There’s something special about backing the winner of the last.
Find the winner of the first? At 12.05? No-one cares. Still thirty contests to go.
But at day’s end, with shadows lengthening and funds dangerously low, victory is sweet.
There are several reasons for this. First and foremost, it provides bus fare home. Or dinner. Perhaps a final cleansing ale. Maybe all three.
As a young bloke, when punting was done either at the pub or on track, it seemed that Sydney was the venue we’d be trying to get out on.
I don’t know why. I’m sure there were other races around, but that was our cut-off from the punt to the pool table.
Over the years, the Get-Out stakes moved, and got later.
Adelaide was a favourite. Still is for many. Sometimes the Gold Coast. One final crack before settling. The result often depended on the frequency of refreshments.
Now, it’s never-ending. Perth and Toowoomba run into the evening. Want more? They’ll be running somewhere overseas till midnight.
For most, however, an end of daylight dictates we declare a ceasefire. Or for those stay-at-home punters, when the Treasurer orders the BBQ to be fired up.
Are there rules to ensure victory at day’s end? Of course there are. I just wish I knew what they were. No-one will tell me. So, you’ll have to make do with the following. If you’re not careful, this could change the way you place your final bet.
I’ve always believed that certain jockeys are more likely to get the cash in the last on the card. And it’s all Mick Dittman’s fault.
The Enforcer is the best I’ve seen. Better than Beadman, Quinton and Oliver. The great George Moore and Scobie Breasley were too early for me. I saw Roy Higgins and Harry White as their marvellous careers ended. But no-one carried my cash better than the Enforcer.
From the late seventies, it seemed that Mighty Mick was riding the winner of the last. Forget the form. Time and again, he’d get our gang out of strife. Mostly favourites. The odd longshot. With delightful regularity.
Of course, it helped that Mick was so gifted. But there was something more to it. I always sensed that this great competitor wanted to leave the jockeys room on top. On the rare occasion that he’d gone without an earlier winner, we’d double up for his final ride.
All jockeys want to win. Australia is blessed with the most talented, courageous and hard-working hoops in the world. It’s just that by the end of a long day in the silks, some want it more than others. It’s a hunger.
Like the rest of us, focus can stray ever so slightly in the last ten minutes of the working day. Dittman wanted to be first even if they were riding rocking-horses in the dark.
Now, I hear some of you yelling at your screen, demanding evidence before you fork our your hard-earned. Well, I’m happy to say that there is none. My form sheets were soaked by Tooheys and XXXX long ago. (That’s the beauty of this blog – no boring computer-based statistics. Just lots of half-baked theories that you’ll be able to blow apart next week.)
Since the Dittman days, plenty of others have filled the bill in my Last Of The Day system. The likes of Cassidy (Jim), Oliver and Scriven have all helped pay the bills.
Who are they today? Well, here goes. And remember, this isn’t a guide to the best jockey. Just the one we’re backing to win at day’s end.
Brisbane is tough. So many great riders at present, all gunning to be top gun. Stathi was the one, God rest his soul. Now, hard to split Damian Brown and Chris Munce come Race 8.
The system falls down a bit in Melbourne because of the dominance of the Moody stable. Stay with Luke Nolan.
It’s hard not to back Simon Price at the end of the day in Adelaide. Consistent and competitive for so long.
The bloke who seems to ride winners at the end of the day in Sydney is Tim Clark. Not the biggest name, granted. But he salutes regularly. And usually at odds.
And I always keep an eye on Dean Tanti at the Gold Coast.
So, where does that leave us this weekend. Chris Munce coming from barrier 1 at Eagle Farm. Nolan is in action in the last at Caulfield, but not for Moody. No Sydney meeting, and Clark without a ride at the end of the day at Hawkesbury. No ride for Price at Morphettville. And Tanti riding on the Coast.
Oh, I should have mentioned, the system goes out the window in the wet. Like all my other punting instincts.
So, there it is. A new way to get out. Or go under. Good luck. We’ll see how we go in the coming weeks. I should add that I forget to follow it sometimes. Tips and old favourites can sidetrack me. For better or worse.
Now remember, tread carefully. This comes from a bloke who once went five months without backing a winner. Seemed like it anyway. That’s a story for another day.