Anyone who has sought my advice over Autumn racing will understand why I’m saying that the punting purse is very low. Since I am not in a tipster’s club or Quaddy team, there is every possibility that they could “go around” without me at Caulfield this Saturday. The only “early mail” I have thus far for Caulfield (its now Thurs night) has been LB’s declaration of E/W R7 No9 Spirited Halo. LB’s hospitalised at the moment so will be having a forensic look at the form. He’s a terrific judge of horses but couldn’t tip a topless waitress…nevertheless its all I have!

Melbourne and Sydney will revert to standard Saturday class stuff for a while now and the spotlight will shine elsewhere.

Adelaide, for example, have rejigged their calendar and are presenting a feature meeting this Sunday, wedged post-AJC and before Brisbane’s ever-growing Winter Carnival moves in to gear.

Unoriginally titled Super Sunday, it is nevertheless an attempt to find a place on a congested sportscape and let’s hope that it is a success. They’ve got the Oaks and Cup earlier in the year and now run the Derby, Goodwood and some strong support races this weekend. With the “Showdown” Saturday, it is a real opportunity for Adelaideans to host a top notch meeting and, being Sunday, they’ll have the top trainers and riders there to embellish the occasion.

I’ve only seen the fields online but there appears to be great variety and depth to the card and serious punters are encouraged to grab the form (Winning Post will have it) and bet with confidence on one of Australia’s best racecourses.

Kav’s taken some over and his strike rate in SA is phenomenal. Zantelagh kicks off his main hopes in the 1800m 3yo fillies’ Auraria Stakes. The Goodwood is always an excellent race and I’m tempted to try Very Discreet down in the weights in an even field. From my scanning, D.K. Weir has just the one runner which must be a pointer given that he sends so many in to the Western Districts in a busy next week…but My Central (R5 No11) was a solid second in the last at Sandown on Saturday and must be a show in this.

A little punting theory of mine is that the famous “Stubby” Holder rides a value winner at the Adelaide Carnival, so for this reason alone I’ll snip R4 No11.

Of interest also this week are Cup Carnivals at Alice Springs and at Wagga Wagga. Alice would be good fun but Wagga is that and more – plenty of good horses come from the region and the better races are highly sought amongst prominent trainers.

The major racing action this forthcoming week, though, is undoubtedly the 3-Day Warrnambool Carnival. This year’s meeting will be under enormous scrutiny as critics look to bash the jumps fraternity and locals seek to protect their product which means so much historically, economically and socially to the district.

It must overcome these challenges. I am very excited at the prospect of my first ‘Bool – the Brierley, the Galleywood, the Wangoom, The Grand Annual – it feels like I’ll step in to a living museum, but I’ll need plenty of Lucozades and luck to get through.

Mark “Makybe” Freeman has an invitation for all readers to join us for this great Australian sporting institution (see elsewhere on this site) and I am confident that massive crowds will again show this to be an indispensable part of our thoroughbred year…A Grand Annual.


  1. mark freeman says

    Yes Crio, punting stash is v thin o’er here as well. In fact, whoever thought that the tax office would come through for us? After stuffing up everyone’s tax returns since the beginning of the year, they’ve finally delivered five months late… just in time for the Bool!! Oh thank you Ken Henry, saviour of the mug punter.

    Cheers, and we’ll see you this week out west Crio. And punters, if you’re coming out, give us a call, number on the other Bool yarn.


  2. Tip, of course, should read Spirited Hero.

  3. Crio,
    Yourself and LB are obviously very influential tipsters- Spirited Halo is $12 to $5 on Sportsbet.

  4. sorry -yes its Spirited Hero

  5. Peter Flynn says

    Can’t wait to see them jump over the Mantrap.

    The Grand Annual could be the strongest renewal in years.

    See you there.


  6. 2 divisions of the maiden hurdle amongst the 10 races Tuesday!

  7. mark freeman says

    Boys if any of the anti-jumps campaigners approaches you, here is a great argument for the caper from a Monash Bio-ethicist that was published last August.


    Strong ethical case can be made for jumps racing

    David Muschamp
    The Sunday Age
    August 16, 2009

    UNLESS contrary decisions are made, 21 more jumps races will be held by the end of September. Of these, 15 will be run on country tracks and six in the city, at Sandown. At the current rate of fatalities – 10 in 71 races and one in a jumps trial – there will be two or three more jumping deaths this year.

    Opposition to hurdles and steeplechase races – reflected and perhaps enhanced by protests on tracks, letters and articles and photographs in newspapers, and reports on television – has maintained its strength. There was also a small and rowdy protest in State Parliament on July 29. Supporters of jumps racing have reason to feel that what they regard as part of a good way of life is threatened by protesters and that Victoria will follow the bans in force in NSW and Tasmania.

    In July last year, Racing Victoria Ltd engaged retired judge David Jones to review jumps racing in this state. His 200-page report shows that each case – ”ban the jumps” or ”retain the jumps” – requires a more sophisticated set of supports than has so far been produced in the marketplace.

