The official Melbourne Cup Guide for Mug Punters. Can Barack Obama win at Flemington?

November 2, 2015

No idea what to back in the Cup? Sick of workmates laughing at your lame attempts to sound horse-hip? Fear not fellow mug punters. Help is at hand.

The official Hold All Tickets Melbourne Cup Guide for Mug punters will answer all your questions. One read, and you’ll be the expert at the lunch table. The guru at the work canteen. Hell, you might even win something!

As well as a detailed look at every runner in the field, you’ll also receive fascinating racing insights, to improve your performance when the talk comes to racing. All this, for the small price of buying me a drink the next time you see me. Cup winners may even consider two.

So here we go. Pens at the ready. Good luck!

(Publisher’s note – there is every chance alcohol is involved in the formation of this so-called guide. Anyone who follows this fool’s ramblings needs to have a look at themselves).

1/ Snow Sky – Roger Moore (jockey). Even with a former James Bond riding him, this bloke’s no hope. And his trainer has a knighthood. As if..

2/ Criterion – Michael Walker. Genuine chance. Trainer David Hayes has his mojo back, and Walker can ride. Classy, but a query on whether he’ll see out the 3200 metres.

3/ Fame Game – Zac Purton. The favourite. And Purton is a gun. The Japanese say he can’t be beaten. At least I think that’s what they said. Over-rated for mine. And needs a bone-dry track. Leave me out.

4/ Our Ivanhowe – Ben Melham. Named after the mighty Ivanhoes footy club in Cairns. Which is a surprise given he’s from Germany. Trainer Freedman knows how to win a Cup. Top Six chance.

5/ Big Orange – David ‘Luttsy’ Lutteral. Named in honour of our great redheads. The horse carrying the hopes of all ginger-tops. They actually had to change the rules to allow a ranga to have a ride in the great race. Luttsy will give his all .. but the horse will still be running after dark.

6/ Hartnell – James McDonald. Not doing enough, even with the services of our most improved jockey. Pass.

7/ Hokko Brave – Craig Williams. The second of the Japanese raiders. Forget his Caulfield Cup run. Tell your mates he’s a better chance than the favourite, and glow in their praise when he rockets home into the placings.

8/ Max Dynamite – Frankie Dettori or Rod Stewart. There are three things the Irish are passionate about. Guinness and racing. This bloke can spring a huge shock, especially if it’s wet.

9/ Red Cadeaux – Paul Hogan. Hoges has been given the ride in honour of the horse being named Australian of the Year. He won’t win, but cheer him anyway.

10/ Trip to Paris – Tommy Berry. The winner. Get on and get on for plenty. The more you put on the more you get back.

#Hoofnote – the star of the movie Racing Stripes was a zebra. And he won the Kentucky Derby. And the stable flies could talk. Very, very cool.

11/ Who Shot Thebarman – Blake Shinn. Ran third last year. Johnny Cash sang a song about him. Or Waylon Jennings. Anyway .. trainer Chris Waller is winning everything except the RSL raffle .. so watch this fella.

12/ Sky Hunter – Bill Shorten. The Opposition Leader will do anything for a lift in the polls. They could start an hour early and still not run in the first ten.

13/ The Offer – Damien Oliver. One of Gai’s hopes. Top trainer. Top jockey. Might not be good enough, but the dynamic duo will give him every chance.

14/ Grand Marshal – Jim Cassidy. The ‘Pumper’s’ last Cup ride. Sadly it won’t be a winning one.

#Hoofnote – I shed a tear in the movie Phar Lap. Several times. When he died, and when he was beaten early and they lost their cash. Gents, if you’re trying to impress the ladieeez at your Cup function today, feel free to borrow that line.

15/ Preferment – Hugh Bowman. Huge chance. The best of the locals, with the Cox Plate-winning jockey. Include him in anything you do.

16/ Quest for More – Damian Lane. If he wins I will give each and every one of you a glass of champagne. (Publisher’s note – see above).

17/ Almoonquith – Dwayne Dunn. Should be penalised for having a silly name.

18/ Kingfisher – Bronwyn Bishop. She asked stewards if she could use the chopper to tow him along. Even then would struggle.

19/ Prince of Penzance – Andrew O’Keefe. Instead of wearing silks he’ll be in the pirate costume.

20/ Bondi Beach – Brett Prebble. He’ll be riding topless in honour of the backpackers who’ll be cheering him.

21/ Sertorius – Craig Newitt. The horse ran against Phar Lap back in the 1930s. Stewards have given permission for him to run with the aid of a walker.

22/ The United States – Barack Obama. A lightweight threat. Include him in your multiple bets.

#Hoofnote – Just after the start of the Cup, you’ll see the field pass the winning post, before the horses do another lap. You are required to cheer loudly when this happens, and pretend that your horse just won. Hilarious trick, especially at an expensive function.

