Racing: The Ramsden Day Ramble

 by Chris Riordan

Budget week can be an appropriate time for us to review our financial strategies; in this case revisit some of our punting maxims and the big philosophical questions and queries that need to be addressed in the search for success.

Today I’m going to incorporate four dilemmas in to the discussion on the punt:

– you can’t eat value

– when to jump off

– horses for courses

– wet track sires

Now is not peak horse punting time here in Melbourne but, of course, races continue and I believe that the patient and studious can find good value winners. But here I offer a cautionary word on “value” – some of us get too obsessed with “good value” and get stuck with good odds and empty wallets. Many punters prefer to say “you can’t eat value” and profess that “you don’t go broke backing winners”. Apart from the truism that an overwhelming number of punters lose anyway, it is worth looking at this concept. Certainly there are punters at our city meetings following this dictum. It’s like the old trots punters who look for a lead and then just jump on. One regular little bloke in the ring never gets “top odds”. He watches faces and waits for “educated money”. Then he puts his “grand” on, usually a point under tops. If another at odds is specked, he’ll have 200 or 300 E/W as a saver. He backs a lot of winners.

At least we can rely on him to be amongst the very small band of punters at Flemington on Saturday for the time dishonoured Duke of Norfolk – Flemington’s “other” 2 miler is now called the Andrew Ramsden and is a bit of a plodder’s race, though What a Nuisance saluted en route to November glory and the popular Scotch and Dry ran them off their legs decades ago. This year’s edition is a pretty even race in which I’d advise “no bet” though Persian Star should greet for the Doc (part owner John Rothfield). Top weight in the marathon is Hissing Sid, backing up again after an historic and emphatic Warrnambool Cup win. Almanac stalwart, “Makybe” Freeman had been vocal in his seemingly unwavering commitment to the Wilde’s cause and certitude in Sid’s destiny. He has been the butt of my mirth (check archives) for his dogged loyalty to a player or horse that has caught his fancy. I, for example, had long abandoned All American, but Freeza stuck fat to celebrate a belated Gr1 at Flemington in Spring. So when Freeza burst through the pack to confront my bookies bag at the ‘Bool, waving cash under my nose, I saluted “the Sid Commission!”. “Not so”, he cautioned, nominating another beast. It was like seeing Hungry Bartlett prance in to the goal square and dish off a handball. Approximately four panels was the margin and Freeza’d topped off two poor days on the punt – according to bagmen, he and Gears were the only blokes not to have a collect on the Wednesday. But Makybe’d done what we all have…stuck through thin and bailed out at the wrong time. It’s a massive punter’s conundrum. His mistake was unforgivable. Don’t back a horse in unsuitable races but be sure to have something on him on when he arrives at the target of his whole program. Nothing like the old retrospectometer to make it seem simple!

Flemington’s card this week also includes the listed 1600m Gibson Carmichael for 2 year olds from which a good three year old can emerge but, again, for immediate purposes, it is not a betting proposition.

The best race of the day is the Straight Six and, in addition to a good field of sprinters, keen eyes will be cast on imports Alandi and Mourayan which have superior staying form abroad and will be at the top of Melbourne Cup markets. Elvis is the expert on these matters, so I’ll seek his advice as to whether either have a chance first up on the big track. I suspect he’ll say that, like Gai’s import in Sydney, fresh over a mile might have been more suitable.  Juggle the Books might be worth something in this dash, with Froggy Newitt replacing J. Hill, though the favorite will be justifiably short after a great run in the Goodwood Handicap.

I’ll be tempted to have a bet in the last two at HQ – Snowden’s horses seem ripe so I’ll be on Offenders in the 7th and then I’ll support Down Under Boy in the last if they are swooping down the middle.

Despite Flemington’s famed drainage, we’ll need to become aware of even more form variance as tracks get soft, particularly in the provincials. It is worth collating a list of wet trackers. Given the extended drought, there may be a dearth of soft form, but a time-honoured solution is to follow sire lines which often run true to wet trackers – it is more effective than the old “greys in the wet” myth! Budge and Elvis can get this going I am sure.

Sydney’s spotlight season has finally passed but this, in itself, creates a punter’s point of interest. John Punter, the gambling lead character of Peter Klein’s fictional novels, commented in “Punter’s Luck”, “Always go up for that Randwick meeting after the Autumn Carnival has finished. Usually get a sprinkling of horses that aren’t quite up to the group one races hang around and try for the consolation prizes. It’s normally a good betting meeting.” The last race is a prime example with Pinwheel and Posadas seeing their chance though I might try the shifty Pumper and Moses duo’s Mr. Unforgettable at 25/1 to get out. The best bet in Sydney looks to be K. McEvoy in the jockeys’ challenge.

Australia’s best racing from this weekend onwards is in Brisbane where it is improbable the tracks will be other than firm and true. Likewise the form. In an extension of the “horses for courses” adage, you’ll find that certain horses head north for winter and find and hold form. The Rough Habit Plate is named for John Wheeler’s warhorse which was a prime example of this theory. Saturday’s Group 1 BTC Cup kicks off a really good carnival that punters should embrace. Ortensia, already a Queensland winner, and Melito headline a crack field in which I’ve a watch on Bart’s up and coming 3 year old Latin News – there I go again looking for value!