    Clearly, the matter has important connections with ethical as well as social and economic issues and is therefore best discussed with the cool appraisal lacking in the statements of either the ban or retain camps, both of which seem not to have progressed much past slogans.

    In my opinion, a strong ethical case can be made for the retention of jumps races. In this instance, as with most moral matters, it is good to inquire about the nature and consequences of actions and activities. Thus: how are jumps races conducted? What are their benefits, what are their costs? Who or what would benefit from banning them, who or what would be harmed by a ban? Can the benefits be increased, the harms reduced? Given that there are indeed risks involved, can they be decently regarded as acceptable in all relevant circumstances?

    According to a report by consulting group IER, incorporated in the Jones’ review, there are in Victoria more than 26,400 registered owners of thoroughbreds, 562 of whom own horses eligible for jumps races. More than half the 1200 licensed trainers are permitted to prepare horses to race over jumps and they spend more than $4 million in training these horses. Of the 220 registered jockeys, 54 ride solely in trackwork and jumps races. About $23 million, 4.3 per cent of the annual total of $518 million outlayed on racing in Victoria, is spent on jumps racing*.

    The biggest perceived harm in jumps racing is serious injuries and especially fatalities to jockeys and horses. Because jockeys choose their profession, a ban on their way of life and livelihood would be likely to harm their interests. It is the possibility of harm to the horses that most distresses people – banners and retainers alike. A horse fatality occurred in Victoria from 1986-93 once in every 220 races on the flat (0.03 per cent as a percentage of starters), once in every 17 hurdle races (0.6 per cent) and once in every nine steeplechase races (1.1 per cent).** These figures differ slightly from counterparts in Britain, which in 2006 conducted 3380 jumps races. There, the corresponding fatalities were 0.7 per cent for flat races, 0.512 per cent for hurdle races and 0.723 per cent for steeplechases, which suggests either that more can be done to reduce risks in Victoria or that such figures are rather rubbery.

    Beneficiaries of jumps racing in Victoria – those who would in various ways and different degrees be most harmed by banning – include some racing clubs, especially eight country clubs, jockeys, trainers, owners, some spectators and the horses involved. The horses involved? Really? Yes.

    Owners and especially trainers and jockeys of these horses say and can show that many of them cannot pay their way as flat runners and hence, to put it bluntly, would be sent to the knackery and turned into pet food. What else could generally be done? Expenditure on a horse in training varies between about $10,000 and $30,000 annually. The same animal properly cared for in a paddock costs about $1000 a year. Unless it is ridden for pleasure or provides other rewards for its owner, it is hard to justify such amounts when there are so many other needs and opportunities in the world.

    Some horses, though marginal or worse on the flat, excel over jumps. Such a one is Pentiffic, winner of the Hiskens Steeplechase. According to trainers Fran Houlahan and Brian Johnston he is “hopeless on the flat. He gets bored, he doesn’t want any part of it. But put a fence in front of him and he loves to leap over it” (The Sunday Age, July 26). Best-case example? Of course, but one of many for whom no jumps may mean no life. If such horses could choose, wouldn’t they accept the one per cent per race risk of death and 99 per cent probable benefits of stabling, food and nurture by usually devoted people?

    But horses can’t choose, says the ban camp. Indeed not; a horse is a horse, of course, of course, and while many may talk to the horse, the most that will be received by the equine will be a comfortable feeling. The one per cent risk of death cannot be dreadful to a horse because it cannot know of the risk. If death does come, it is swifter and more painless than the deaths we inflict on sheep and goats and pigs and cattle and fish and fowls to which cruelty in life and in death is horridly usual. Section 9(1)(c) of the extensive Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (1986) makes it an offence to do an act that causes unreasonable pain or suffering, or which is likely to cause unreasonable pain or suffering to an animal. A one to two per cent risk seems to be a risk less than likely and decently acceptable.

    Perhaps special and uniquely deep distress to third party ”banners” over the death of a racehorse but not of, say, a cow is natural and understandable. The horse is identifiable by name, racing history, pedigree and how it looks. It may have been written about in a newspaper, talked about on radio, in the pub. Money may have been won or lost in betting on its success. So a racehorse, and not a cow, may be to some extent public property whose career is shared, even if thinly, by many. An only so slightly bogus intimacy, almost proprietorial, can arise in the hearts and minds of many, including the ”banners”. The people who feed and groom and work with the horse twice or more every day really do have a close relationship as far as this is possible. The concern of these people for the welfare of the horse is usually of deep and sometimes lasting significance to them. Talk of cruelty is as insulting as it is false.

    There are huge evils in the way humans have treated and still do treat millions of animals. Poultry and pigs and breeding bitches are crowded into cages, sheep and cattle are loaded onto ships for export to brutal Dhabiha, halal, slaughter. Whales are killed slowly by exploding harpoons, fish are left on boat decks to flap their lives away, drowned by air.

    People who are concerned about animal welfare and who are distressed by the extent of cruelty in Australia and throughout the world have a hideously large number of difficult and ethically charged tasks to attend to. Jumps racing is not one of them.

    David Muschamp has been director of Monash Ethics Consultancies. He is now an ethicist in private practice.

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