Remembering the Queen of Doomben. The day we roared for the Mighty Mare.

May 14, 2016

What were you doing on this very day five years ago?

I was at the races. A shock, I know.

But not just any race day. This was sporting history in the making.

On May 14, 2011, Black Caviar came to town. The nation was in the grip of Mighty Mare Fever. She just kept winning. And finally, we’d be able to be part of it.

The night before, her trainer Peter Moody was enjoying a few Fourex Golds at the Brekky Creek. Another shock. Nothing wrong with settling the nerves.

He’d taken her across the country by then. But this was special. This was his home state. The boy from the bush, under enormous pressure, giving something back.

Come race day, and women who may have watched Bernborough go around were in their finest dresses. Blokes in battered hats craned necks to get a glimpse. Small children were waving flags. Doomben was awash with black and salmon.

She was against her old foe Hay List. The world’s second best sprinter. And a youngster named Buffering. Flying the local flag.

They left the gates, and we cheered. Like a Melbourne Cup start. Soon we saw that this was a contest. Hay List was flying early. She would have to work for it.

They rounded the bend, and it happened. Something special.

She glided past her old foe. Lengthened that massive stride. There would be no defeat in Brisbane.

What I remember most, was the noise. The stands shook. I’ve never heard anything like it. A collective roar, as she hit the line.

You hugged whoever was next to you. Apologies again officer. There were tears. One dollar tickets remained in pockets, instead of tote tills. So they could be kept for the grandkids.

We owe Peter Moody and Luke Nolen so much for what they did that day. Signing momentos long after the last. Soaking up the smiles.

Five years on, and one is still drinking those Golds. Possibly at a bush track, sleeping in a swag. The other is in hospital, after a terrible fall last weekend.

I hope they both get to watch today’s UBET BTC Cup. And remember that golden day like the rest of us will.

It will be a wonderful race again. Japonisme  will be hard to beat, but my money will be on Artlee. And when he salutes, I’ll think of that roar, and the tears, on the day the Mighty Mare and her knockabout trainer stole our hearts.









How we let Black Caviar into our family. And we don’t want to let her go.

April 18, 2013

The tears have dried up now. We’ve composed ourselves, knowing the journey has come to an end.

And what a journey it was. Twenty-five starts. Twenty-five wins.

I remember Steve Hewlett on 4TAB giving her a wrap after her second or third win. Said she might be something special.

Now, we say that lots in racing. Usually, for anything that salutes, when we’re on board. Overcome some trouble, and you can make that extra-special.

But Steve was spot on. This mare with the giant arse named Black Caviar, would dazzle us. Time and again.

For a while, it was just racing folk following her progress. She would lose, eventually. They all get beaten. Phar Lap, Tulloch, Kingston Town. All of them.

But not Nelly. She kept winning. Soon, other sports followers got involved. Then the general public. Those who would rather read the classifieds than the form guide.

Kids started wearing her colours to the races. Mums made flags. Dads had dollar bets and kept the tickets.

They did tv specials on her. Books and magazine articles. She found time between trackwork sessions to set up her own Facebook and Twitter accounts.

They took her overseas, and she won in front of the Queen. Just. When the narks wanted to write her off, she came back and went even faster.

Win number 25 was at Randwick. It was breathtaking. The victory we’ll never forget.

Now it’s over. The most magnificent of careers, finished. She’s off to the breeding barn. How do you think the first stallion will feel on the big day? He’ll be texting his mates all morning.

We all get to keep our special memories of the Mighty Mare. I have two that stand out.

The Teenager and I sat up late, the night Black Caviar raced at Royal Ascot. I loved that she got caught up in the excitement of it all.

The two of us were joined by an entire racing industry on Twitter. We cheered, and gasped, and then cheered again. It felt like we were all in the same lounge room at midnight.

The other unforgettable moment, was when she raced at Doomben. I wrote that night that when she hit the front, it sounded like the grandstand roof had lifted off. I’ve never heard a roar like it, at any other sporting event. Even now, recalling it, I get chills.

