The Mug’s Cox Plate Review

Let me just distract you from the major betting sites for a moment or two while sitting there at your desk wondering whether Moment of Clarity can win the Coonabarrabran Cup this arvo and how you’re going to sneak out of the office to get to the Trans-Australian Bank to see it. And get on.

Terrific afternoon’s racing at Moonee Valley on Saturday, although some of us were at home trying to win a buck while carrying the steadier of two kids and a good lady wife who decided the afternoon was for getting down to the shops to do a hundred things.

However there is always a way.

And so the computer was turned on just as The Handicapper was putting the finishing touches on her shopping list. Given she is from Oakey, I said, as a way of making conversation, “There’s an Oakey horse running in the Cox Plate today.”

Her response: “Yes and there is a fire safety seminar on at work on Wednesday.”

The Handicapper doesn’t usually speak in riddles, but I was able to decode this one. It’s a view I find disappointing: that she would eschew her roots in prosecuting the case for her loathing of racing.

The kids were pretty good although I didn’t really get a proper bet on until the fourth when I backed Trading, and thought I was home. Then I kept Black Caviar safe, despite it getting out to $1.58 before, WHACK, it came tumbling in. I think I won $1.60 on the race.

I was rather surprised to see True Persuasion lead, but how easily was Black Caviar traveling. And the burst seemed effortless. The win was rather brilliant, and the time on a dead track at Caulfield was solid, although only half a second better than That’s Not It in the third.

Having, in the preview the night before, made the grandiose statement that the quaddie could pay $120 or a squillion, I decided the former was very likely so didn’t take the Field-Field approach which has serve d me well in recent times.

With So You Think out to $1.70 and Precedence at about $2.60 it was more prudent to take them in an all-up rather than risk roughies filling the bookend legs. There was strong money for More Joyous, some money for Whobegotyou, Zipping was up and down, and the others were drifting throughout the afternoon.

I didn’t like the AAMI Vase but Rekindled justified the early Derby money with a strong(ish) win. With Bullbars out I ended up having a little flutter on Cosmonaut, but he had to come very, very wide.

In the Moonee Valley Cup I mucked around with Niptious who was going to lead with Sea Galleon I thought, and had a nibble at Irazu as well, while keeping Precedence safe (at $2.20). Blake Shinn got him to jump well and in the charge around the corner the first time did beautifully to get him one-out one-back in what was a fine ride. From there he always looked the winner. Don’t you love that change of camera angle as they come into the straight. Niptious, scrubbed up from the 400, looked to find two lengths with the camera angle, but it wasn’t wet enough for him, and he was eventually swamped (running a brave fifth) by Precedence and later Irazu who got home pretty well. It was a quintessential 5/4 fave’s win, and one where those on him must have felt uncommonly confident throughout.

And so to the big one. The kids were in the sandpit which was a Heavy 8 after the overnight rain. Stewards considered a downgrade when Theo broke a plastic spade under the weight of the sand.

So You Think was back in to $1.55 before settling on $1.60 and he carried mine. There was some doubt about how it would pan out, but I’m not sure there ever was $1.60’s worth of doubt. Maybe $1.30’s? What was his right price.

Nash rode More Joyous to win the race, not finish a creditable second, for which I give the Sydney team credit. But Steven Arnold had So You Think ready to pounce, and away he went. They came after him late, and you were left wondering whether Whobegotyou and Shoot Out could have finished even closer. Zipping was honest – again.

On Friday night Freezer Freeman potted More Joyous and gave us the First Four for a $6 outlay if we were paying attention, and so he has plenty for the Flemington week ahead, and the Coonabarrabran Cup.

The return of the winner is always great to see. This one was memorable for the emerging champion and Bart who is getting on. His teeth are looking bigger and his hair is not as lush and his suits hang on him. He is strating to age, but not to weary. What a tremendous day for him.

And you have to be thrilled for Steven Arnold who has been a little unlucky to miss out on rides in the biggest races. He is a magnificent jockey in the way that Patty Payne was, and a helluva nice bloke. He’s from a true racing family from the Red Centre and he deserves this association and the accolades that it has won him. His mother Sheila is a trainer, and a stalwart of Territory racing, especially the Darwin Carnival. Yet another example that people and their horses can come from everywhere – even Oakey.

