Racing: Makybe’s lowdown on the tipsters

By Mark “Makybe” Freeman

While your correspondent got lucky on the weekend and other Knacker racing contributors, Crio, Budge, Craig and Peter, have done same in recent weeks, what of the pundits out there on the airwaves and in the dailies?

Since some of you Knackers will find yourselves trackside in coming weeks, it’s timely to take a quick squizz at the pundits’ work. I’ll kick off with a look at some of the Sport927 boys and the newspaper hounds.

In handicapper rating order:

1.       The Deane of Form, Deane Lester.

Despite working for the radio station owned by the TAB, Deano is a genuine, absolute out-and-out tipping genius.

The best evidence of this is the flood of devotional listener emails and texts that Michael Christian and Angela Pippos read out on their brekky show after yet another Saturday when Deano has tipped the quaddie or feature race trifecta (Angela, please confirm you guys don’t make them up!!).

But as that noted form student Einstein had it, genius is 99 per cent perspiration and 1 per cent inspiration, and Deano confirmed this one day by saying he spent at least two hours per race studying replays and the form. Added to this is his recall of racing history (colleagues dubbed him Memory Man) and all up it makes for a powerful tipping engine.

If you’re a spring-only punter you could do no better than make a selection in a race and then box it up around Deano’s first four for that race. Further, if you want to take a quaddie but have no idea in one of the legs – bingo, Deano’s four are the go.

He’s on air on Saturday morning with the rest of the Sport 927 panel (see below) for Prime Time Racing between 8am and 9am, and they go through the Melbourne card race by race, but you can tune in earlier to get the trainer interviews, and scratchings are now announced just after 7.30am.

Deano also gives his early thoughts for the weekend on Sport 927 on Fridays at about 8.20am, although he usually moves to an earlier slot (7.45ish) as the spring hots up.

The only bias Deano tends to have is a bit of a leaning to Cranbourne and some Gippsland trainers, with Cranbourne being his home track.

2.       Deano’s fellow panellist Greg Miles, Victoria’s leading racecaller, is a good solid performer, and even tipped a winner around $40 recently. He is far better tipper than his predecessor, Bryan Martin, and is worth taking note of.

3.       Keith Hillier is the show’s anchor and entertainer, but his tips can be average, with one major exception. Every now and then Keith will declare one, and make a song and dance about it. These declarations have a very good record. One of the best was Sunline’s first Cox Plate, when he berated the rest of the panel for dismissing her and declared her at $7.

4. The last of the quartet is Matt Stewart, who is also with the Herald-Sun. Matt is an excellent interviewer, but can go amiss on the prognostications. At his best when potting a favourite.

5.       Young Mick Sharkie at The Age is a new kid on the block who has shown some form, and he has a free-to-join website tipping set-up that contains a good written analysis of each race

6.       The Winning Post’s Paul Richards has a little piece on his page of horses to follow which can be worth a look … but I’ve really only included him here because, other than our own esteemed editor J.T. Harms’s The Mug column, Richards writes the most entertaining column in the business at the back of the Post each week.

Knacker racing folk: Who else are you watching/reading/listening to?


  1. Freezer

    Vince Curry, the old Queensland caller (who was educated by the nuns at St Monica’s Convent Oakey), would actively tip against the horses he owned, and was going to back. This is pub talk as well although I do have one piece of evidence and that was when he talked down the chances of his nag Half Scotch which duly saluted.

    There was also a bloke in Qld – the weatherman at the ABC TV who had a pretty good run. Got to the stage where the one he tipped on Friday night would open odds on whne the TAB got going the next morning.

  2. Peter Flynn says


    Enjoying your work.
    I endorse your Deano comments.
    He doesn’t speak out of the corner of his mouth.

    In his halycon days working at The Sun, Keith nailed some big Caulfield Cup winners (at odds).

    If you ever want to be put to sleep, watch Tony Brassell on Inside Running. Boring.

    At the other extreme, if you are ever in the UK, watch the entertaining At The Races and in particular, check out the work of the eccentric John McCririck.
    Renowned Aussie-hater, outrageous dress sense, ridiculous facial hair and associated bling.
    I remember him potting Choisir, Takeover Target etc at Royal Ascot.
    I note he tipped Scenic Blast in this year’s King Stand Stakes.

