Crio’s Racing: All Points North


Happy bloody New Year indeed!

If you are amongst the few who brave the blizzards and come to the Valley on Saturday, you’ll pass a line of despondent losers on the bag along the rails – feet shufflers conceding that they’re there for the quid.

It is not where most of us prefer to be, as we were reminded last weekend when the day’s chorus was “Darwin next week!”.

My envy really kicked in on Tuesday, the preferred travel day for me. I’d have started my week with a day at The Gardens, one of the truly beautiful cricket grounds, where that night’s news reminded me that Phil Hughes had bludgeoned a limited overs double ton. The northern winter gets some good cricket, this year hosting “A” teams from Australia, Sth Africa, India and an Australian “National Performance Squad” side in a Quad series. Marrara is functional but the Gardens, opposite the famed Mindil Markets site, is magnificent.

Three meetings at Fannie Bay offer me a chance to subsidise a holiday. Wednesday’s is very lowkey (on results today very good for the bookies). Saturday’s Palmerston Sprint is the pick of the Carnival. The visitors are in town, they bet across the nation, but the associated Cup Day schmuk is not attendant.

Even over a couple of years, I’ve seen Darwin’s Cup Day change. You’ve only got to look at the ads in the main street which mimic “southern” promos – get dressed, be fashionably blind in a marquee.

What a shame. I was struck by the singular appeal of a very NT experience at my first Cup – “multis” shoulder to shoulder with local battlers, in shorts and bad shirts and nursing stubby holders. The betting was fair dinkum. The atmosphere convivial.

Pound for pound, the Monday was the best looking punters I’d ever enjoyed – southerners, backpackers and locals flush with a sun’s glow, scrubbing up in best shorts, singlets and thongs (as well as casual footwear!).

Last year, of course, would have been terrible. Simone Montgomerie’s fall and death rocked the Industry and presumably a pall will hover over the Anniversary. It was a sesnsitive situation over which to be critical, but I did reckon at the time that the Jockeys’ Trust should have profited more from the generosity resulting from that terrible incident. Instead, the massive fundraisers directed to the Montgomerie cause might not be much use to the inevitable subsequent hoops who are injured or worse. Maybe they can use this year to focus more broadly on safety and assistance and thus reach those who are hurt at less high profile meetings.

Saturday is, as mentioned, always pretty good (and only 6 races!). The Sprint (R6, 1200m) will be a strong betting race. The Thief (2) won first up at Flemington and then came second there to the flying Vain Queen. That is very impressive credentials but then he got rolled next run at WFA in Darwin by Seal No More (3) which meets him 1.5kgs better on Saturday. To confuse matters further, the toppy has winning form over the 3. And, as is customary, Stephen Brown has 3 runners (D.Yendall up there Oges). Good race.

Given the reality of being left behind in wintry Melbourne, I should should concede that there are few better places to have to visit for work than Moonee Valley – I should never forget how fortunate I am to be paid to go to such hallowed sites. The betting ring is, as a matter almost of course, a shambles, but if you are looking for a track to visit on Saturday that is not where you’ll congregate. The appeal of the little dish in Moonee Ponds is the proximity of facilities for patrons. Watch the horses parade and see the races without needing to brave the elements nor traipse for miles. In that respect it has got Flemington covered. Where it can be tricky is with developing race patterns which limit already fairly small fields. Look for traits in early races and respond accordingly. There’s plenty of time to deciper the nuances as, just to cheer me further, this Saturday we begin a policy of 9 races for Saturday metros in Victoria! To be honest, I’ve not yet been able to confirm that the Quaddy legs are now 6,7,8,9 but we’ll make that assumption for the sake of these early darts:-

MR6- 1. Do I go Turfane again at the 50/1? Might even chuck in the 5 at 33/1. That sorta race.

MR7- “each of two” here for the bookies. Preference for 8. Pretty competitive field.

MR8- if a leader’s track, The Cleaner just wins.

MR9- 2 is a good horse but could cause probs for the boy. Beware Olly on Waller’s 4.

Not surprisingly, my New Year’s resolution will be to get to some of the offbeat meetings next season.

There’s the Roxby Downs Cup this weekend, for example – a leg of the Outback series – and a bookie colleague tells me that it is a ripper. For punters, I see that Mick Heagney’s going over to ride about 4 for David Smedley. Might be a good lead.

Broome race again this week too and their Cup time is approaching (16/8) – very expensive but what a great place that would be to go to the races as the backdrop of the glittering Indian Ocean shines even over a Sky telecast.