23/ Excess Knowledge – Kerrin McEvoy. Another of Gai’s runners. Scraped into the field with a win last Saturday. Not for us.

24/ Gust of Wind – Mark Latham. Now there’s an omen bet if ever there was one. You’ll hear him belly-aching before they hit the straight.

So there you have it. Winners .. horses to avoid .. and conversation gold. Share this with your friends. Unless they happen to be lawyers. Happy Cup Day!

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In memory of Bart. The horse we’ll all be cheering at Flemington.

October 31, 2015

So here we are. Our favourite time of the year. But the star of the show is missing.

Cup week without Bart. It’s like Christmas without Santa. Sure, we’ll open the presents. But it’s not as much fun.

Those words of wisdom in the days prior. A subtle tip, for those truly listening.

What would he add to the groaning mantlepiece? A feature mile? Another Derby? Dare we dream .. another Cup?

Those more interested in hats than horses would throw a dollar or two on. The rest of us would have a safety bet. Just in case.

And now .. he’s gone. But not forgotten. There will be tributes every day. Words from the heart. We’ll think about bushy eyebrows and thoroughbreds trained to the minute.

So what would the Great Man be thinking, sipping tea at the Head Table upstairs?

I reckon he would be telling us to get on with it. He always believed that the horses were the stars. He’d be happy with the quality on show today.

Surely he’d be impressed with the raw power of Exosphere. There’d be a nod towards Mick Price, as he chases the Derby with Tarzino. But that wonderful gaze, honed over the decades, would be saved for one horse.

Check the form guide for the Group 3 Lexus, and you’ll find the famous Cummings name. Not son Anthony. Grandson James.

He’s training Ruling Dynasty. The way Bart taught him. It’s a big chance, with Tommy Berry up.

A win this afternoon, means an automatic place in the Melbourne Cup. Yep, our most famous name, could be running on Tuesday.

It’s fairytale stuff. And there’s a twist, that only racing could throw up.

It could be the other famous name, that spoils the script. Gai has Excess Knowledge humming. Those using head over heart won’t hear of him being beaten. So here we go again. Cummings V Waterhouse.

The beauty of all this? Bart would be smiling. He loved the twists and turns leading into the Cup. And if young James is successful, the roar might be bigger than we hear for the Derby.

Hold on to your hats folks. That Cummings name might be heading to Cup Day again. Maybe things haven’t changed too much after all.


Today’s special at Forty Winx. Cox Plate glory at the Valley

October 24, 2015

Mooney Valley and I are uneasy lovers.

Sure, I respect her tradition. The awesome line of champions to have paraded before today.

Three in a row for Kingston Town. Gunsynd. Tulloch. And Phar Lap.

Bart and So You Think. Bossy and Makybe Diva. What a roll call.

I last backed the winner of the Cox Plate in 1924. Or so it seems. Let’s just say .. the great race hasn’t been a happy hunting ground.

Never get it right. That impossibly short straight. Gets me every time.

I’m usually doing my best work late, in the spacious final furlong of Flemington, or Randwick, or Eagle Farm. Let us stretch our legs.

Not at the Valley. No waiting for the clock tower. Watch them take off from the previous suburb. If you can’t sustain a run, don’t bother turning up.

I not only miss the winner, I’m a chance of missing the first eight. I’m studying the form, and it could be an assembly brochure from IKEA.

But this year, it’s different. I’m on something special. Something good enough to carry Hughie Bowman and my fragile hopes.

I’ve watched Winx closely. Both up close, and on the screen. She’s one out of the box. An excitement machine.

We love them flying home. Coming from impossible positions to greet the judge. This mare does it, time and again.

She ran in a Group Three race on the Sunshine Coast last year, and won as if jet propelled.

From there she went into the Queensland Oaks. If you had gold bars hidden in the yard you were digging them up. She came home so fast Hughie returned to scale with windburn.

Fast forward to the Epsom. She couldn’t win from there. No way. Can she win from there? Of course she can!

And so to the Valley. The race for the purists. It doesn’t get any tougher.

There can be no mistakes. Hughie will have to get her rolling early. That’s ok. No-one is riding better.

Watch her fly. Keep an eye out for that dark cap late. It will be airborne.

The owner who’ll be in charge of celebrations is a Queenslander. The party will be epic. Again. Another prize for our shelf.

Good luck this afternoon. Fingers crossed for a repeat of 1924. The name of the winner back then? The Night Patrol. Which is exactly what they’ll need after the last.


Time for a little Romance on Caulfield Cup day.

October 17, 2015

The first thing they teach you in Punting School is .. Stick.

If you like something, don’t drop off.

Stay with whatever caught your eye all those weeks ago.

If you happen to be the Dunce of that school, (hand goes up), chances are you forget this golden rule on a monthly basis.

