horse on the loose is a dangerous and unpredictable thing. Hey, horse watchers, be careful out there!

Also, I have been paying a bit more attention to feet and shoes since my meeting last year with Peter Strafford, the racecourse farrier. I have been trying for some time to get a decent photo of shock-shod shoes, glue-on shoes and bar plates. It’s a tricky task as the plate is only exposed for a millisecond as the hoof flicks up. But today I managed to fluke an action shot of a bar plate on Niblick. Bar plates must be a negative if all that metal is needed to hold the hoof together, as well as the extra few grams the horse must cart around the track. I know for sure that I don’t like running around with lead in my boots! So I decided to lay Niblick for the place and offered a generous $1.80 with the tote showing $1.60, but my bet wasn’t matched. The horse finished on for fourth, missing third by a whisker. The plates probably made the difference!