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Caulfield National Jockeys’ Trust Race Day

April 28th, 2012

The striking three-year-old Zamorar was being touted as a future champion and sent out at $2.30 favourite in the third. I thought he had a bit of a parrot mouth, but in addition he was showing some terrific overbite with his top lip retracted to show some great teeth. I’m gradually developing a disliking to a display of teeth, which is often an indicator of some dissatisfaction with the bit. And he was showing some great gums and flared nostrils! And also he was grinding on the bit, which has long been one of my no-nos. And he had a suspicious bandage above his hock as well. And did I mention that he was changing stride, with his head up? I was in the process of laying him for the place when I was interrupted by an important conversation with someone about something or another and didn’t get set. The horse managed to grab second. Sometimes it pays not to get set!

It turned out to be one of those days. A winner, Lucky Penny, at $2.00 the place, but then I gave it back with a fourth by Queen’s Fashion. All good exercise for the wallet.


Flemington Community Raceday

April 14th, 2012

No excuses today. An Indian summer. A beautiful, balmy 25 degrees, and a dry track. In the first I was presented with a conundrum. Two two-year-olds from the Ellerton-Zahra stable, both parading around the yard in a very relaxed manner, heads down. Which one to back? Pillar of Creation, more fancied at $3.00 the place, or Thunder Rain at $3.80 the place. I always fear that the unfancied one in a dual entry will get up. But in the end the horses decide it for me, with Thunder Rain tossing her head up going out to the track. How I hate “Head up”. Pillar of Creation storms home from last to snatch third.

In the second the $3.80 favourite So Pristine is all over the shop, with the strapper struggling to contain it. I scored ten possible faults, including: tongue tie, exposed teeth, tugging on the strap, bucking, flared nostrils, clacking (striking itself), head up with the jockey up, and sweating behind. I like my mares to be calm so I fired up iBetMate and laid it on Betfair at $1.60 the place. Sam Hyland, the mounting yard reporter on TVN, couldn’t fault it. We are obviously reading different books. So Pristine struggled into fifth place.

In the next, brimming with confidence, I backed a relaxed City Of Song, despite the green winkers. The horse wore them for the first time at her previous start at Moonee Valley and they didn’t impede her barnstorming run home for second. The horse repeats the dose and comes from near last to win going away at $5.20 the place. Three out of three! I put the cue in the rack and spent the rest of the day patting myself on the back. I didn’t even indulge in photography, apart from an art shot of the sun streaming through a horse’s whiskers on a beautiful autumn day in Melbourne. Isn’t racing wonderful?

Melbourne autumn

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Caulfield Easter Cup Day

April 7th, 2012

Now that I’m paying a little more attention to the bridle and bit I’ve decided that I may as well keep track of blinkers too. I’ve procrastinated about scoring blinkers for a long time mainly because they are in such common use, but I’ll give it a burl for a while. I scored a terrific photo today of that aberrant blinker – the visor – on Festina Lente. The visor is simply a blinker with a peep hole or slot cut in the back of the cup. Blinkers allegedly encourage a horse to go forward by preventing it seeing to the rear and being distracted by other horses. In other words, they are an aid to concentration. The function of the visor then is a little obscure, offering small rearward peeps. And usually you will only see a single visor, either on the near or off side, depending on the horse. My own opinion is that it is a sign of desperation, but I’ll check with a few trainers and report back, before giving it the thumbs down. Maybe I’m missing something.

And another pet hate is the ring bit hold, where the strapper slides his/her hand into the ring bit and then tugs down. I immediately imagine that grand trainer George Hanlon going beserk. But today I saw a double-handed ring bit hold on Second Effort. The strapper was really struggling with the effort to contain the horse. But to make matters worse the horse went out onto the track with the assistance of the clerk and then won! A good day for bad behaviour! A bad day for horse watchers.

Two bets for two losers.  And to make matters even worserer Follonica backed up for the place at $2.90 without me aboard. Now that we have passed the autumn equinox I can feel the chill of winter coming on. Two losing weeks in a row.  I’ll hang in there for six more weeks. Maybe more photography, less punting.