You may remember my Flying Spur tale of woe. The day I not only broke the rule, I smashed it into a thousand tiny pieces.

Before Flying Spur was a mighty sire, he was a flying youngster.

I’d watched from up north, as Lee Freedman plotted a course all the way to the Golden Slipper.

There was something about this flashy bloke that caught my eye. The horse, not Lee.

Days out from the two year old classic, he was doing nothing in the market. The smarties didn’t want a bar of him. That didn’t worry me. Another Golden Rule is not to be scared off by big odds. We’ll discuss that another time.

Anyway, I was confident. We would fill our boots on the back of Flying Spur.

That was, until race morning.

I woke to the news that our champion jockey Jim Cassidy had been given a stretch by stewards. It was the infamous Jockey Tapes Scandal. Pumper had been innocently giving tips. And was now banished. On the morning of the bloody Slipper!

I staggered as if shot. This could not be happening. I strained my ear to the radio, to hear that one of racing’s greatest, had been replaced by some kid I’d never heard of. A young bloke called Boss. I think they said his first name was Glen.

Just like that, I was off. The bet I’d been drooling over was cancelled. No way could this no-name handle the frenzy of the world’s most intense dash for juveniles.

There would be no Sticking. Instead, I backed something else. It may have been called Donkey. And watched, as Bossy sent Flying Spur to the line for an easy win. It paid over 20 bucks. I contemplated becoming a nun.

Anyway, if nothing else, we learn from our mistakes. Even costly, gut-wrenching ones like that.

And so, to the Caulfield Cup. And the point of this rambling. I have been taken by Rising Romance since she ran second last year.

Something about the run has stayed with me. The way she hit the line. It was like someone had scribbled ‘follow me’ across her sizeable rump.

I’ve followed her this campaign. Ignoring results. Knowing the Cup was the aim.

Today is pay day. I reckon she’ll rocket home and line our pockets. D.Lane is a patient rider. It’s what we need in the rough and tumble at Caulfield.

Stick to what you like. I can’t make it any clearer. Although I do have one question. What’s Bossy riding?


The Broncos, Tina Turner and a snoring coach.

October 4, 2015

There were socks and undies in that Sydney hotel drawer, but no grand final tickets.

It wasn’t for a lack of looking. Granted, we were gazing through A Grade hangovers, but surely we would still be able to spot two gleaming tickets through Smithy’s large white Bonds.

We were in Sydney, to watch the Broncos win a grand final. Way back in ’93, when Alfie was leading the way, and Powers sat on the front of their jerseys.

You might remember it. Tina Turner was there. Belting out a few tunes, and cuddling the Brisbane boys. So I’m told. Because we didn’t actually make the game.

It was a bunch of rough heads from North Queensland. A footy trip from Cairns, led by a former Origin player. Who demanded to hold the tickets.

It had been fun, up until the empty-drawer moment. A few beers. Plenty of laughs. I may have even had a punt.

On the morning of the grand final, we treated ourselves to a hearty breakfast, to prepare for the big day ahead.

The boys made their way to respective rooms, to tidy up as best they could, and grab their tickets.

They were waiting out the front for us. Unaware that on Level 6, panic had set in.

Smithy decided there had been a theft. The only explanation could be that a maid with a long criminal history had snuck in, and guessed that he would have hidden the tickets with his jocks.

I suggested that it may have been more simple. That as a former forward .. he may have lost them. Leaving us ticklet-less. And laughing stocks. He did not take this suggestion well.

By now, the boys were making their way onto the bus. A search party was sent to our room. To find us in a blazing row about various levels of stupidity.

Blame then shifted to others in the travelling party. Perhaps the thief was among us. This was met with howls of protest. And laughter. They were in. And we weren’t.

We jumped on the bus anyway, hoping that we might find two tickets under a seat. We didn’t. The laughter was now a little over the top.

We arrived at the Football Stadium, and watched our dear friends disappear through the gates. They were telling strangers, and pointing at us. If Twitter had been invented at the time, we would have been trending.

As kick-off loomed, we accepted our fate. There would be no grand final miracle. We would not see the Broncos, or hear Ms Turner.

By now, we didn’t have the energy to blame the other. The hopelessness of the situation seemed to accelerate our already crushing hangovers. Instead of heading to the nearest pub, we decided to go back to the crime scene.

A two thousand kilometre trip .. to watch the decider on a small hotel room tv.

As we hit our respective beds, I wondered how things could get worse. The answer came, in a bone-rattling snore.

The tour leader, exhausted from the ticket-tragedy .. had fallen into a deep sleep. And that was the grand final of ’93. Victory on tv, with a soundtrack of snoring.

We laugh about it now. Sort of. No doubt he’ll blame me at the reunion. Now you all know the truth. Just in case it makes Twitter.


