Crio’s Racing: 23 July 2011

Flemington hosts its last meeting for Season 2010/11 this Saturday and, for those few stalwarts in the wind tunnel of a main ring and for the Paddock bookies, it will be a ghost town as the VRC continues to make its money whilst the foundations of our “game” crumble.

An empty ring has meant not much “bag” work on-course any more – outside of Spring – but I dropped in for a couple of races a fortnight ago. Cold. Deserted. Bereft of atmosphere.

As a novelty – and escape – I went in to the Members’. Up the escalators. Through bars and paneled spaces filled with good folk in their finery. Like an artist’s impression. Functions galore. Horses very much incidental. Young Members arriving very late for cocktails and a bus shuttle to an “event”.

With about 30,000 members propping up the Grandstand and the Cup week bounty assured, from behind the “rabbit-proof fence” – as my uncle coined it – all seems rosy.

Soon bored, I went off to the Laurel in Mt Road for the last. The bar was humming. Live footy and races on the TV. Fresh pots and parmas aplenty. Punters launching at anything. These, I reflected, were the blokes who once filled the betting ring. The lost demographic. The disenfranchised. Here they could be comfortable. They need not travel, pay admission or cop an $8 can or a lifeless plastic cup. No futile search for food outlets, TV screens or even footy scores was needed. None of these guys and girls had even pondered going to the track. If they want a bet, there are TAB facilities and Betfair on the iphone.

Racing, I suspect, has lost its heartland. By becoming so alike other betting mediums, it is just another betting commodity – and a really expensive one to run and to administer. Other sports are betting competitors….even on-line cards and “Trackside” phantom races.

Of course, it’s an even direr situation away from HQ. I was at Sandown yesterday (Wednesday). Nine bookies. About as many punters! Just three bookies at Ballarat last week. Apart from premium Cups, it is in freefall. I think this is a great shame. Many – the Clubs included it appears – seem not to care.

A day at the races has – or had – a unique character. You don’t have to punt but the bookies, their jargon and the odds are as embedded as the silks and squeaks of the hoops and the sideways squeezing from the edge of the mouths of touts.

But the upside is that we can “get on” wherever and whenever we want. I doubt I’ll get down to Flemington but will still cast an eye over the Quaddy of what is actually a pretty decent mid winter card.

I might try for a bank with an interest on Right Fong in R4. He has got a few convictions these days, but this is his track. 4th up and 1800m should be a chance for him to show his wares.

In the first leg I’ll be including Galileo Gold (5), on which Craig Williams is booked for old Cranbourne mentor Doug Harrison. 2 and 8 are others to include.

Race 6 is a flying! Wilander, Warm Love…plenty of pace and a quality race. Definitely Ready and Tollesprit will have their supporters. Go wide – 1,2,3,5 and any shorteners.

5,6,7 might cover R7, but the last is especially tough. The early money has all been for Gossip Girl (8) but it will be “unders”. The value could be the 9.

Good luck with any investments. Next time we are at Flemington (06/08 Aurie’s Star Handicap) it will be the start of the Carnival countdown. Of course, Cup week will be sensational. Racing in some form will survive. We’ve got great horses, good tracks and, I hope, an entrenched culture.

But, season by season, its foothold is being eroded.



  1. david butler says

    Crio, with the lack of bagmen and punters on track these days what do the callers mean when they talk about a big go for a certain horse ? I normally sit at home with Betfair and Mark Read’s website open and watch the odds that way.

  2. There are a few answers to that one JB.
    Sometimes it is just hype….corporate spin courtesy of the corporate bookies.
    Often it is a combo of factors, with horses being packed off course pre post and further shortening on course. A significant amount of the wagering gets back to the track, especially since top flucs and SP odds are determined there.

  3. Crio,

    Can you believe this. I can’t.

    Race 7 No 13 at Morphettville on Saturday 30 July is trained by ROY ROGERS and ridden by DALE EVANS. For anyone of my era, the famous TV cowboy Roy Rogers, was famously married to a woman called none other than Dale Evans. I’m beside myself. Unfarginbelievable!

  4. Careful, Elvis. Trigger had those blond good looks (any pal-o-your-know is a palomino) but he never looked that fast – unless there was a filly around.

  5. Peter B,

    You hear me. I actually looked up D Evans the jokcey on the Racing Victoria website as I thought it was a joke . But he exists. Dale Andrew Evans.

    What’s next? Trainer First Bloke ridden by J Gillard!

  6. PeterB,

    What about Trainer R Hudson: Ridden by G Pyle.

    The best graffiti I ever read was in a toilet in Fremantle in the 80’s. It read “Aids hits Rock’s bottom”


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