Anyone who has watched her anywhere, had that same feeling. How lucky we are.

There will be other champions. We’ll dress up in someone else’s colours one day down the track.

But there won’t be another Black Caviar. A once-in-a-lifetime champion.

We owe Peter Moody and her owners so much. They shared her, when they could have kept her locked up at Caulfield. They gave of their time, and promoted the sport they love at every turn.

I’ve written more about the Mighty Mare on these pages than any other subject, outside of my much-loved girls. They’re lucky the horse has given it away. She was catching up.

Thanks for the memories, BC. Good luck having babies. We’ll never forget you. And if you find the time, can you let us know which of your youngsters runs the fastest? A Twitter post will do just fine.

Why it was more than just a win. The Mighty Mare shuts up the narks and the haters.

April 14, 2013

It’s not often you get surprised by racing people.

Salt of the earth, most of them. The older ones have pretty much seen everything.

Sure things beaten. Camels that sprout wings. Jockeys finding fast lanes, and zip-tight pockets, all on the same day.

It takes plenty to get their attention. Even more to get them excited. And that’s what happened yesterday.

I saw something I’ve never seen, in forty years of loving the racing game. It was at a pub. Not one of your fancy inner-city places. This was an old school establishment, with blokes who still eat white bread, and wouldn’t be able to name a fancy imported brew in a skinny bottle.

Like everyone else, they gathered around screens just after 5, to watch Her in action. The usual rowdy conversations stopped. All eyes were on the Number 9, in the black and salmon.

As the race unfolded, there was none of the usual boisterous barracking. It was almost a respectful silence. Until the Mighty Mare hit the front.

They cheered. Someone yelled ‘Go Girl’. Ok, that may have been me. And then, something I’ll never forget.

This crowd in stretched t-shirts and well-worn thongs, started clapping. Loud, sustained applause, in a suburban pub. They love Black Caviar so much, this mob, they couldn’t help themselves. And it was perfect.

It’s what the critics don’t get. What this champion racehorse has done to a nation.

She has reached far beyond the punters. People from all walks of life are talking about racing. They’re watching tv, and reading sports pages, to find out what’s she’s up to.

Families are going to the races to watch her. Thousands of them. Stands that have been empty for years, are packed again.

The narks choose to ignore all this. These small minded nobodies want to find fault. They want to criticise her owners, and her trainer. And it’s a disgrace.

Peter Moody is at the forefront of dragging the industry off the floor. At a time when the gambling dollar is under threat like never before, he’s become the public face of everything that’s exciting about racing.

He shares her, like a proud father shows off his favourite baby photos. Does interviews with good grace and great humour. Makes us feel like we’re on the journey with him. Which of course, we are.

Forget the rubbish you hear about her beating inferior fields. It’s utter crap. Trainers have been dodging the Mighty Mare for years now. Because they know they can’t get anywhere near her.

She demolishes anything game enough to challenge her. Believe me, there hasn’t been a horse sitting at home in a stall, that could have changed a result that she’s been part of.

They don’t hand out Group Ones. She’s won fifteen of them. Mostly untouched.

But that’s not the most telling factor in this wonderful story. Winning races is only the start of it.

She’s become part of the family. Our kids will tell their kids about a horse that could fly. Everyone will have a story, about the day they saw Black Caviar. And amazingly, the great majority will have never won a dollar on her.

She’s so good, most of us don’t need to back her. And those that do outlay something, keep the ticket to put in the pool room.

We’ll never see another like her. And we’ll never see a greater example of what really makes people go to the races.

Nothing beats seeing a champion in action. Just be thankful that those around her want to take us along for the ride. That deserves another round of applause.

My secret role in getting Black Caviar back to Brisbane.

February 16, 2013

The connections of Black Caviar were at a loss.

