The biggest talking point in the Randwick betting ring on Saturday was the madness of the clashing of the Australian Guineas at Flemington and the Randwick Guineas at our “headquarters”.
Our punters couldn’t understand why the star three-year-olds from Victoria weren’t here. It is regrettable and preventable that both Sydney-winner Hallowed Crown and Melbourne-winner Wandjina are denied the chance of winning the “other” Guineas. If the group 1s were two weeks apart, as they used to be, there would be the opportunity to win them both. Rather than having but six runners in the Randwick Guineas, we’d have a full, quality field. Also importantly, it is obvious the Randwick “Guineas” programming needs to be tweaked. Five of the six runners were only “second-up”, the sixth was still only “third-up”. Obviously, the Sydney programming hasn’t provided for suitable lead-up races, which is far from ideal for three-year-old milers in such an important race. A different story, at Flemington in their Guineas, of the 14 runners, one was “second-up”, eight were “third-up”, the other five were fourth, fifth or “sixth-up”. Plainly, the Victorians have better lead-up programming.
Slip-up on semis
The Sydney betting ring found it odd that the two main Slipper semi-finals are no longer at Rosehill, as they have been forever. From a form point of view, the lead-ups being at the “scene of the crime”, where the Slipper will be run, is much better for punters to crystallise their form thoughts. Also, having them at Rosehill helps create the Slipper build-up. We all expect the Todman and the Reisling to be “Rosehill” events, so how could I be cranky when one of my clerks was an hour late for the races, having gone to Rosehill, assuming they were there! Why wouldn’t she?
Time a wonderful healer
A week is a long time in racing. Ten days ago, after Caulfield and Rosehill races, I drove home with a wife who was beside herself with melancholy. Gai’s four strong chances had just produced four last placings. She thought she’d been going to a “wedding” but ended up at a “funeral”! I reminded Gai that night of Kipling’s wonderful words: “If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster. And treat those two imposters just the same.”
Last Saturday was “Triumph’s” turn for Gai, what a contrast. Gai dominated the two Slipper lead-ups, won Fireball, the group 1 Australian Guineas and the group 1 Canterbury Stakes. Sky’s Andrew Bensley rang on Saturday night to line her up to appear on Racing Retro on Sunday morning. Impervious to his demands and then his begging, showing she had embraced Kipling, she firmly explained: “I am sorry Andrew, but I have committed to a date with my granddaughter, Rose, at the rock pool, Sunday morning”. Good on you, Gai.
Ratings off track
I thought the Randwick track played superbly on Saturday. The punters loved it. It was fair, without biased lanes, winners led and came from behind. Great stuff. Incidentally, midweek Warwick Farm was pretty good too. My only quibble is they initially described it as “Good 4” (what would have been called “Dead” before the change last December last) when it was much better (faster) than that. We all know punters are hesitant to bet when the track is a “4” or worse. Bad for turnover and the industry. To understand the problem, there are two forces at work with the track descriptions: some regard a “Good 4” as being the perfect track (it is not), so every chance the officials get, they declare a “Good 4”. No one complains. The second force comes from the track descriptors being changed from being objective projections of the times they would run (fast, good, dead, slow all relate to time) to a subjective description of how the track “feels” (good and soft). Saturday’s times were those of (should I whisper it?) a “Fast” track but the “powers that be” will counter: “No, it had plenty of give in it”. To underline the point, they did run a course-record time. I would rather the objective prediction of the times they will run and so would racing’s customers, the punters.
Wishing Luke well
I speak for all in the betting ring, when I wish Luke Noonan, bookmaker Henry Noonan’s son and head clerk a speedy recovery. He has been in an induced coma after having suffered terrible head injuries in an accident. Luke is so well liked. His father, Henry, a difficult man, would readily describe himself as a curmudgeon-type character and concede he and Luke are polar opposites. But they make a great team. We all feel for Henry. May Luke get well soon.
Walking the talk
I’m doing the Melbourne 4Tracks4Kids.com.au walk on Monday, please sponsor me for worthy charities. After the walk, I’m making a book at Moonee Valley (or is it Money Valley?). I like Race 8, number 10 Shades of Bella there.