Crio’s Racing

It was about this time last year that I devoted some space to celebrating that, though undeniably “off-broadway”, racing still managed to provide employment and thrills for vast numbers – the stakemoney is incredible and the generally large noms for a packed calendar provide plenty of jockeys and owners with moments to savour as well as keeping the wheels of our industry inexorably rolling.

But, for this year’s counterbalance… the reality is certainly far from rosy, with problems and misgivings at all levels of racing.

Let’s start with fatigue – now I’m not complaining as I rely on the weekly work to feed my habits and my son (should that be the other way around PB?). But mine is a casual Saturday commitment. For others, the daily grind is taking a toll. Part of the rationale behind Aquanita Racing was to free up trainers from the paperwork and documentation that was smothering them – yet, two of theirs have been quite public about the “black dog” and anyone in the game can list others for whom the personal cost has been high. Now, I accept that you can’t have it both ways – to service all the horses, breeders, tracks, let alone mortgages, there must be races. And there’s a “good quid to be made”. But daily? The problem, of course, is that we are stuck on a merry-go-round with seemingly no way off. As a kid, I remember the Trots ceasing for a few months – in SA there’d be a final meeting (Whyalla?) and then a break before a big return to Wayville. In the UK, of course, the jumping season gives the flat racers a hiatus without interrupting the gambling houses’ need for product. Because, unfortunately, this is the root of the problem – more and more, racing is just another part of the betting jigsaw and, if it conceded ground (even one day a week!), another will take its place and its dollars. Turnover is trumps. Sadly, racing costs a lot more to run than a slot machine – bloody people can be so inconvenient and expensive! – so it somehow has to do a lot of things right to justify a profile.

And, unfortunately, a lot is not being done well.

The tracks are a mess. Sandown’s cactus again. Ballarat had to close for a while, as have many others. The Valley was a disgrace last week – if you weren’t in touch at the school, you’d might as well have bailed at the North Hill.

On course patrons are shunned. Footy fans are spoilt next to the public “amenities” at racecourses – horrible and expensive food and drink (if you can find anything open) is the reward for being made to park at the 3 furlong post (HQ!), paying admittance (another joke) and taking “unders” in a lifeless betting ring. The solution, naturally, is to bet off-course where you’ll get a good TV coverage and be drooled over by predatory corporates – unless, of course, you are not a total mug, in which case you will be barred. Racing NSW is huffing and puffing about at least tackling this embarrassment – can’t wait to see how they go about it.

Bookies are nearly extinct. Racing crowds are sparse – as distinct from those who want to annually drink in a carpark or find a C-lister in a Harry-the-Hirer’s. We’re in strife.

But the band plays on, as it must….

…this week at despised Flemington. It is a typical mid-winter card. The various Series’ for different categories keeps racing extremely competitive as is once more the case on Saturday. There are 8 races to be contested – RV have decided that, as of next season, it will be 9 each Saturday, because, naturally, more is better! Remarkably, the wonderful Royal Ascot Meeting, held recently, maintains its ranking at the pinnacle by having just 6 contests each day, mostly 35 minutes apart – betting is spirited, interest intense and compressed, and then the focus can shift to shenanigans. To use a concert analogy, we’ve decided to play a longer set of worse songs.

On a weekend with few highlights, it would be to the Sunshine Coast that I’d most like to head for the big Caloundra Cup Day. But, really, it is only the setting and the dearth of other options that gives it top billing. Some of these “conveyances” have plenty of “priors”.

I’m sitting on my hands unless convinced otherwise.

Good luck!


  1. cowshedend says

    Brilliant piece Crio,amazing industry racing, full of very bright people that critique and lament the direction which the industry is headed, yet they let their own self interest dictate their decision making.
    Bookies were their own worst enemies,the relaxatin of the rule that they had to have their boards set 20 minutes prior, lazy buggers setting their prices straight off the tote screen, setting their boards at 130-150%.
    Betfair are setting at about 101-102% at the jump, for punters who have been fleeced for years it’s a no brainer.
    Ascot showed last week how to run a major event. For those on course a view down the mile long straight unimpinged by bloody sponsors marquees, a course broadcasting system that works, free wifi,commentators even cater for the once a year pleb by giving a horses major silk colour so they can identify them in the run.
    It’s all about the horses, whilst here the horses are secondary to the ‘event’.
    I love your bit about the Valley, and the idea of an exit ramp at the north hill, although most would be reluctant to take it due to the possiblity of being caught in the bar with that miserable prick Shane Templeton talking shit!
    Can’t believe your not giving an urge for your very stiff tip from last week Turfane, who butters up again.