Everyone wanted a piece of the Mighty Mare. Offers were coming in thick and fast. Where should they take her next?

We were on our weekly phone hook-up. Yes, it took up some of my valuable time, but I was happy to assist. As a fellow winning owner (midweek), it was my duty.

Moody came on the line late. Some excuse about stocking the fridge with XXXX Gold, so they’d be icy cold for tonight’s celebrations.

When the master trainer asks a favour, it’s hard to say no. On the promise of a steak at the Breakfast Creek on his next visit, I agreed.

He wanted me to draw up a list, to help them decide where to take the Champ on her farewell tour.

The connections joined in, almost pleading with me. What could I do? As a National Treasure (her, not me) I had to help.

I promised them I wouldn’t share this information, so you’ll need to keep it between us. You know how narky those southern race clubs can get.

So here’s what I sent them. Let me know if you agree. If you don’t, contact the connections.

FLEMINGTON: What a wonderful track. But fair’s fair. She’s running there today. The joint will be packed. Once is enough.

RANDWICK: You know how much I love this place. But there’s so much construction work going on. Not a good look in the after-race photos. And the Sydney trainers will complain that she’s being offered preferential treatment. We don’t need the negatives.

MORPHETVILLE: Nice place apparently. But they turn the lights out after 8pm. How will we celebrate? And we couldn’t listen to that call again. No chance.

ASCOT: Now you all know I love my Perth racing. But it’s such a LONG way to get there. The Great One doesn’t need the trip. Apologies to my western friends, but it ain’t gonna happen.

CAIRNS: Don’t laugh. We could get BC out on the reef for some snorkelling. She’d love that. We’d need some fair size floaties though. There’s no better track to watch The Angels after the last, with rum in hand. Keep it on the shortlist.

And finally….

EAGLE FARM: The ideal choice. They’ll come from the Cape to Coolangatta. The Mighty Mare can spend some time in the sun on the Gold Coast, before heading up to meet the locals at Hendra. Moody can take his place on a bar stool at the Brekky Creek, and every Queenslander will have a beer with him.

It will be around Origin time, so the Mighty Maroons will shout her to dinner. Mal Meninga will give her a Queensland jersey, signed by the boys, that she can wear to the track each morning. And she can sit in the coaches box during the game.

Most importantly, the crowd on that Saturday will make her feel like the most special girl in the world. We’ll cheer till we’re hoarse, over the horse. No one does that better than a Queenslander.

The connections tell me they’re still studying my proposal. Such a big choice. No pressure. Although I will say, they’re saving that seat at the pub for Pete. I’ll have my steak medium thanks.

The best and worst in racing 2012. Or, can someone please find me a winner next year?

December 29, 2012

Just a few days to go, and we’ll be watching fireworks and downing the last cool drinks of the year.

That means it’s time for the racing industry’s most sought after list. The annual Hold All Tickets awards for 2012.

The biggest names in the game will be waking up even earlier, to see if they made a mention. Some will wear it like a badge of honour at the track today. Others will be on the phone to their lawyer.

As usual, send all angry responses to the complaints department. With the 1-hundred dollar fee. Cash or cheque taken.

So here we go. Good luck one and all.

*Greatest Racing Moment.

A host of contenders. But nothing beats Black Caviar at Royal Ascot, notching up win number 22. Just.

What golden theatre. Luke Nolen’s ride, and later, his honesty. Peter Moody’s love of the horse. The fact that she beat the best the Poms could throw up, firing at about 80%.

We were texting and tweeting in the middle of the night. Everyone had an opinion. Sporting gold, and we all felt a part of it.

*The ‘Stick With Me And You’ll Wear Diamonds’ Award.

Green Moon. Good judges knew he would win something big. Bad judges too. Like me. But we all dropped off, just in time for him to stride away with the Melbourne Cup. What were we thinking?

*Trainer Of The Year.

