There were plenty of lessons for punters to learn from last Saturday’s racing if they really want to learn – so let me share some of them with you.

The first one was that if Lucky Nine is “a world class sprinter” like everyone will have you believe, then exactly who was the imposter that raced at Flemington last Saturday afternoon? Most people would have thought prior to the VRC Sprint Classic that if you saw Lucky Nine in the Manangatang Cup at WFA, or the Dingo Cup at WFA, that he’d be a “put-in-take-out” job for a bank teller. His pathetic effort last Saturday, when he was as soft as an ice cream in the midday sun at Marble Bar, suggested otherwise. Hopefully he and Buffering can clash again in Hong Kong, on Lucky Nine’s own dung hill and see if he can get closer than 4.5 lengths of the Queenslander. On the subject of Buffering, if the little 50-kilo bundles of joy that ride against the gelding let him get away with a ridiculously slow first 600 every time he contests a 1200-metre race, he’ll probably retire having won about 22 Group 1’s. Earth to the said bundles of joy – are you with the rest of us here on Planet Earth? The game’s called “racing” – not “walking”.

Talking of Queenslander, what about the Brisbane Winter Carnival form holding up for Group 1 Doomben 10,000 winner Epaulette? His two Melbourne runs have resulted in a 10 lengths thrashing by Samaready in the Moir Stakes and a 17.25 lengths thrashing by Buffering last Saturday. Epaulette has now been retired – which is the good news. The bad news is that he’ll now stand at stud in an attempt to improve the gene pool. On his last two efforts he should be gelded and given to some feral snotty nosed school kid, to give that little juvenile delinquent something constructive – not destructive – to do after they get home from school detention. On the subject of feral schoolkids I see there’s a push to have the cane reintroduced. Wouldn’t that be a good old fashioned shock to some of the little ferals, I can’t actually work out why its use got stopped. Probably the do-gooders got their way – again. It didn’t do anyone that I know any harm when they were school kids – and there’s no question that it taught kids a bit of respect. Plus I used to like to see that Brown kid cringe when he was getting six of the best with a lawyer cane. After all, he was a terrible kid. The little bugger got “six of the best” plenty of times because of the havoc he caused at primary school bear in mind – not secondary school. I recall he once hit the teacher with the big bell that was rung for assembly and he drowned six ducklings in a septic on another occasion. These days they’d give the kid something passive and patronizing like counselling and an “encouragement award” on their awards night – but I digress.

Back to the score at the Test – and yet again we didn’t get past noon Queensland time last Saturday before an odds-on favourite got rolled. But maybe some punters are starting to learn from articles written here, as Index Linked officially blew from $1.50 to $1.75, before finding Capital Commander too strong in the first at Randwick. On the subject of Randwick why didn’t stewards upgrade the track to a good 2 from a good 3 really early in the day, given as early as Race 2, a first starter 2YO named Earthquake ran within 0.57 of a second off the 1000-metre track record. If the track wasn’t a good 2, then Earthquake will win the 2014 Golden Slipper. Then just two races later in a lowly Benchmark 75 race, Foreign Prince ran the 1400 in a brilliant 1.21.52, which is just 0.49 of a second off More Than Great’s track record and More Than Great had to beat subsequent dual Cox Plate winner So You Think the day he broke the track record. Earth to stewards.

Two top training efforts along the eastern seaboard last Saturday deserved special mention I thought and those “top training efforts” were put in by young Sam Kavanagh in Sydney and Wez Hunter in Melbourne. The Wez Hunter effort with Smokin’ Joey has got plenty of airplay so I don’t need to comment any further on it, but Sam Kavanagh’s effort to simply win a Saturday city race in Sydney with the enigmatic Absalon was good, as the horse lost a leg early in his career when trained at Caloundra. The effort of Smokin’ Joey over the last two Saturdays, which all of Lee Freedman, Anthony Freedman and Mick Price couldn’t get to fire – and Absalon winning a Saturday city race in a slick 1.21.84 for 1400 metres, again shows why owners shouldn’t hesitate to give their non-performing horse a go in another stable. It’s probably fair comment that most people had they been asked 11 days ago to give one word to describe the racehorse Smokin’ Joey – would have answered “cat”. He didn’t look too much like a cat the last two Saturday’s at Flemington, earning $120,000 for winning two Saturday’s ago and $180,000 for running second to Boban last Saturday. $300,000 Smokin’ Joey has earned in just seven days and it wouldn’t be hard to mount a case to say that he should have beaten Boban last Saturday, as he only got beaten half-a-neck and was wide with no cover from about the 1050.

Yet again last Saturday – and I’ve written stories on this topic on this website over the years – it was proven that “weights are the most overrated aspect of thoroughbred racing”. Race 5 in Brisbane proved that statement to be 100% accurate yet again. You see on 20/4/13 at the exact same track (Eagle Farm) and distance (1000m) as last Saturday, Better Than Ready and Rocky King met on a slow 6 track (it was a good 3 last Saturday) at level weights (57kgs) and Better Than Ready beat Rocky King home by 1.25 lengths. Last Saturday Better Than Ready had 61kgs and Rocky King carried officially 52.5kgs (handicapped weight of 54kgs minus 1.5kgs claim for apprentice Anthony Allen) meaning this time Better Than Ready met Rocky King an incredible 8.5kgs worse at the weights. The late Clif Cary deduced that in thoroughbred racing “3 pounds equals a length” and “3 pounds” equals 1.36kgs, therefore 8.5kgs is equal to 6.23 lengths, derived at thus, 8.5kgs x 2.2 (pounds in a kilo) divided by 3 (pounds to a length). So that means on weights alone, wherever they finished last Saturday, that Rocky King should beat Better Than Ready in by 4.98 lengths (6.23 minus 1.25 from their last start meeting). Yet none of that eventuated, as Better Than Ready actually beat Rocky King home by further last Saturday – 1.75 lengths instead of 1.25 lengths from 20/4/13. So again the point is to not take much notice of weights in thoroughbred racing up to and including 1200 metres or you’ll go mad. Better Than Ready humping 61kgs with ease to win racing away, also reinforces the fact that “weight single-handedly won’t stop a horse winning up to and including 1200 metres,” which I’ve written numerous articles on over the years.