Barefoot footy and stinky headgear. This is why you should be cheering for the Cowboys.

September 29, 2015

There were tears in Townsville when they lost the last one.

Even the bushies were wiping eyes. Before heading back to the bar at the Leagues Club.

No point dwelling on it. It’s only a game. Two pots thanks love.

The Cowboys faithful had dared to dream. A grand final after ten years. So close.

Reality hit, as the Tigers were presented with their medals in Sydney. Premierships are so bloody hard to achieve.

This club is different to any other. Not bigger, or better. Just different.

When the fans go to home games .. it’s not your normal bus trip. Try four hours each way. And then some.

There are tiny towns dotted through Western Queensland .. where they gather in the pub each Saturday night, to cheer the Cows.

The discussion will turn to the forecast. Any rain out your way? There’s a new Flash Harry PM eh? And with small talk done, they’ll move on to the important stuff. Is JT’s groin stuffed?

Head into the Cape, way up north, and you’ll hear kids laughing. In that cheeky North Queensland way. There’ll be a footy close by. The game could resume at any time. Shoes optional. Don’t fall for his dummy.

That’s how it was every arvo in Hopevale. Not sure if google maps does street view there. Fiji is closer for some of you.

A little bugger named Matty Bowen starred in those never-ending battles in the front yard. Years before be became a Cowboys legend.

The supporters are different too. Not better or more passionate. Just different.

Success on the footy field, gives so many hope. In communities where lifestyle problems make a game of footy seem insignificant. In towns where day to day dramas are much more serious than Michael Morgan’s ankle.

But when the Cowboys are winning, life gets a little sweeter. Maybe it WILL rain soon. If JT can do it, then maybe I can too?

And so, to the bloke who inspires them the most. So much rests on the skinny shoulders of this proud indigenous Queenslander.

Don’t dare call Thurston a hero. He doesn’t want that. He’s a wonderful footy player, who knows life could have taken a very different turn, had he not been inspired to use those God-given talents.

Every time he gives that sweaty, stinky headgear away, another kid goes to sleep, dreaming big.

The beauty of this grand final is that Queensland can’t lose. The powerhouse that is the Broncos, will have the other half of the state delirious if they send Hodgo out a winner.

The Broncos expect it. They’ve won before, and they’ll win again.

I hope it’s not their day. That the Supercoach is denied. I want to hear an almighty roar in the North.

I want farmers to have a little sleep in, because of their celebrations. Just this once.

I want the front yard games to start early, and finish later, with the kids commentating on the match-winning try.

I want a generation of young North Queenslanders, to see that hard work does pay off. That one day, they’ll be giving away the smelly headgear.

Here’s to wiping away a few tears on Sunday night. Before the bushies head back to the bar. With bloody big smiles.


Locals reveal their secrets, on how to back a winner at the Cairns Amateurs.

September 13, 2014

The best racecourses get you excited at the front gate.

Walk into Eagle Farm, and tell me you’re not tingling. Randwick too. You can’t help but breathe in the history.

Cairns does it to me every time. The walk to the entrance, reminds me of everything that is wonderful about the tropical north.

So it will be today. There will be a swarm of us, ready for the fun that is Amateurs.

Some, it must be said, will be dusty. Many of those dressed to the nines, will be showing remarkable powers of recovery.

Just hours ago, they were dancing up a storm at the Amateurs Ball. Screaming Shannon Noll’s name as if he was a short-priced favourite three lengths clear.

They will be sweating pure champagne. Such is the sacrifice that must be made for the North’s premier racing event.

Of course, it’s all well and good to be in the social pages tomorrow, but the priority today is to find a winner or three. Luckily, I’m here to help.

After shaking off the black-tie cobwebs, I’ve been able to canvass some experts in the field, to guide you in the right direction

The bloke two stools up at the early-opener told me we must follow that wily veteran Frank Edwards.

He may have been giving that advice for half a century, because that’s how long it seems Frank has been winning races up here.

But age shall not weary him, so don’t be afraid to get on today.

Another veteran hoop will be in action, and as sure as I’ll be late getting a winning bet on, he will win a race.

Robert Thompson could salute on a rocking horse. He’s been coming up here for years, showing the youngsters how it’s done. He might be the one to finance your lobster tonight.

What we don’t want, is to be following jockeys who were bopping to ‘What About Me’ last night.

They tell me he’s a fair dancer, but Chris Whiteley will be saving his special moves for this afternoon. My Gold Coast mates rate him at the top of the tree. Follow him with confidence today, even at odds.

Here’s hoping those three have us excited when we’re walking out of the gates too.

And one final piece of advice. If a woman in fancy headwear tips you something based on names, colours or lucky numbers, follow her. Funny things happen on Amateurs Day. That’s the beauty of it.