  2. Don’t hold back boys. The horses are second this week as I head off for footy weekend trying to dodge the forecast rain hail and wind.With a promised lousy day weather wise Saturdayj I’m not tipping or betting

  3. You’re making sense Crio. Too much racing, poor quality fields, doesn’t tempt one to bet. I’m really unsure where/who to invest this weekend. Morphetville was tempting but Oges forecast makes me think again. I might focus on my Foot Multi Super. I’ve done OK on them recently, and might put the nags on the back burner, oh well at least until we get up to Corowa Monday week.


  4. cowshedend says

    first leg of the quaddy at HQ,Charmed Harmony going around odds on, may not have it so easy, if it goes like a cut cat out of the gates Aeratus will get the soft cart along on it’s back and get the last crack at it.
    With Aeratus at around 11/2 at the minute, will get a little bit of mine.

  5. Moving ahead to Monday i notice Wagga R5, the stayers race is over 19 furlongs; 3,800 metres. Not suprisingly none of the horses have covered this distance, though i note one recently won at Donald over 2930 metres. I’ll be working Monday so it’s academic to me, though i should be finished in time to invest in Waitaha Prophecy in the last.


  6. I’ve just gotten in from a big week and opened the Winning Post…it is actually freaky at how they’ve highlighted the same points as my rant (above) – bloody hell, Adrian Dunn even used “hiatus” in his article which challenged the constant calendar, in response to a Kennett call I’d not heard! The beyonbluespokesman also, according to Tony Kneebone, mentioned the toll that it is taking on the humans behind the Industry.
    The similarities are coincidental but indicative of the widespread unease at where this runaway train is heading.
    btw, my train is stopping at flemington tomorrow and given the awful forecast I reckon I’ll need a couple of collects before the good thing – after the last it will be time to stand in front of the fire in the Quiet Man for a pint of Guinness.

  7. Who’s ghosting for you lately? Making way too much sense!
    Turnover is king but surely we could give everyone Mondays off? What would that actually cost the industry dollar wise compared to the benefits for all participants. If it means a slight decrease in overall prize money, so be it.
    Good mail for Ringo at HQ tomorrow. It has been suggested that he is a genuine Group class horse so be told.

  8. Chalkdog says

    Note a race I had a look at at Ascot had 30+ noms. A few scratched made the final field still in high twenties. Whole meeting over in 4 and a bit hours. I see Saturday meetings in Sydney with regular NTD fields. Big picture is that Racing needs a boost for the 48 weeks that arent on the fun calendar.

  9. bad luck Budge. I found $12. Saw plenty of $10. Official flucs $8.5 to $5.5…3 more minutes and Ringo starts fav. Sadly, operation successful but patient died.

  10. The track raced well at Flemington yesterday and the fields were very good. I actually enjoy winter racing more than the spring at the track, when you cannot get a bet on anywhere or buy some food, so all is not gloom, at least for this punter. It would have been nice to see some heaters outside though. Aeratus looks a very likely type as does Vain Queen. Anyway, it was cold, but I still like a day at the track. Cheers, Paubai

  11. track raced really well, Paul, uuhindered by artificial watering. The fields hold a terrific winter standard at Flemington thanks to remarkable prizemoney and a great range of series races. Come down to the Rails, though, and see the “premiere betting ring”…a disgrace. 14 bookies including the paddock. Maybe 30 punters. No food or drink outlets, nor shelter. 2 televisions. As you note, that is still preferable to the spring week flogs!
    I assume you were in the Hill – it is a great view and facility.
    I, too, still like a day at the track. We are in the minority and not being seduced by the VRC who have it too easy or are simply disinterested.

Leave a Comment