Crio’s Racing: Crystal Web worth a look

At this time of year I search for exotic locations of meetings around the country and dream of being there rather than in the wind tunnel that is the (mostly uncovered) main betting ring at Flemington…. Headquarters indeed! A fortnight ago, a couple of blokes collected and I suggested they escape the wet and cold and retire to watch the Interstate racing in the bar. They replied that they’d been asked to leave the bar (R2) as it was being locked due to lack of patronage. No coffee stand. No food stall…this, I repeat, in the punting epicentre. I meekly suggested they could go to the Hill Stand. They more directly implied they’d make their goodbyes to the course forever and retire to a nearby pub! The Members’, of course, still has really good facilities and if you intend to come along to the time-rusted Andrew Ramsden Stakes meeting (the “other” 2 miler – formerly the Duke of Norfolk) try to organize an upgrade. It is not hard to do.
Little wonder, then, that I yearn to be elsewhere enjoying the “real” experience this Saturday. Take a look at fixtures and try to get out of town for a country or bush day sometime soon.
Too late now to plan for the 2012 Tennant Creek Cup (1600m, $17,000, forecast max mid 20s) for example, in which Mick Whittle, unsurprisingly, has a runner, Granzig (3). Whittle, a G1 winning trainer at Flemington, takes his team to far flung places and invariably finds a winner.
Or maybe another year it would be fun to try the interestingly named Home Hill races, “the best little country race club in Australia”. Under the auspices of the Burdekin Race Club and about 100kms south of Townsville, they host 5 meetings annually. This, the “Growers” Day (scattered showers, 27), is only for those 18 yrs and over…the mind boggles!…perhaps a sealed section in the racebook?
Also in Queensland, and especially for Labor historians, you could head the 6 or 7 hrs inland from Rockhampton for the Barcaldine races (6 meetings per year) in Qld’s central west.,_Queensland Love the names of the events – Vet Services H’cap; Welding Works Plate; Western Freight Link Plate; Mobil Café H’cap, Race Club QTIS Maiden.
Sentimentally, I see the Mt Gambier Cup Carnival straddles the weekend. Traditionally in the first week of June, we’d head down to The Mount for, if I recall correctly, 3 days of midweek racing….with Sandy Roberts’ Leanne Cock story being the infamous remnant from those great days. Now they’re plumping for a Friday Cup and a Sunday “support”. The Cup (AR8, 2400m) has dual ‘Bool Cup champ Hissing Sid as topweight and horses like Texas Warney, Swooper and The Black Oak as testament to its depth. It’s also a strong Carnival for jumps horses and punters should pay heed to the results.
But reality dictates that I’ll be suited up at Flemington, where there are a few interesting entries and races. Crystal Lily’s half-brother, Crystal Web, a debut winner at Sandown mid-weeker, will attract interest in the first (MR1, No1). Bookmakers will then scour the sparse crowd for C. Down, whose relatively modest investment on Cool God triggered an avalanche of support at Warrnambool. He ran a competitive 3rd and here steps up to Listed company in the time-honoured Gibson Carmichael Stakes (MR2, 1600m). Bracket his 4 with 2 and 6.
The Quaddy starts with the Listed 1200m race, still pleasingly simply called The Straight Six (MR5). Stratcombe (6) has hit a purple patch and looks to be the measuring stick.
The two-miler (MR7, 3200m) has had a chequered history but, with its qualification clauses for “The Big One” it can produce a good winner. Last year’s, Niwot, was backed off the map in the Cup, was (I think) 1st Aussie home, and has subsequently won a Sydney Cup. Some critics, though, view it as a bit of a “jumpers’ flat”, a view enhanced by the likely good prospects of Smerdon’s smart hurdler Kirribilli Gold. I’ll take the opportunity to get a coffee and have a snack during the marathon.
Another “off season” highlight, the Winter Championship also returns to Flemington with a 1400m heat (MR7). These are always really competitive fields. Look for a leader.
The main meeting nationally, as is always the case for the next few weeks, is in Brisbane. Manighar headlines the featured G1 Doomben Cup (BR7, $500,000, WFA, 2000m). I notice that Peter Morgan has snuck the highly rated Amah Rock up there for a G3 1350m race (BR6, No9). An Almanac fav, we’d better have something on him. Another fascinating acceptor is Darren Weir’s Wealth Princess (BR4, No3), narrowly beaten last time in the Wangoom, her first run for 2 years! There are races here that will be good pointers to bigger prizes ahead, such as the Doomben 10,000 and The Oaks. Pay heed.
For all of my complaining, I’m still looking forward to being at the races on Saturday. I need to remind myself that I’m being paid to go to Flemington…a dream as a kid. The experience, of course, will be all the more enjoyable if we can snaffle some winners.
Tips please!
And, if you make it out there, I’ll be calling bets on the front bag for Lillis&Kilmartin on the Rails. Come up and say g’day.
Good luck!


