Michelle Payne is a great asset to racing and I like and admire her very much. I want her to be successful.
However, when you are publicly vocal on an issue (as she is), you must expect debate. Michelle had a lot to say about Sandown on Wednesday. She has publicly complained about Flemington and other tracks in the past.
May I gently point out; Michelle’s “walk” doesn’t match her “talk”?
This is her record or “walk”:
Michelle Payne TRAINER
Ran, GOOD 22
Ran, DEAD 58
Ran, SLOW 8
Ran, HEAVY 7
Scratched total 43
Scr, GOOD 8
Scr, DEAD 24
Scr, SLOW 5
Scr, HEAVY 6
This translates to:
Payne scratches on
Good… 36% of acceptors
This is typical of all the soft track-advocating trainers. Bart Cummings was the worst.
Lee Freedman and I were asked to discuss the tracks policy on Radio RSN late 2016. I stopped his argument quickly quoting his stats:
In contrast to those that like good tracks, they are huge “scratchers”. Outrageous to me. Could be on the ABC’s “Media Watch”!
Gai just lets them run.
As I have said to death:
Horses break down less on good tracks, punters bet more, turnover is higher, tracks stand up to racing better, and therefore costs race clubs much less. Good tracks are always much safer for jockeys. Should be an easy argument. Artificially soft tracks are the enemy of racing and its participants.
Hope Michelle thinks about it and realises she should welcome good tracks and not scratch on soft!
On Saturday, the Randwick track looked beautiful.
For race 1 to 5, horses near the fence and leaders dominated.
Then race 6, divine intervention seemed to occur, and the horses on the fence and leaders suddenly started going terribly, while those nearer the grandstand started storming over the top and winning. It was as though a switch had been flicked.
This is indicative of “track deterioration,” a problem I have talked about before in regards to the times that are run at Doomben in races over the same distances early and late on the card. The Randwick surface was official rated as a slow 7, but I think it was more in the heavy 9 or heavy 10 range. This is amazing considering we have had a run of amazing weather in Sydney, warm days and only 18mm of rain for the week. This is under an inch! When a track changes mid program, as it did on Saturday at Randwick, a lot of punters simply put the pen away. This decreases turnover, limits interest and takes away from our racing product that we are forever trying to improve. 18mm of rain shouldn’t flip a track on its head, and again I am taken back to my old pet hate of the overwatering of racetracks. I can’t help but think that 18mm of rain spread as nature intended over the expanses of Randwick would allow for an even track. But 18mm of rain added to spotty irrigation, with 70 or 80 horses most certainly can allow a track to deteriorate.
Gai has an apprentice in the stable at the minute named Quayde Krogh who is a capable rider. Yesterday in race 8, at Randwick Quayde rode a gelding named Pelethronius who had the top weight with 62.5kg less his claim of 3kg. I understand why trainers want to use apprentices with horses carrying around the 60kg mark – they see 60kg as an impenetrable barrier.
But with an apprentice comes inexperience and in a lot of cases “dead weight.” Quayde is listed at 49kg, which means on Saturday, Pelethronius was carrying 10.5kg of dead weight. Dead weight is not alive; it is not full of twitch-fibre-molecules that react and release energy to meet the energy expenditure demanded of the horse during racing. A gun hoop will move his / her weight on the wither up and down around 30cm repeatedly in the duration of being legged up, trotting to the stalls, and the few minutes of hard galloping that encompasses the race. The live weight advantage, with an experienced heavy rider moving up and down at the wither, adds up to a horse not having to dissipate its energy reserve in the case of the 59.5kg rider as much as it would with the 49kg rider plus the 10.5kg of dead weight. The dead weight does not function (as well) as “alive” weight and therefore the horse gets less relief from this dead weight than it would from the same amount of weight that is actually part of the rider’s riding weight. In this regard, dead weight could be twice as sapping as live weight.
Trainers sometimes expect miracles when using an apprentice; but while religious and political views can vary, the laws of physics are absolute. After physical law, everything else is optional!
Racing folklore is very important, and we often forget the foundations of which racing in Australia was built.
A Cup in Australia was always a handicap, and always a staying race. A town would have a black-type staying race (the Cup), and eventually the Melbourne Cup, and the Sydney Cup emerged with the growth of the cities and stood out and became feature races. It was with a slightly heavy heart that I noticed on Saturday, that there was the Randwick Mayors Cup run over 1100m. To make racing historians even more agitated was the fact the race was a restricted benchmark 77! This cheapens the word ‘Cup’ in racing and is sacrilege to be honest!