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Tabcorp AGM

October 31st, 2013

My annual angst. To buy or sell Tabcorp shares? But at least now my stress is biennial, with the meeting held every other year in Sydney. This year we have an opportunity to compare the refreshments on offer at the Grand Hyatt on Collins with those at the Sofitel in 2011. But I still remember those lamb cutlets at the Tennis Centre in 2010!

We’re not happy punters. The share price has collapsed since the loss of the pokies licence and the demerger of the casino business. Questions about remuneration are always deflected and the board and management reward themselves handsomely at our expense. Dr Switowski cops a bit of flack for wearing so many hats and being on so many boards, as well as running the NBN and RMIT. He can’t possibly have any time for our wagering business. But easily dismissed, Switowski swatted it away.

The chairperson, Ms Dwyer, got stuck into the corporate cowboys and their unfair advantage with a low tax rate, credit betting and failure to contribute to the industry. The guv’ment should do something about that! Wagering is now a very competitive business. We have the Victorian wagering licence but the split has changed from 75/25 to 50/50 with the industry, which is bad. The NSW TAB exclusive licence has been extended to 2033 which is good and Queensland Keno extended to 2047, also good. Total revenue is up 2% to 2003.2 million, which is just fair. In the first quarter of 2014 it is up 3.1% to $503.9 million, which is encouraging. Maybe, just maybe they are a hold.

The angry seagulls descended on the refreshments, but there was plenty to go around with not much elbow work required. Our numbers must be slowly declining. The attrition of age. Horses’ doovers, hot dogs and Diet Coke. I especially liked the small hot dogs. Had two. Or was that three?




The Cox Plate

October 26th, 2013

I spent a lot of time looking at the good horses in the tie-up stalls. The Williams team of Green Moon, Masked Marvel and Seville demanded most attention. Nick Williams was a bit of a distraction grandstanding in front of his horses, but I finally decided I couldn’t come at Green Moon, mainly because he was very niggly, resisted being saddled up, and needed a strong strapper hold. And also because he let me down this time last year and I have no forgiveness in me. The other two were quite cool, although Masked Marvel was easy to cross out because of the cross-over nose band and Seville had his ears back and was dumping in the yard. Fiorente looked a picture of perfection and was so relaxed he was even yawning in his tie-up. Side Glance and Super Cool also had the cross-over nose bands, a real no-no. If you backed Long John you did your money cold as he was pig-rooting in the parade ring. Shamus Award had no faults apart from a tongue tie, which hardly counts as a fault. It’s A Dundeel was vetted before the race and although passed fit to run was a serious query, given his foot abscess. Puissance De Lune was OK, but had the winkers, which I still don’t like. Rekindled Interest had the cannon bandages. Happy Trails was a clean sheet. My final selections in order were Fiorente, Happy Trails, Shamus Award. I backed Fiorente for the place and was quite happy with the $2.70. Didn’t bother with a tri! A maiden winner. Who would ever have thought?




The Caulfield Cup

October 19th, 2013

This is not a rant, not even a moan, more a reflection on the times. And the times they are a changing. On entering the racecourse a pretty young lass thrust upon me a package containing two condoms! Imagine this happening to me 50 years ago. I would have thought all my Christmases had come at once. But what use now? Closer inspection reveals it is a promotion for a corporate bookmaker. Ah, the corporates, they are taking over the punting world. The bookies ring at Caulfield is no more, and I was horrified to see that the tote board is gone now too. Just a huge advertisement for a car. Everything is for the young. Who cares about odds when there’s beer and champagne? The big screen is a miserable replacement that can’t even display half the field!

I went and talked to my old mate Kevin, the gate keeper. Kevin has backed Fawkner in the Cup at 33/1 a few weeks back. He’s in charge of the roller door. Apparently, the drunks are deposited in the spew tent and then ejected from the course through Kevin’s door. I checked at 3 pm and three bodies had already passed through the door, one on the way to hospital. Kevin said to come back at 5 and there will be a heap more. Security ejects them, Kevin just opens the door.

I did look at the horses. In the mares race the favourite Star Fashion was resisting all attempts to get her into the parade ring. The horse was playing up out the back and refusing to go forwards. No wonder she needs a stallion chain. I tried to lay the horse on Betfair but got that revolving sun symbol. Corporate bookies and new technology is fine, but not much use when you can’t even get set. I noticed two interesting strappers, a contrast in style. The first was Galadriel, the royal elf from Lord of the Rings, the Lady of Lorien. She glided by. The second was plaiting a mane but had a height problem, but easily solved with a bucket!

In the Cup my final six in order were Fawkner, Dandino, Royal Descent, Jet Away, Silent Achiever, and Glencadam Gold. I backed Fawkner for a place and boxed the six in a trifecta. Fawkner streeted them. I shoulda taken Dear Demi instead of Glencadam Gold in the tri. Damn! I rushed back to shake Kevin’s hand. 33/1 no less! But he had gone. I wonder what the final drunk count was? Those that could still stand upright were hanging around for The Living End concert. That’s racing today – condoms, corporates, champagne, concerts. I feel like a dinosaur. A relic from the past.




Caulfield Guineas

October 12th, 2013

The favourite Long John looked pretty good, but I don’t like horses that need a stallion chain in the mounting yard. Gai’s horse, Divine Calling, looked the goods, relaxed and fit.  But geldings don’t win the Guineas, do they? I didn’t bet, mainly in protest at the ridiculous scheduling of the race at 5.45 pm. I was going out the gate as the tenacious colt overpowered the fit-looking gelding.

Not much else to report. Still getting my eye in. Two bets for two collects on Piacenza in the two-year-old and Aerobatics in the mares.

And that good scientific trainer,  Mick Kent, always employs a pony. But this is the first time I have ever seen a pony for the pony!

And a Francesca sighting. But I’ve gone right off her now. If she was with Bart he’d give her a good feed.




Turnbull Stakes day

October 5th, 2013

First day back after four months off and my eye is a bit rusty. In the Turnbull I fined it down to three very relaxed horses: Happy Trails, Fiorente and Royal Descent. I don’t normally pay much attention to fitness, but the mare Royal Descent looked outstanding so she got my money. She was severely checked in the straight and lost all chance. Thank goodness the stewards have started an enquiry! That was my money!

It was busy out the back. The hyped horse Sea Moon looked pretty impressive in his stall, although not many noticed his significant penis drop. Didn’t seem to distract him from what was a pretty dogged run. I’m often asked what I look for in the tie-up stalls and I generally answer that I like to see a calm horse. I take severe exception to any repetitive behaviour. I managed to score a reasonable video of Why Not tossing his head or “nodding”. I’ve added it to my Youtube library.

Not much else to report. I found a pearl bracelet on the grass and handed it in. I imagine if the pearls are real that it will have been retrieved from lost property by now. If they are fake it could stay there for some time yet.