  3. Mark Freeman says

    In my late night delerium, I didn’t end up ordering those tipsters in handicapper rating order. Really it should be:
    1. Deane Lester
    2. Mick Sharkie
    3. Greg Miles
    4. Keith Hillier
    5. Matt Stewart

    With Paul Richards more a tip for an entertaining read on the way home from the track once you’ve done your dough!

    And Peter I like the sound of McCririck and that we’ve stuck it up him, especially in light of the Ashes debacle.

  4. Craig Down says


    Totally agree with your lineup. Deano is a magnificent tipster, has unrivalled form knowledge and seems to be able to get his message across in a very down to earth way (cf Steve Moran). As to Grag Miles, he’s very capable too (and a terrific caller). (If my memory’s ok, I reckon the horse you are referring to a couple of weeks ago was Pergola (at about 35s) to been the well tried Pass Me By?)


    Totally agree with your sentiments on the slumber-inducing qualities of Tony Brassel. If Harry (our 15 month old) has woken too early, I’m often tempted to take him out to the lounge and sit him in front of Inside Running!

    On racecallers for a moment: one of the best calls I think I’ve heard so far was a phantom Melbourne Cup call by the legendary Jack Styring at the Victorian Bar’s calcutta last year. I stir you not: I reckon it took 15 minutes.

    Fantastic meeting this weekend at the Heath. Heading out there. Can’t wait for the mail on the site to start rolling in!


  5. mick geary says

    Correct Freeza, you can’t go passed Deano in the tipping stakes. his spring carnival last year is a case in point – the only tipster on 927 to tip punters into Viewed (albeit as his best roughie). His performance on Oaks day was extraordinary, tipping seven or eight of the nine winners with his first selection, including the quaddie (which paid about a gorilla). The next morning on 927 callers rang in to thank him, including one bloke who said he won about $8000 after investing the $200 his wife left on the fridge for the groceries. When Deano asked if he went halves with his wife he said no, though he did return the $200 stake. We assume he didn’t bother with the shopping.

    As for other tipsters, I have a soft spot for Pat Bartley at the Age after he tipped me Kenwood Melody the week of the 1998 Caulfield Guineas. Some would it was the least he could do as I had just subbed his piece on the horse’s trainer.

  6. mick geary says

    Sorry Freeza, forgot to thank you for the All Silent push – looking forward to parlaying proceeds into a big quaddie out at the Heath Satdee…and of course a big collect on Sid in the Herbert Power.

  7. Mark Freeman says

    More than earned the Kenwood tip after having to wade through that I’d imagine Gears. And that’s a great yarn with the shopping money on the fridge.

    Craig we’ll be trackside as well, so we should all gather by Crio’s bag at some stage.

  8. pauldaffey says


    I assume you did a good job on Paddy’s piece.

    If Paddy was obliged to give a life-changing tip to all subs who turned his copy around, he’d be a busy man.

    Great character, though. I imagine he could keep writing his weekly punting stories column until he retires.

    Or Brad Johnson retires. Whichever comes first.

  9. Peter Flynn says

    Dominic Byrne is a noted form analyst who usually gets the winner of the Melbourne Cup.
    Over the past few years, he has appeared on Sky Racing’s Cup Preview (Sunday before the Cup).

  10. mick geary says

    Yes Daff, the sight of pbraces in the subs queue is immediately followed by a deep breath, but as you say, he is a character and that comes through in his columns. On the subject of columns, it’s a pity we’re not being treated to the Mug Punter and his battles with the Beaver this spring. Was most disturbed when reading last Sunday’s paper.

  11. Freezer, Craig and co,
    Just suggested to knackery a liaison in front of Beaver after Race 3. I’ll try to get over there otherwise come up (cashed up!) to Turfbet and say g’day,

  12. pauldaffey says


    You’re not the only one who’s disturbed by Mug Punter’s scratching.

  13. For race ratings, value chances and straight out tips Taj from stands out a mile above all of these. His Rural Ace Tip is fairly new but getting 90% POI, whilst his long term specials are at 40%+. Of the other mentioned Mick Sharkie gets 6%, Deano about break even with Greg Miles and the others losses. These are the stats over the past 2 yrs only.

    Check out the comparisons made here, and other comparisons at – Ed.

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