You’ll accuse me of favouring old Queensland boys, but it has to be Peter Moody. His handling of the Mighty Mare has been perfect again. Black Caviar aside, he’s been training winners all over the place. Back a Moody horse, and you know everything has been done to get the nag across the line.

Honourable mentions to Chris Waller, who will keep breaking records in Sydney, and Rob Heathcote. The Group Races will keep coming for Brisbane’s top conditioner. Hopefully a Stradbroke, with a lightly raced maiden coming back from a spell in the coming weeks. No pressure Rob.

And if you’re not backing Desleigh Forster horses, you should be. She’s winning everything. I’d love to be in with her for a Gold Lotto ticket tonight.

*Jockey Of The Year.

Tough. Glen Boss gets the nod, through weight of winners at the top-level. Few enjoy that winning moment better than Bossy. Just ahead of Hugh Bowman. No-one seems to be riding with more confidence at the minute. Nash and Damian have had their problems.

A few to follow for the New Year. Josh Parr will ride a heap of winners in Sydney, now that he’s linked with Moody. A perfect fit. Same for Ryan Wiggins in Brisbane. A highly talented horseman with a fierce competitive streak. It’s no fluke Heathcote is putting him on more and more top chances. And don’t be afraid of whacking your cash on young Tegan Harrison. An apprentice with a superb attitude, on the way up.

*Greatest Annoyance in Racing.

For me, the number of times totes and betting agencies fall down. On-line computer crashes, and phone systems that can’t take a bet. Especially on big days. Tote machines that freeze, the second a bloke is trying to get a bet on. Yes, it happened to me last week.

Is it too much to ask to have reliability, all year round? One crash is one too many. Use some of the millions we punters fork over to you, and get the system fixed.

*Tipster To Follow in 2013

With social media now abuzz with racing, there have never been more tips on offer. Most of them will empty your wallet. One bloke who gets it right more often that not is Nathan Exelby. The Courier Mail’s new head racing journo does all his own form, and is rarely far from the money. Bet on his Brisbane tips with confidence.

*The 2012 Twitter Media Guru

So many to choose from. Richie #richieplz Callander always provides a laugh. Young Andrew Hawkins has an opinion on everything, and does the research  to back those opinions up. The Queensland trio of Ben Dorries, Gerard Daffy and Peter Psaltis are great fun. But we’ll declare joint winners. Andrew Bensley and Ron Dufficy make us feel like old mates. Highly entertaining, and true experts in their field.

*The ‘All Our Support’ award.

Chris Munce. One tough little bugger. His battle with throat cancer begins within weeks. He has all of those in racing in his corner. So, too, does Kristy Banks. Such courage, after a terrible fall. An inspiration to us all.

And finally, ‘The Horse To Surprise You All in 2013’.

Pintuck. But don’t tell anyone. Not until we get a price for him, anyway.

So there you have it. A few hundred pointless words to fill my final racing blog of the year.

I hope you’ve enjoyed these scribblings. Thanks for the feedback, good and bad. It’s nice to know the handful of you out there are still on board.

To you and your family, have a wonderful New Year. Here’s to a year of backing more winners than our pockets can hold.

Getting the timing right. Should Black Caviar be retired?

July 21, 2012

When it comes to giving it away at the top level, timing is everything.

Champions deserve to go out as winners. But they don’t always get the chance.

Footballers want to finish with a premiership. Few do. Cricketers dream of a bagful of wickets or a dashing century. It rarely happens.

Of course, Warnie is the exception. He’s going to play forever. He’ll be the main man in Five/Five games in twenty years, rattling stumps. And the hair will still be perfect.

It’s different on the racetrack. Often, the stars of the show don’t get a say in calling it quits. Trainers and owners make the decision. Horses rarely get consulted.

Black Caviar’s time is almost up. The greatest mare you and I will ever see is just about ready for the good life. So the question is, when should she give it away?

Peter Moody insists his pride and joy WILL tell him. There’ll be signs. And he’ll be watching, and listening. He loves the animal. Would never think about making her have one run too many.