Ever the recidivist, I’ll no doubt have an armful of hard luck tales by Sunday from which to revise my approach. We’re a resilient bunch. I’ll be on the bag in Flemington’s main ring. Good punting!


  1. Crio,
    Another magnificent entry mate. Recidivist will be Googled.

    The Straight Six, and the two Wiliams imports will think they are in a greyhound race. I will obviously be trying Morgans horse in exotics with the deserved favourite, but look out for Snip Esprit. I reckon it will run a huge race at lucratives.

    Mug as I am, I will be backing Kibbutz in “Duke of Hazards” stakes, and I realy like backing NZ horses in Queensland at this time of year. With that,”The Hombre” looks up to being extremely competitive in the Rough Habit and the hoop is pretty polished.

    Early yet, more names to leap off guides.

  2. Elvis,
    I think that I am over Kibbutz, but I must say that it is the only one here I think who has had a crack at the “other” 2 miler, and 5 lengths to a fuelled-up Shocking is top form. But no bet for me.
    Snip Esprit does go quick fresh but I’m not convinced – but then I’m a crap judge.
    My best bet is West Coast!

  3. Crio,

    What do you mean by a “fuelled up” Shocking. Were there rumours. Nothing you say or do will be used against you in a court of law.

  4. Didn’t it sit 3 wide without cover for the entire journey? ‘Nuff said!

  5. Mark Freeman says

    Just glad we found the O’Leary slip-over-the-border factor in the last at the carnival to get all ours back (and more) from your sticky clutches Crio. We enjoyed the battle and it was looking dire indeed until Glaneuse saluted.

    But I don’t know where this guff about “dogged loyalty to a player or horse that has caught his fancy” comes from old fella. I basically operate a ‘stable’ system, I admit promising types, and if horses don’t perform, they get turfed out. All American had been turfed out three starts earlier, but I’d just included him in a wide box trifecta for interest in the Emirates after cleaning up on All Silent in the G1 sprint a race earlier.

    Now Sid – last year we hadn’t seen a better Bool cup winner in nine years trackside so I had him rated as a good spring staying hope. He didn’t perform too badly, and his run in the Herbert Power was a good effort, but in the end that was his level when at the top of his game – two or three lengths off the best of the local stayers.

    But top of his game was the issue this campaign – his lead-up run at Flemington, a race which he won by four lengths last year, was poor. He ranged up and then shortened stride at the 300 and plodded to the line – even that noted latter day hack Kibbutz gained on him. His previous run had been lackluste too, again over a suitable ten furlongs for him, and the prevailing view was that he wasn’t going as well as last year. Unfortunately the Wilde’s chose to tell Warrnambool through 3YB on the morning of the race that they couldn’t argue with this view and that they were just hoping he’d improve. Of course later Symon Wilde told the Age that he’d jarred up in his lead-up runs and they were over the moon it was a proper wet track in the cup.
    Interestingly, Sid didn’t get the reception that you’d expect of a dual hometown cup winning champ, as many at the Bool had let their heads rule their hearts and gotten off him, reflected in the betting drift when you lot opened him at $3.20 and he drifted to $4.

    I did enjoy your Bartlett analogy at the track – hungry gets hold of it in the goalsquare and handballs out of bounds – but point is you’ve got me wrong as a blind faith man and that’s rubbish about not backing Sid being unforgiveable – if I’d kept following horses once they’d lost form I’d have had to have given it up by now. Every now and then using your head will bite you on the bum, but it’s a lot better than blowing your money on out of form horses.

    Nonetheless, I got a nice slice of today’s quaddie, so am on good terms with the punt for today at least,



  6. Mark Freeman says

    I should mention that Symon Wilde’s explanation of jarring was of course made post-race, after the owners obviously had availed themselves of the juicy starting price.

    Speaking of stable runners – I noted today that Mic Mac, who I sacked after the All Aged run, was therabouts but not good enough today in the BTC Cup, so at least I’m glad I got off him!

  7. Mic Mac Muncher. With perhaps some ref to the sid, a colleague recently told me that rather than brazenly hoik a horse, some days you just hug the rail at flemington and can’t win.
    Hope you layed the Dees today.

  8. btw…Freeza, your logic is convincing. Did you see Par Bartley’s Mick O’Leary piece in The Age this week?

  9. mark freeman says

    I did read that Crio, he’s a good operator M A O’Leary. And was confident of Dees win yesterday – but it was back to the half-arsed efforts from the Dees.

    Re my jump off Sid rationale – as you can tell it’s been on my mind, and am still coming to terms with missing out one of my stable fave’s best wins, but in partic I’m dirty that the Wildes chose to keep the jarring up theory to themselves and not share it with Bool radio and papers when asked.

    Just goes to show you can be a stable follower and know a little about what they’re up to, but if
    you’re unconnected money-wise you’re still a mug on the outer.

    Nonetheless, might have to find a new stable to follow….

  10. Probably a bit late to jump on Smerdon!
    Set up a Qld stable for our winter punting.

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