Racing: Melbourne punters need to note tricky track traits

By Chris Riordan

Despite the relatively fine weather, cracking fixture and healthy attendance, it was pretty much business as usual in the main betting ring at Flemington on Saturday.

For bookies it was predominantly a winning day after a tough start. The Turnbull Stakes and Gilgai Stakes put the ledger in their favour, although the last winner was strongly supported in betting.

The money was spread this week as the Sydney fields were also enticing. Once again an ambit “dead” track declaration fooled early punters. This is a disgraceful deceit and somehow the track became a Heavy 9 by the start of the quaddie. Although Speed Gifted was laid down here, the results were consistently tough for punters who will kick themselves for getting sucked in to what looked a tricky card on a dicky track.

Melbourne punters need to get out the permanent markers and note how each of our city courses provide separate and fairly reliable formlines.

The 1400 at Flemington, unless they go nuts in front, is invariably impossible for backmarkers. They jump and land on a long turn until straightening. Often a trots-like sit-and-sprint. It was windy on Saturday and no horse led all of the way, but in the three 1400 races the prize went to runners that settled  third, fourth and second respectively.

No wonder Hot Danish was hard to lay after connections confirmed she’d be ridden back from her wide gate. She rattled home in a great trial for the million-dollar Myer mares race, but was never a threat to Cat’s Whiskers, who is now 2 of 3 at the track and distance.

Astute punter’s saw the Cat as “each way to nothing’, noting her Flemington form.

Such wisdom, retrospectively, bore great fruit on Saturday and generally will at HQ (and at the Valley, too).

I only became clever over a frothy post-mortem. My day was full of getting top odds about good runs and leaving empty handed (well, pocket actually!).

I should have realised my fate after Race4. Light Vision looked locked away as Miss Darcey ($11.5 in pre-post) eased out. Somehow a horse shifted, presenting Light Vision with a path and forcing Miss Darcey, who failed by a long head, one wider. It cost her the race, but some horses make their luck and others rarely do. Light Vision is now a dual winner and never out of a place at the track and distance!

That was not Nick Hall’s most brilliant win of his treble though. That prize must go to All Silent, the extraordinary winner of the Gilgai and, not coincidentally, now unbeaten in three Flemington runs. This one was almost worth doing my dough on but, like a conjurer’s trick, I had to watch it again and again to see how it had eventuated.

As my punt, Light Fantastic (definitely one run short), threw down the gauntlet to First Command, I’d spotted All Silent among the last horses  bunched along the outside fence in the 1200 straight scurry. As I urged the battle to the line, somehow the top weight blurred through to grab the prize. On replay, you’ll see Hall speculate on several runs and his mount surge at each one before a final successful lunge. Breathtaking. Backable in anything at Flemington (and on a firm track).

The other notable winner, obviously, was Efficient, winner of a Derby and the Cup on this track, in the Turnbull. Of course, we’d got top odds on Predatory Pricer, a brave second. Of the beaten brigade, El Segundo is only to be backed at Moonee Valley and Maldivian also has convictions at HQ. It is a hard race to analyse. Scenic Shot’s run was incredible. It that a big tick for him or an indication that many of the others were still “running in to form”?

As always, we’ll learn in time, but will it be soon enough?

Off to The Heath for the next fortnight. Guineas Day is the pick of spring. Track might be softish if the forecast is right. I’ll be in the main ring looking for some leads and, particularly, some money to put my Carnival back on track.


  1. Mark Freeman says

    Astute point about the separate formlines Crio, and timely too, given that we’re off the Heath, where the home trainers like Mick Price, Peter Moody, Colin Little et al are always to be found in the winners stall.

    And a classic example coming up is Flemington-trained Whobegotyou vs Caulfield-trained Heart of Dreams in the Yalumba, but Whobe’s the early favourite.

  2. Of course, some horses are consistent across all tracks…how could punters come at Von Costa Bloody Fortune again? All American is another serial money burner.

  3. Peter Flynn says

    aka Imposter De Hero

  4. Mark Freeman says

    I’ll agree with you on All American Crio if he burns my cash on Saturday, but I’ve been following him and I reckon he’s had genuine excuses (although haven’t all money munchers had their excuses!)

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