I loathe change.
Call me a creature of habit. And proud of it. At home, and work, and on the punt.
Giggle if you like. I don’t mind. I’m old and I can take your barbs.
I just think there’s something to be said for routine. And nowhere is it more important than the sporting arena.
My heart sinks when a halfback pulls out of a footy team. There goes the game plan.
Watch a decent cricket side when a new wicket keeper comes in. Nothing is smooth, no matter how talented the gloveman might be.
In the racing game, I would suggest that change should be avoided whenever possible. Or you’ll end up with loose change.
Late switches? Disastrous. Avoid like the plague. If it involves a jockey, run from the room and wave your arms in the air.
You know where I’m heading here. Although we’ve gone around the block to get there. Smart Missile today at Caulfield. Minus an injured Glen Boss.
His replacement is one of the world’s best. Brett Prebble is a gun. I’d back him anywhere he’s riding. But not today.
Here’s my theory. Based on absolutely no scientific evidence. Horses get to know their jockeys. They relax just that little bit more with a buddy up top. Especially the good ones.
Think Greg Childs and Sunline. Nolen and Black Caviar. Boss and Makybe Diva. Cassidy and Might and Power. They go better for those they know.
I can hear you chortling. Yes, they were champions anyway. Yes, they had other jockeys ride them. But you’re missing my point. And yes, I have one.
Smart Missile, the 3-year-old with a mind of his own, will be looking for Bossy this afternoon. His voice, and his touch. Instead, he’ll get Prebble. A bloke who was in Hong Kong yesterday.
I can hear you screaming examples to prove what a fool I am. Well, save your breath. I have my own painful story.
Yes, this policy has brought me unstuck big time before. Guess who the jockey was? G Boss.
It was the 1995 Golden Slipper. In the weeks before, I’d been following an unpredictable Freedman colt at long odds. Flying Spur.
He drew the inside gate in the Slipper. Jim Cassidy had the ride. At the time, no-one was riding better than the Pumper.
I’d declared him to anyone silly enough to listen. A major collect was looming. Until disaster struck.
The Pumper was outed the day before the big race. The infamous Jockey Tapes affair. Replaced by a young bloke from Queensland.
It was too much for me. As much as I thought the horse was the best in the field, I couldn’t bring myself to embrace the late change.
You know the rest. Flying Spur, with Boss riding for his life, saluted at 25 to 1. Beat Octagonal. I watched the tragedy unfold in a Cairns pub. And cried.
Did I learn my lesson? No. And over time, despite that horrible mistake, I reckon results have averaged my way, whenever change has been in the wind.
So, no Smart Missile for me today. It will be Woorim’s day. With his trusted jockey, Damian Browne, up top. Snug as a pair of old boots. First Group 1 for Rob Heathcote. Start chilling stubbies at the stables now.
I’m happy for you to tell me how wrong I am. Just not right now. I’m reading the papers. And you can’t change routine.