The other part that really needs to be written up from last Saturday’s racing is the fact that modern day “experts” and “tipsters”, don’t seem to look for value. Whilst it’s easy to be wise after the event, how were some of these what I’d call “bad horses to punters” value that raced in Brisbane last Saturday? Stradon resumed for a new stable but he’d won just one of 11 going into the race, so he possessed a pathetic 9.09% win strike rate as he headed off to the barrier which conversely means he had a proven losing ratio of 90.91%. Yet he went to the barriers at 6/4?

Theft hadn’t won a race in his last 11 starts, or for more than a year (last win 29/9/12) – yet punters launched into him, backing him officially from $4.20 to $3.20. How was he value at $4.20, let alone his official SP of $3.20?

What about that tease Arctic? You’d think punters would be as cold as a frog on him last Saturday, given that like Theft he hadn’t won a race in his previous 11 starts either, before last Saturday’s assignment. He understandably went AWOL in the run at 3/1. Again how the hell would 3/1 be value about a horse with a horrible CV like that? The facts and realities about Arctic – which were there in a form guide for all to see – were that the horse had won just one race since 1/2/12 and that’s 21 months. And going into the race every form guide in the country showed that he had a 7.60% win strike rate, which conversely means he has a 92.40% loss strike rate. Do you want to phone our favourite bookie to get on, or log onto Betfair and play bookie yourselves when all of these oxygen thieves race? It’s not rocket science. It’s no wonder bookies own the units overlooking Sydney Harbour with so many punters willingly donating generously to their cause by backing non-achieving racehorses at short prices.

I did see one idea that I think ought to be adopted nationally and that happened in the last race at Brisbane last Saturday. The relevant part of the stewards report on Theft read: “Stewards opened an inquiry into the reason for Theft (T. Harrison) shifting out from the heels of Achievements (E. Wilkinson) approaching the 600 and making contact with San Jose (G. Colless). T. Harrison explained that she was given specific instructions to obtain cover on Theft and when Achievements crossed to the lead approaching the 900m she was unable to restrain that gelding in order to maintain a trailing position behind Achievements in the middle stages. Stewards will interview trainer T. Gollan regarding employing a senior rider in future starts”. Personally I applaud that sort of stewarding as I think restricting certain horses to be only ridden by a senior rider is a top idea and that virtual directive should be more prevalent in – primarily in the interests of jockey safety, apart from anything else. The previous Saturday in Sydney we saw Blackboard Special, in Race 3 at Rosehill carry on like a total fruit-loop up the straight for apprentice Matt McGuren. Matt’s a capable young man in the saddle, but he’s obviously not as streetwise or as strong as a senior jockey. So why don’t stewards rule that horses like Blackboard Special can only be ridden by a senior jockey until the horse is more experienced, as in fairness to that particular horse he was only having his third run in a race when he lost the plot at Rosehill.

That brings me to another point with apprentices. Why the hell do owners and trainers put apprentices on 2YO’s? I regularly just shake my head when I see 3kg kids riding first starter 2YO’s. It’s nothing but what I’d call “rampant stupidity”, in my opinion, to put a 3-kilo apprentice on a 2YO, as we have double whammy here – a) an inexperienced horse that’s learning and b) a kid that’s inexperienced and learning. At least a senior jockey is some chance of teaching the “inexperienced horse” right from wrong. The same scenario is unlikely to unfold if a 17YO kid who is a 3kg claimer has the sit, as that will surely be akin to “the blind leading the blind, helped by the unwilling and assisted by the unknowing”.

And last but by no means least, how about Barbed racing at Flemington in glue on shoes last Saturday going missing in action? I even put photographic evidence up on the website and penned a special article as to why he wasn’t a certainty beaten at his previous start and that those four photos can be revisited at the bottom of the montage HERE – but all that work didn’t stop all the “experts” and “good judges” tipping him last Saturday. That’s before he went like a hobbled duck at $3.70. And so as not to be wise after the event, this is what I told my Saturday Morning Mail clients of Barbed’s chances last Saturday:


Was unbeaten until he started racing in glue on shoes – and since he’s been racing in them he hasn’t won a race, so I’d want to see him win in that footwear before backing him and he’s a very short priced favourite here. Missed the kick last start and everyone thought he was unlucky – but I didn’t.


And then this:

Additional comments: I just can’t come into this favourite in glue on shoes.

Today on www.brisbaneracing.com.au there’s the first montage of photos from Eagle Farm last Saturday. On www.sydneyracing.com.au Bernard Kenny looks back at the Breeders’ Cup, whilst on www.melbourneracing.com.au there’s a look forward to Saturday’s Sandown meeting at Caulfield and the fact that Smokin’ Joey is heading to Western Australia in an attempt to win a Group 1.