Crio’s racing: The metaphorical fan gets struck

Despite PR “pressers”, it is impossible to deny that Racing generates stories which can disappoint and even disturb. The best the publicity machine can do is keep on pumping out the “positives” – more on the retirement farm for ex-racehorses this week as well as research for horse welfare! – and then be grateful when the metaphorical fan gets struck off-peak.

Some old chestnuts recur. Horses break down or get sick. Highly promising Salon Soldier, winner on Cup Day at Flemington, died from a ruptured cecum this (Wednesday) morning. More alarmingly, jockeys get injured, even killed. Poor Kayla Nisbet had a weekend that mirrors the “game”. She was buoyant after steering one home at the Valley on Friday night. Then, given the responsibility of piloting a 5/2 on pop in the first at Caulfield on Saturday she got stuck in the nightmare Westgate traffic jam and missed the winning ride. As they say, you best get back on the horse….which she did; falling off one at gallops on Monday morning and now sidelined with a broken wrist!

Track conditions seem to be a perennial problem too. We’ve had the bogs of winter and now will have the “jarring” surfaces over summer. “Fast lanes”, leader bias etc will continue to be festering deterrents to punters. More alarmingly are incidents such as Tuesday’s when a Dead5 track was deemed by the jockeys as unsafe and the Ararat meeting subsequently abandoned.

Another story which almost grabbed the mainstream oxygen was the perplexing announcement last week of a feud in the Cummings camp and the imminent dissolution of the partnership forged by Grandad Bart and young protégé James. The possible firestorm has been doused – partly it seems that the family has gone “in house” and possibly the media worked out that consumers don’t want any bad Bart vibe at the sunset of his iconic career.

The story that has swallowed them all, though, is the web surrounding Bill Vlahos and, thus, BC3, the puntersclub and, of course, the “feted” Jimmy, Black Caviar’s brother. Men have been mumbling from the side of mouths that, as the witches inferred in Macbeth, things are not necessarily as they appear to be. “Ponzi scheme!” was the mail about the betting scheme/scam. Certainly the spider bite to “Jimmy” raised some eyebrows and now Inglis have declared that they’ve yet to be paid for the $5m yearling. Even way back at the auction there were – as, admittedly, is often the case – skeptics questioning the theatre. But the revelations of millions missing and people penniless – again the fascinating Yarrawonga trail – and the subsequent apparent fire/bashing of the main protagonist mean that we are in for some extraordinary revelations…and some nice links, via Pillar Of Hercules, back to a Mokbel connection to help Ch9 flog their Fat Tony “drama”.

It’s certainly testing the “Any Publicity Is Good Publicity” mantra that some advertising execs champion… and it should be acknowledged that RVL’s “Flying Squad” has had a positive impact where they can take effect. Betting syndicates, track maintenance, injury to horse and rider…these are not in their job description. The negativity can hurt…but can’t be denied, and maybe it suits people to paint “colourful” characters as shady and bizarrely creates a point of difference from slot machines.


Back on track we are facing a really busy period. Generally the standard of races falls away dramatically but there are hundreds of meetings held across the holiday period (a misnomer for trainers and riders) at all parts of the country. Xmas parties are the vogue right now and, whilst they don’t generate any turnover on-course, they help maintain the long time association of celebration and racing that has been integral to the sport since settlement.

As a “staffer”, I have to go to the metrop meetings when others seem so much more attractive – I mentioned when walking in to Caulfield last Saturday under clear skies and beautiful sunshine (and with modest fields assembled) how much more pleasant it would be at Avoca or Balnarring – but even those at far flung tracks try their hand at city Quaddies so we’ll continue in pursuit of a bonus from Flemington this Saturday with a quick glance at some prospects and hope for guidance in response:-

MR5- 1720m. I’m including 2 and 9 here. Any others?

MR6- 1200m. Not a bad race. 2 @ about 6/1. 13 @ 20+/1

MR7- 2000m. noteworthy here is the rider for Danny O’Brien’s Keep Cool – listed officially as Mr. Oisin Murphy (also on Eraset R4). Presumably this is the gun Killarney youngster escaping the jumps season to get experience out here – here’s some of his recent credits:

He’s a show here though 7 and 9 must go in all multis.

MR8- 1410m. Field.  As open as Victory’s backline. 2,3,perhaps a fluker 13,probably 15 amongst, as they say, a host of chances.