  1. Crio you are getting nostalgic. Come and join the “grey nomads ” and a world away from the city, where race meeting abound. Just back from Tassie where I went to Devonport and saw the new Tapeta synthetic in action. This will come in handy during the winter when Hobart is often waterlogged. A north coast trainer was quoted as saying “Its about time they got used to travelling as we have done it for years (4 hours trip one way).

  2. Someone told me this morning that I was underselling the Brisbane races….that it is a really good card. I don’t deny its strength; clearly the best meeting in Australia. I just reckon that, Manighar aside, most of the good ‘uns will be in better races over the next month. This is a good preview.

    The other G1 racing in our region comes from Singapore on Sunday evening. It is a bumper card featuring the KrisFlyer (no Rocket Man this year) – is that the one Takeover Target won? – and the Singapore Cup. All races on TVN.

  3. Yes Crio, Niwot was the first local home in the 2011 Melbourne Cup. Ridden by D Yendall, he came 8th, or 9th.

  4. Timely mention of Mick Whittle. I see Roman Arch recently became the 3rd Australian Cup winner to die in the last couple of weeks.

  5. Roman Arch was a funny horse. It was either win or tail of the field. Did Robbie Laing train him ?


  6. Mick Whittle, as Budge said. Remind me one time to tell you about Mick’s alleged acceptance speech for the Kimba Cup one day.

  7. Sorry Glen…Robbie Laing also!

  8. There’ve been enough articles recently about winners and Champions… Black Caviar’s winning streak and tales of other great winners.
    Here’s a different angle.
    Betfair are promoting G. Boss going to Mildura (Cup Day Sunday) to ride “Australia’s worst racehorse” – Vote For Lust, in his 87th attempt to break maiden status.
    Just like the horse itself, the name appears interesting but is ultimately very disappointing – by Voting out of Lust For Spring!

    It’s got me thinking about some other celebrated “failures” of the racecourse. Was it Oureone which gained notoriety a few year back?

  9. Oureone was a celebrated failure. I believe it “retired” a maiden though it used to run in some decent races and might even have run 3rd or 4th in a stakes race in Sydney. She was around 20-30 years ago.

  10. Re interesting horsie names, was there a runner in the 1970’s called Argus Tuft? Or am i imaging this?


  11. From Crio: Click this shortened link to read the article regarding Winning a ride on Vote for Lust:

  12. Skip of Skipton says

    crio, there was a horse Make Up Lady about 20 years ago that was trained by Ray Nelis at Geelong and ridden by Terry Barry, a tiny old mate from high school who we could fit in a school bag and zip it up.

    Make Up Lady was a handy horse, stakes-placed I think, who became notorious for running second. At one point she had 3 or 4 wins to her name alongside 22 second placings, and maybe a couple of thirds. A Current Affair TV show did a piece on her at the time.

  13. Skip Of Skipton,

    Just looked up Make Up Lady on the Stud Book site. No race record there, but she left a stakeswinner, Little Dozer, and she was out of a half sister to Stainvita. But that’s a whole other story.

  14. Crio, Budge,

    Doomben is a pretty good card in my humble. Morgan has 2 in including the impressive Amah Rock. He took Jessies Girl up there a couple of years ago and she ran very well. Peter doesn’t travel often, but when he does, respect.

