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Flemington National Jockeys Trust Race Day

May 22nd, 2021

Winter is coming. There is hardly a soul at Flemington and just four bookies in the main ring. I suppose they are all online these days. Out the back it is deserted apart from a few owners and trainers. There are two zones but thankfully both have access to the horse stalls.

Winter is coming

The weather seems unaware that winter is coming. It is a balmy 20 degrees with cloudless blue skies. And even better is that the programme is agreeable with the two-year-olds letting me sleep in and not jumping till 12.55 pm. I was quite taken by Deprivation, head down and chewing gently on the bit. It’s the omen bet too – I’ve been in deprivation for over a year! I was in the process of taking $4.40 fixed for the place when the odds were immediately wound back. Don’t you hate that? So I had to accept $4.20! The horse jumps out to a strong lead, which is a bit of a worry for a baby having its first go at 1400 m. Deprivation is swamped at the post, but manages to hold on for second. That’s a good start!

The next is a small field of eight stayers. I take a set against Wyclif the second favourite, mainly because the horse was sporting a humungous black nose roll for the first time, but also because it was unsettled with its head up and a fast, changing gait. So I laid it at $1.50 the place and with hindsight it was probably a brave bet in a small field. The horse drifted back to third last and then the jockey became anxious about 1000 m out. Wyclif then dropped out of the field and finished stone motherless last. I loved it when Matt Hill the race caller said Wyclif wasn’t travelling a long way from home. Obviously it didn’t like the nose roll.

I hung around for the main race the Straight Six and was half tempted by a relaxed Dexelation but in the end it was too hard and no surprise to see a 100/1 winner. So I’m out of here now. Into hibernation. Hopefully if my battery doesn’t go flat I’ll be back in the spring for the Caulfield Guineas.


Caulfield Race Day

May 8th, 2021

It’s an age since I’ve been out to The Heath. In fact Blue Diamond Day on 22 February 2020, some 440 days! I’m keen to get there early for the two-year-olds with a field of six runners. I elect to take the car rather than the train since everyone seems to be avoiding public transport in case COVID is hiding under the seats. I park in the centre of the track but the main tunnel is closed. Did you know that there are two tunnels? Well, I didn’t, but I am directed towards the Guineas tunnel which is a long walk that ends up where the old Guineas stand (the cheap seats) used to be. It turns out that after walking so far I’m still only just opposite the train station and have to struggle onwards to the main gate. It’s looking ominous and sure enough the babies jump the moment I enter the course.

The course is divided into two zones. Zone 1 is members with access to the horse stalls, Zone 2 is general public with no stall access. That’s discrimination, isn’t it? Still I have plenty of time to check out the horses, but there are no horse name cards on the stalls. An official explains that there have been no name cards since COVID as the cards are touched by too many hands – the printer, the courier, the track staff. There is a directory in the racebook but the horses are listed in alphabetical order which means the stall numbers are randomised and a real pain to sort out. And then to get to the parade ring you have to negotiate what looks like a bomb site. What are they building here? Public toilets? Maybe it’s some new stalls with electronic names like at Flemington.

In the mares I backed Savigne which was lolling its tongue and is surprisingly a positive. The horse ran an unremarkable fourth. I made another attempt to check out the stalls and noticed only one horse, Exeter, mainly because it had a saddle cloth, but also looked nice and relaxed. Exeter seemed to be running well on the pace but then faded at the 100 only to surge again in the last 20 metres. I was pretty sure it had got third, but the photo finish took an age to decide and with each passing minute it was looking more and more ominous until a dead heat was finally declared. The worst thing about dead heats is that you only get half the dividend. $1.10 the place is simply money back. I watched a couple more but the stewards were calling the horses straight up to the yard without a circuit of the parade ring and no chance to look at them. Not much point in continuing when you can’t identify them easily in the stalls or see them in the parade ring so I packed up my biro and headed home. I think I should have caught the train.