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Caulfield Race Day

May 8th, 2021 3 comments

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.

3 Responses to “ Caulfield Race Day ”

  1. Trevor says:


    I have never noticed horse name cards at the UK courses that I have visited, that would be an innovation! Usually horses do a couple of circuits around the parade ring before they are led into the equivalent of the birdcage stalls here by a handler (not all choose to do this), for tack adjustments, prior to leaving for the mounting yard (the main parade ring in the UK).

    Horses going straight to the mounting yard is also an issue on certain courses here. It could be worse – I still have a go at assessing horses on terrestrial TV to keep my interest up. A minute or two may be set aside for this at a big race meeting with Francesca Cumani (I think she’s been involved with the Melbourne Cup coverage in the past) walking alongside each horse in the mounting yard and making comments.

    Best wishes

  2. Geoffrey says:

    Yes, we know Francesca well. I think I’m over her now!

  3. Trevor says:

    I always live in hope that they will allow Francesca more time. Luke Harvey, one of the other presenters, locates himself down at the starting stalls which gives another perspective. More recently ITV Racing have occasionally given Ken Pitterson, a paddock expert, a slot but not necessarily in the races that Ken might excel in.
    Best wishes

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