The Championships needs to move away from Easter with fixed dates

The Championships were a great success but premier trainer Chris Waller and I both are of the view

that the dates should be fixed, rather than being tied to Easter, which can fall anywhere over six-week period.

The Golden Slipper should be run every year on the first Saturday in April, the Doncaster and Derby the second, Oaks, Sydney Cup and Queen Of The Turf on the third and the All Aged (with prizemoney topped up), the Champagne and the Queen Elizabeth the last.

“Your proposed program is perfect,” Waller says.

That would give the Championships a sensible three-week gap from the climax of the Victorian carnival.

It is crucial to have the two weeks between the Doncaster and the Queen Elizabeth. Were there a fortnight’s break, in people’s minds at least, it is easy to aim at both and every chance we may have seen Winx win the double. On Saturday we only had one Doncaster runner, Happy Clapper, back up for Sydney’s richest race. And the richer Queen Elizabeth rated lower than the Doncaster.

I thought the Randwick course proper played better than everyone anticipated. The rail being out six metres made a big difference. But it is still not a satisfactory course for great racing.

Randwick drains poorly and the grass roots won’t do their job, even after 20 years. The $12 million just has to be spent and the course redone and redrained.

I hope they use the people who did Caulfield, which is sensational. Had Caulfield had the same limited rain we had at Randwick, they’d be watering it to soften it to a good 3.

Another day to remember for Williams

In one’s life there are a small number of very special days that live forever. The morning Gai and I spent with Lloyd Williams at his Mt. Macedon Lodge was one of those for us.

Williams has made his training facility the best in the world. It has 15 kilometres of tracks and trails including a mile uphill gallop with a Pro-Ride surface, a five-furlong oval track (also Pro-Ride), a 75-metre saltwater swimming pool, eight water walkers, 12 horse walkers, treadmills, solariums and hot showers. Any trainer would adore plying his trade there.

The Macedon staff are top drawer. Gai knows, having previously employed several). We were amazed with the quantity and quality of the horses’ feed.

Punters know what a magnificent job is done – if you backed his runners for the last year they won 40 per cent on turnover.

Uniquely, Williams has owned a string of horses for fifty years. I know him to be racing’s greatest thinker. Gai describes him as her mentor.

Gallante’s Sydney Cup win on Saturday was his fifth in this great race. Perhaps Gallante will be his fifth Melbourne Cup winner.

Seventh heaven

By nature, most people are superstitious.

Even my wife puts her hats upside down, so they rest on the crown – to “hold the luck in”, she claims.

Bookmakers can be no different. My late cousin, Charlie Waterhouse, used to wear the same lucky clothes every race day for years, well washed and mended. Leviathan “stay at home” bookie, the late Nick Bodkin, in spite of many gamblers’ aversion to green, only ever wore that colour.

My fellow rails bookie, Leo Lewin, won’t ever lay horse number seven.

He says: “It is the Jewish year 5776 (years since creation), which features seven, so it is my lucky number.”

After three No.7s – Danish Twist, Sofia Rose and Gallante – won at Randwick, Leo had his best winning day for a long time. It worked.

Fire sales as Inglis heads west

Last week’s sale went as this column predicted. While Magic Millions, Classic, Melbourne and New Zealand were up about 20 per cent, Easter was down 2.5 per cent, weighed down by the large proportion of second-season stallions who just haven’t performed. It must also be said that NSW buyers were thin on the ground.

Gai was the second leading buyer, with 17 purchases. She bought the top lot – Winx’s half-brother – but interestingly of the top buyers had the lowest median of $200,000. A value shopper.

The Easter sale moves in two years to Warwick Farm. I’d have the races there each day of the sale to add some lustre to it. It would be a great synergy for the sales and racing.

I imagine there would be some concern that Magic Millions have recently opened a Sydney office at the old Sydney Showground, near headquarters. I have no doubt Magic Millions will have a competing sale there once Inglis are installed at Warwick Farm.

Queen Chiong

Non-racing people are great fans of female jockeys, often wrongly accusing connections of discriminating against them. It was marvellous to see female apprentice Kei Chiong win four races at Sha tin Sunday – a record.

The Sydney Morning Herald: April 11th 2016

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