    Noticed an ex Williams horse in the 3rd. Vesper. Its WFA with quasi WFA horses entered. First up last time in he ran 4th at WFA in the G2 PB Lawrence???) to Whobegotyou and Lights of Heaven, beaten 2.3. L Nolen on. Something at odds($31)

  15. Stainvita. A salient tale. Always think of the Slug!
    Similarly Slug comes to mind when referencing habitual 2nds – I remember the tin-arse taking something one-out for 2nd in a winning Trifecta! And giggling as he collected, of course.

    Elvis – shall I ruin Budge’s night and tell him that Lady Lynette (which we all thought had retired after the fateful protest at MV) is going around at the good Scone meeting tomorrow?

  16. Crio,

    Don’t mention Lady Lynette. I did once and I think I got away with it. She’s having her first start for the Soprano / Gotti training partnership.

  17. Make Up Lady was a brown mare foaled in 1984 and retired in 1994. She was by the notorious Paint The Stars out of Cerrevite. Her race record reads 94 starts, 10 wins, 26 seconds, 9 thirds for $209,630. Lisa Irwin (?) and the great H. White each rode her once and Robert Heffernan twice (including a win), with T.Barry up in the rest of the races and places. 4th of 16 behind Let’s Elope at HQ during her golden Spring of ’91 reads well.

  18. Skip of Skipton says

    crio, Lisa Irwin was a Geelong jockey and a cousin of an old girlfriend. I remember Little Dozer who was a Bendigo horse? He could give some cheek on his day. Paint the Stars was the first million dollar yearling or some such. Holmes a Court bought him. I remember listening to his first race when I was a kid and he ran stone motherless. There was much hype about it.

  19. Hope Lisa didn’t tag you Little Dozer?!
    I somehow seem to recall $825k as Paint the Stars’ cost…an obscene amount then, and proven thus.

  20. Skip, Budge, Elvis, Oges, Glen et al…
    Just looked back over this thread….gee we’ve covered some topics1 You were prescient Oges; nostalgia rules!

  21. Skip of Skipton says

    crio, Lisa Irwin’s cousin was stinkin’ hot, but trouble; the only thing she knew about the game was that Lisa Irwin was her cousin, and that Granma used to put a dollar each way on her rides. Same as Terry’s granny.

    You may well be right about Paint the Stars being an $825K purchase. You know what I mean.

  22. The $825K price tag for Paint the Stars certainly fits my recollection. Wasn’t it owned by Robert Holmes a’Court?

    Earlier in the thread there was a reference to quirky names of thoroughbreds. Richard Cranium somehow made it past the registration process.

  23. The Cranium was a Kiwi so perhaps not inappropriate!

    Years back I used to work some of the picnics where we’d have to “texta” our own fields. I never wearied of using block letters for Quick Flick…always a cheap laugh. There was another one, too, which is unprintable here (think Milne).

  24. Query on Crystal Web in the first today??…the stablemate has been backed from $15 in to $4.80 fav!

    Also, has Stratcombe drawn awkwardly in 1 down the straight? They rarely rail, usually use the middle of the track and occassionally come “under the roses”.

  25. Budge,
    We’d better have something on MR2 No1 Bay Flyer.
    It races in the Glenelg colours, is trained by Bay supporter John Hawkwes and is owned by some Tiger luminaries, including David Holst, Bryce Gibbs and Scott Salisbury.
    (sorry, put this on the wrong thread before!)

  26. Being a North supporter I shudder at the thought of the Bays after 73 and some 80s finals.

  27. Its now 39 years since the famous 73 GF win of the Bays and that was 39 years after the previous premiership in 1934. Could be an omen…

  28. David Downer says


    Happy with our mate Amah Rock’s run, solid effort first time that way.

    I missed the Doomben Cup and await the replay, but note the winner Mawingo. Looks like we have our next international recruit to make a serious tilt at the Cups.

    Today’s racing highlight is yet to arrive of course. The world’s best rated horse, Frankel, returns at Newbury tonight, 12:40am our time.

  29. Good get DD…you are the man now for England racing. I’ll have to miss the race tonightr as i plan to sleep between the Dogs winning and Chelsea playing!