S. Arnold rode Maybe Better to win the Saab in 2006. The Handicapper’s uncle’s horse. (He beat Irazu that day) You wouldn’t see a better ride. He couldn’t make the weight in the Cup so C. Munce steered Maybe better around to finish behind Delta Blues and Pop Rock. Yet S. Arnold joined us for dinner that night to celebrate, not a hint of disappointment in his eyes.

But we needed a winner. I’d missed a few. Changing nappies when D. I. Dodson’s Texan Warney saluted after being heavily backed. And a couple of Brisbane bets didn’t. (What was I thinking?).

So I plonked confidently on Belscenica  in the last at $15. And I was feeling pretty good in running. She had the run of the race, but the way it all happened coming to the turn she was stuck, and just didn’t get out. She had been backed too – into $9.

So, a small loss, in a carnival of not-much-change-to-the-bottom-line.

And a great day for the new star, So You Think.

I put the kids in the bath: a Heavy 8 is not ideal insofar as sand pits are concerned.

About John Harms

JTH is a writer, publisher, speaker, historian. He is publisher and contributing editor of The Footy Almanac and He has written columns and features for numerous publications. His books include Confessions of a Thirteenth Man, Memoirs of a Mug Punter, Loose Men Everywhere, Play On, The Pearl: Steve Renouf's Story and Life As I Know It (with Michelle Payne). He appears on ABCTV's Offsiders. He can be contacted [email protected] He is married to The Handicapper and has three kids - Theo13, Anna11, Evie10. He might not be the worst putter in the world but he's in the worst three. His ambition is to lunch for Australia.


  1. David Downer says


    I also took the shorties on Data’s duo. It paid for the day. I too got sucked into Belscenica in the last, regretfully ending my “long association” with Lady Lynette, jumping off at the wrong time. It’s risky business shifting allegiances in these Tattslotto-esque mares races (with a nod to the MV sponsors there). It’s just a matter of, as D.Pagan would say, “sticking fat”. They’ll all win eventually!

    It was a privilege being on course to watch Black Caviar and So You Think salute. In the big one, Greg Miles obliged the crowd approaching the turn: “and the sparks are about to fly in the Cox Plate”. Then came the roar, and acknowledgement SYT was poised to explode and win it easy. I saved a few fist-pumps for S.Arnold himself also, have enjoyed his work over the years.

    Of course, pre-race it was D.Braithwaite obliging us with “Horses”, the unofficial WSCP anthem. It was shooting fish in a barrel, for Daryl, with a three-quarters cut crowd given the late start, but the atmosphere was tremendous – the p1sstake of the situation being lapped up by all and sundry. I may have even belted out a couple of “that’s the way it’s gonna be little darlin’s” myself …but when the horses began descending on the track …and Daryl kept singing …there was never more an appropriate moment for a Monty Burns trap-door, or that vaudevillian stage hook to yank him off.

    In a more sinister (and completely unfounded BS) appraisal of the situation, Braithwaite’s encore (of the same song mind you) may have been a deliberate MVRC ploy to stir up the young stallion pre-race. Bart hasn’t been overly complimentary of the Valley recently.

  2. DD

    Love a good conspiracy theory.

    Now, had it been Jimmy Barnes…

  3. Zipping was up and down….giggle.

  4. Andrew Fithall says

    JTH – you refer to Bart’s changing appearance (illness and a broken pelvis haven’t helped). However, one thing hasn’t changed. This is from Andrew Rule in Saturday’s Age, quoting Les Carlyon:

    …Bart’s eyebrows curling upwards as if searching for a trellis.

  5. Having D Braithwaite blasting out his 70s crap just before the race was a disgrace. In fact, having D Braithwaite at ALL is a disgrace.

    Does this mean that before the Grand Prix they’ll wheel out (pun intended) Gary Numan to sing “Cars”?

  6. mark freeman says

    Coonabarrabran cup passed me by unfortunately JTH, but I’m armed for HQ after copping multiple NSW first four and tri divs on the Plate.

    And for the first time since Maybe Mahal won the Lightning, the Newmarket, the Doncaster and every other race going, I enjoyed Bart’s beasts winning. For the first time in living memory I wasn’t ‘Barted’, finally Bart’s favourites actually saluted, and not his third stringers without any form.

    And yes even the Valley has admitted it stuffed up big time and even blamed Dazza for going overtime on Saturday. Apparently he’s not invited again.

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