I’ll also look up at the TV to see how the Devonport track holds up to the record flooding this week. Trainers there believe it has saved winter racing and this is surely its sternest test. The suspicion is that wind damage might be more of an obstacle to safe racing that the deluge. Some of the other “all weather” tracks have not proven too successful. Toowoomba certainly has its critics. More alarmingly, watch replays for the dangerous clods thrown up on Royal Randwick’s Kensington course last week – never before, I suspect, has a jockey bagged a track after riding the first 2 on the card. Josh Parr did so on TVN.

The Moonee Valley experience has had mixed reviews.

Truth is, though, that winners are grinners and the losers can please themselves.

Happy birthday to the horses for tomorrow.

I’m looking for a holiday stash, starting by snaffling some winners on Saturday. I don’t really care where that takes place.

Good luck!



  1. cowshedend says

    Crio, feel your pain re Darwin, look forward to seeing you in the shorts and T-Shirt at ‘The Valley’ tomorrow.
    Maybe Fast and Free can knock over The Cleaner, will get the soft suck along with The Cleaner taking up it’s usual possie in front.
    In the last Jessy Belle gets the great draw this time,will sit in the first 4 and get the last carck at them.
    The 6th is a raffle, but remember the wraps from MDS (my dad said), last time in work,where he went round 11/8 in a G2 in Sydney.
    Watched the video of Angelology winning in Adelaide last start, did all the work in front and won pretty easily, then trialed over 2400 at Cranbourne.
    Happy Punting

  2. Keep warm down south boys
    Two things of note in the Papers here
    Pengilly /Presnell verdict on Tradgedy to Theatre at its best
    Its hard to beat Fiorente with Ollie in full flight for Gai (for Presnells verdict)
    On another page
    In a race at Dubbo years ago a drunken man galloped at right angles to the horses.Two horses had to be shot two jockeys and the drunk were seriously injured one jockey was killed outright

  3. cowshedend says

    Oges, stay up there mate, it is colder than charity down here

  4. The trainer of The Cleaner was critical of Anthony Darmanin’s ride last time. Reckons that he should have kept the whip on him as he responds best to hard riding. He’s rectified that with his choice of N Callow to take control this week. Watch for him to reach for the whip at the school and bludgeon him from then on. I can already foresee a hefty fine for overuse of the whip.

  5. Here’s a left field tip.
    Sale races were transfered to Saturday.
    Aron Mitchell has given up plenty of Sale rides to head back to Belmont for the one ride – obviously W.Mitchell (trainer) is a relative. PR4 No8.

  6. border hopping again, there’s half a slow on The Thief in the Sprint at Fannie Bay

  7. Crio,
    That would be trainer Wally Mitchell of Placid Ark fame. Fair lead!

  8. Yeah, that’s him.
    There’s a “Congrats W.A.Pike” race where he’s on a 10/1 pop?
    You racing tmrw?

  9. Yep

  10. Wouldn’t reckon last comment will take too much moderation.
    Will get on W A Pike in his race.

  11. Cowshedend, Fast and Free looked a monty at the North Hill, but the leader’s hoop morphed in to Teddy Demmler….what about the softening Baster tried to do (maybe for the Laing shortener?…I know it is an on pacer but Keys is a fellow Cranbournian). Winner too good.

    W.A. Pike and Little Lucy Warwick looked to be enjoying some great tussles at Belmont.
    Jake Bayliss is the king of Devonport already.

    I’m now chasing for the 2014/15 season.

  12. I see Yendall got Eight Bills home for Browny in the Sprint at nice odds.
    Are you punting Oges?

    Another story from today which deserves mention is the win of Phelan Ready in Brissie.
    Here’s ahorse which, at its 3rd start (10/1/09) won the Magic Millions @50/1. 2 starts later it won the Golden Slipper on a bog at 25/1. Today, at start number 50, was its 3rd win!
    Stakes $3.7m

  13. cowshedend says

    Crio, brilliant win by The Cleaner, copped a heap of punishment and was still too good.
    Rawillers ride on Count Encosta in the 2nd was awful, sat out the back and only got going just before straightening.

  14. In Coffs . Have something on Radiologist Wednesday boys.

  15. Thanks Oges. I thought trainer G.Yorke was O/S?

  16. cowshedend says

    Thanks Oges

  17. Oges is a freak – he’s a one man tipping machine!!

  18. Oges is our Paul The Octopus…genius!

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