  30. Skip of Skipton says

    The Freedmans are doing well with these German stayers. Where’s Lucas Cranach? I will be setting the alarm for 4am. Bayern Munich should cane Chelsea, espescially getting to play on their home patch. But you never know. Who would have thought they would get past Barcelona? Torres is due. Drogba is my favourite. Is Terry playing or did he get rubbed out for that dirty behind play kneeing?

  31. Terry was, rightfully, flicked…a gutless act.
    Both defences are shot…see the excellent feature preview in The age this morning.

    Anthony Freedman is doing very well. Manighar needs a spell.

  32. Skip of Skipton says

    Manighar did a fantastic job this autumn, crio. The Australian Cup, The Rawson, and the Tancred. That’s a triple crown pretty much. I hate good races being re-named for sponsors, as you can see.

  33. Any interest in the Singapore races?
    I’ve got to say that it is a racing free day for me tomorrow, though I think Randwick and Mornington support the Mildura Cup day.

  34. David Downer says


    I’ve just taken up a Racing Post (UK) website subscription with access to all the form notes, videos etc, so trying to arm myself best possible for the trip. Will stay up tonight for Frankel.

    With international hat still on, we also have the Preakness tomorrow.

    Have been trying to convince GlennB that Bodemeister was slaughtered in the KY Derby, but he ain’t buyin’ it! Let’s see how he fares tomorrow, hopefully sans a breakneck pace. Think it’s around 8:15am, not sure if it’s televised anywhere here. Maybe ESPN if not Sky 2 /Sky World?

  35. Great reminder DD.
    US racing just doesn’t get a profile here…though i remember Dad getting us to listen to Tobin Bronze’s race oh so long ago.
    Remind me to give you some Brit contacts pre-Ascot

    On less of a downer, Craig Down’s Cool God will go for a spell after floundering in the Listed Gibson Carmichael today. Big first prep. Will hopefully furnish in to a nice horse.

  36. Good one David getting knowledge of the “Poms”.horses and racing over there
    More tips for us “victims”
    Crio – was it a pretty lack lustre day yesterday at the track?

  37. David Downer says

    Cheers David O,

    A spectacular running of the Preakness just then, the KY Derby winner I’ll Have Another again just nabbing the valiant front-runner Bodemeister. Daylight third. These two building a super rivalry. He slowed the pace up front this time, but the winner proved his worth. Triple Crown is alive!

    Frankel did what he had to do. Impressive looking animal! Great to see him pulling a crowd over there, not quite of the manic BC variety, but the hype between the two of them will be absolutely pumping once she hits ye’ auld shores. Can’t wait for it!

  38. Budge – sorry forgot to mention the Bays. Both North and the Bays will have to improve this year to be a threat.Basset has Norwood firing and is a “darling of the media”

  39. Skip of Skipton says

    Just watched the Preakness on youtube. Brilliant. I’ll Have Another has a good dose of staying blood in his pedigree, too. 34 year drought looks about to end.

  40. Skip – I think it is 11 who have tried and failed in the 3rd leg since Affirmed so don’t count your chickens yet.

  41. When’s the last leg?

  42. Skip of Skipton says

    In three weeks. This horse is the real thing. He was three wide all the way until the turn, Bodemeister ran slower sectionals than in the Derby and he still finished over the top of him.

  43. Thanks Skip.
    Speaking of the “real deal”, just saw James McDonald steer another one home, this time in Singapore. How do you reckon he rates with Kiwi hoops past and present?

  44. 1 B. Thomson
    2 J. Cassidy
    3. M. Walker
    4 J. McDonald

    probably missed some obvious ones!

  45. I was confident, Budge, that you’s plump for G. Childs or did Sunline steer herself?
    Before Mc Donald, O.P. Bosson has the huge wraps but has not quite kicked.
    The Kiwis rate Lance O’Sullivan…perhaps for staying there.
    Can we count Paddy Payne as a Kiwi? If so, he would be one of the best.

  46. David Downer says


    …as I cower for cover with rotten tomatoes being hurled in my direction

  47. anyone of our vintage can vividly picture the mud-splattered and huge ears of a grinning R.J.Skelton returning on Van Der Hum

  48. G Willetts kicked on after originally coming over with Battle Heights, I think.

  49. Linda Jones!

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