In Sydney, the time-honoured Villiers Stakes (SR6, G2, 1550m) headlines a surprisingly good card – most of which is Inglis sponsored! The feature is very even – 11 looks the best chance with 10 the roughie, but it is fraught punting against Waller/Snowden up there at present.


I can think of no logical reason, other than as worker or owner, to go to HQ on Saturday but the pub for the cricket/races/A-League – anything but Xmas traffic and “catch-ups” – seems a very sensible plan.

If there is any “moral” to the sensational revelations in the media this week, it is, again, that easy money is hard to get. Bet responsibly – and, hopefully, successfully.

Good luck!


  1. Tom reckons we should be looking for a winner in MR2 The Nowicki Carbone Handicap – a team of compensation lawyers with a “no win, no charge” motto.

  2. Crio, there was no more forlorn sight than Kayla Nisbet dragging her bag behind the odds on pop entering the parade ring, too late to ride.
    She rode a 4’s on pop in the first the next day at Tatura, (which got up).
    As for BC3, everyone loves a great racing sting,but this one is just a plain old scam, rumours were rife at the time that the price “paid” for ‘jimmy’ was a crock, the Inglis sales had a record number of lots passed in and they needed something to divert attention and get the chequebooks out.
    If it is found out that the horse was administered a potentially fatal substance in the hope of claiming the insurance, those responsible will not need to feign self inflicted injuries,there will be plenty of racing people eager to oblige.(see Laurie Connell and Rocket Racer)
    As for the dills that invested in the ‘punters club’…please!, Reminds me of those shocking ‘systems’ that were flogged in the ‘Truth’ and “Sporting Globe’. Anyone think of asking the question, ” If its so bloody good why are you flogging it’?, can someone pass on any of these financial wizards contacts, i’ve got a box of xray glasses and a case of sea monkeys i bought when i was 9 that i need to offload.

  3. Brilliant summary Crio – you have covered all bases and tackled the hard issues but the comments of Cowshedend top the lot and made me not only chuckle but bring back memories -made me think of some of the scams with stocks in the Stockmarket before ASIC came along
    At risk of popping my head over the trench again I am having something e/w on Jollys Friday twilight meeting runners at Oakbank- in hard races they should give a good sight and be around the money if my mail is correct
    (people in the game hate the late finishes but the Xmas punters will be there in party mode)
    You would have great memories of Easter at Oakbank eh Crio?
    Glad to see Jock has taken up the cause and is playing bowls
    I will try and catch up with you Cowshedend when next in Melbourne at our daughters and get a leave pass to go to the track

  4. Omen bet this week must be Loot n Run but not sure if it will be in Melb or Adel.

    Cowshedend: surely those xray glasses worked. Someone told me they advertised in the Truth at the end of Heartbalm but I struggled to get past Sam Fox page 3

  5. Oges, will have a squiz at the 3 Jolly runners at Oakbank..what’s his best? always thought Oakbank was an Easter only venue, how long have they been running the twilight?

    Jock..Sam Fox..brings back the memories..another classy feature of the Truth was the footy rap done by Jack Dyer in his column ‘Dyer Ere’

  6. Cowshedend have a small e/w on all as the mail is they will all give a good sight and I forgot to mention OLeary has taken Outlandish lad to Melbourne this time using a claiming apprentice
    They always have a twilight at Morphettville for the party crowd before Xmas but for the last few years there has always been one at Oakbank on the Friday a few weeks before (lot of horses that run around the bush race here)
    Oakbank at Easter is a South Oz institution though a huge gloom has now hit with the closure of Holdens

  7. Big forgive on Outlandish Lad last start. The professionals were backing anything from outside gates so he was doomed from his inside draw. The run was OK – the 2 in front of him ran1-2 again last week so form stacks up.

  8. Any Almanackers at the Cup lunch will be keen to hear that Oakleigh Girl runs again tomorrow. She’ll be fav for the MM.

  9. Crio,

    Yet again you manage to push the excitement buttons, post carnival(s) and all.

    Big day for Wiery on first thoughts. I like Spartini in the 3rd and Zabisco first up for his stable in the 5th. He’s shown ability at Flemington and I reckon he is a good each way chance.

    Pentire 4yo Prince Of Penzance has looked half special to me and he just about wins the last.

    If Darren Weir has a good day, then hopefully (if I don’t get tangled up in exotics) so should I.

  10. 1 bet only – SYSMO in the Villiers

  11. Thank God the weather was beautiful.
    Few bookies. Fewer punters. No collects.

  12. Kiss me Ketut squared meup for the day, but definitely not the day tohave much of a dip

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