Almanac Racing – Go Go Giddyup: a trip to Tatura to see a maiden

You’re taking a chopper? To Tatura? To see a horse race in a maiden?

Yes. Before you assume I’m a banker (or worse) allow me to explain.

For starters, it helps when a co-owner of your little three-year old filly runs a helicopter charter business. So when chief pilot Guy from Heli Experiences offered, I accepted: “Chopper!!!”

On the way from the hangar out onto the tarmac at Essendon Airport I restrain myself from doing my best Arnie-style “Get to da charwper”. In my state of excitement I forget to take any photographs. We head north towards Tatura. Past Craigieburn we start overtaking cars on the highway, we are doing about 200km/h. En route I watch the first race on my mobile phone. I give a hopeless call of the race into my microphone so the others can hear me through their headphones. The favourite goes down by half a head.

Over the lakes of Nagambie we could probably squint to see Euroa where Giddyup was bred (she was Subashi’s first foal, born at Blue Gum Farm) and the horse training oasis that is Lindsay Park. I drove to Euroa to pat her as a foal three years ago. Time flies. Giddyup’s sire, Churchill Downs was exported by Coolmore to Libya (not a great sign) and the progeny seem serviceable but not amazing. They are also late bloomers, so we still have hope for our little filly with the baldy face.

We land in the middle of the racetrack at exactly 2:15pm. The timing is strict as the stewards have allowed us to land between race 2 (favourite beaten 6 lengths) and race 3 (favourite beaten 5 lengths).

Three of us have come straight from work wearing suits and sunglasses. It’s 30 degrees. We are the strangest blokes at the track. Full stop. I don’t think we’re in Flemington anymore Toto. We eventually find the secretary’s office. You get a free drink, a sandwich and some jelly beans as an owner. It does not match the money needed to keep our horse fed and watered (let alone trained and vetted!).

Giddyup enters the mounting yard. She’s flighty, nervous and fighting the handler (is he even 14 years old?). To my eyes she’s way too toey. My co-owners seem completely unfazed. They tell me she’s fine. They tease me that I’ve spooked the horse. Guy reassures me, we certainly don’t want her to be asleep – the jockey will settle her. I have butterflies in my stomach. She has the best condition of all the runners in the yard. This is her fourth race start.

Dan places a $500 win bet with a bookie. “Is she your horse mate?” The suit is a dead giveaway. This apparently represents a huge betting plunge on track. By the time she jumps she’s the $2.50 favourite. The mozz is on. Who calls a horse Giddyup anyway? Every grandma across the country is putting on her 50 cents each way and the price is crunched.

Slowly away she’s forced wide. There’s not much Damian Lane can do. He takes her forward into second place. She looms at the turn. Giddyup is the first horse in which I have owned a share. I am still amazed at how high you can be before the race – full of adrenaline and with only one thought on the brain – the win. What I never anticipated was the extreme low when you see your horse in the straight and, whether she is running on well or not, as soon as you know she won’t win it is devastating. I go “blank-face”. That face where others see the word “DISAPPOINTED” tattooed across your forehead and ask “What’s wrong?”

The race is run. Giddyup sticks on well for second. At least she didn’t go backwards. Thank God she is not a “swimmer”. You immediately search your mind for excuses. You look to your co-owners. You look to the stable rep. Quick, over to the mounting yard to hear what Damian has to say. We don’t get many words from him but he seems to speak his mind. We’ll try her again over 7 furlongs.

$100 on the nose is lost. Add it to the training fees. We win about $3,000 in prizemoney. The monthly bill for Giddyup will be about twice that. Thankfully, I never joined the ownership group in the hope of “investment” or money-making. It is all for the joy of being involved in the sport I love most.

I reset my mantra. She must win the next race if she is any good. I forget what I said before Tatura. Next time she will race at Bendigo. Guy tells us not to get our hopes up for a helicopter ride every time the horse runs. I still hold dreams of her getting a run (yes, even just a run!) at Flemington. The buzz of such a day would make it all worthwhile. If she won I’d probably still take the train home.


  1. We lost some earlier comments in a web meltdown, Hoops.

    Any new word on Giddyup?

  2. Won her next start (1400m maiden at Bendigo) by 8 lengths!

  3. Brilliant.

  4. E.regnans says

    Just learned that Giddyup runs again on Monday 14th…

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