The owners have made a fortune from her 22 straight wins. They, too, have nothing left to gain. And an awful lot to lose.

The easy way out would be to pull the pin now. With a record that won’t be matched in our lifetime.

Fans will remember her final run, as one of her bravest. Out of sorts, she got home, on foreign soil. Just. In front of the Queen and some delirious Aussies.

They could send her off to make huge, expensive babies. And charge big dollars for the boys to get anywhere near the breeding barn.

Yep, it would be all so easy. Except for one thing. What if she has more left in the tank?

That’s the problem. The nagging suspicion, that it doesn’t have to be over just yet.

For all the glory of Royal Ascot, a hometown farewell must be mighty appealing. One final fling in Melbourne. With a country cheering.

Imagine the Spring Carnival this year, with Black Caviar involved. She’d run on Derby Day Saturday, and Flemington’s attendance record would be smashed.

The nation would come to a standstill on that afternoon, to farewell a champion. It might even end up bigger than the Cup itself.

Picture Luke Nolen bringing her back along the fence, with the crowd going wild. Moody might even shout the lot of them. XXXX Gold, of course.

Could it get any better? I doubt it. A sporting moment we would never forget.

One small thing though. She’d have to win. And therein lies the great trainer’s challenge.

He won’t risk her, regardless of how much we want to see such a finish. So he’ll be watching, and listening for those signs.

Maybe the great mare will get to decide her own fate after all.

Red faced after a big game blunder. Luke’s close call. Bradman’s duck. And Salmon’s no-try.

June 30, 2012

Luke Nolen can rest easy. He’s in good company.

Black Caviar’s jockey admits his ride last weekend wasn’t up there with his best. Actually, he described it as one of his worst.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t race one at Bendigo. He was centre stage at Royal Ascot, with the eyes of the world on him. Everyone got to have a say. Even the Queen.

The popular hoop put his hand up straight away. He knew. The good ones always do.

The result of his big blue? Victory. And a million dollar pay-day. The great sprinter, injured and out of sorts, remained unbeaten. Just. As Moody reminded us all, a nose is enough.

The beauty of sport is that it’s not an exact science. It’s unpredictable. Anything can happen. Even to the best of us.

It might make Luke feel better to know that I, too, have had moments to forget in the heat of battle. Several, in fact. And I was nowhere near as prompt to admit the error of my ways.

Several centuries ago, I was playing rugby league in my usual dashing style. Early in the day, it should be said. With nimble footwork and blinding pace, I took off, leaving a trail of defenders in my wake. That’s how I remember it anyway.

The cover defence pushed me out wide, but they were too late. With the breeze blowing through my long blonde locks, all that was left was to put the ball down. Which I did.

It would have been a triumph, except for one tiny error of judgement. I had dived over in the corner, a full ten metres short of the tryline. Somehow, I had mixed up my lines.

It was difficult to tell where the laughter was loudest. From the opposing players, who by now were having difficulty standing up, or from the handful of spectators on the hill, who had obviously never seen such stupidity in public.

From memory, I blamed the local groundsman for his shoddy line marking. And I threw in the glare of the sun, just in case. They all kept laughing.

There was also an embarrassing display on the cricket pitch some years earlier. It’s still spoken about in hushed, giggling tones.

I was a schoolboy bowler; reasonably quick, without the ability to swing the ball one inch.

I had modelled myself on the great Dennis Lillee. Which meant that I ran in as fast as I could, and tried to take the batsman’s head off. With little success.

Still, I shared the opening spell for a while. But there was trouble ahead.

When Lillee’s mate Thommo came along, everything changed. I watched him in awe. A low slung action, that either skittled wickets or broke toes. I had found a new role model. And I decided to copy him.

For the next week, I spent every afternoon honing Thommo’s way. To my amazement, I was knocking over the steel bin across the road every second delivery. And with more pace than I’d even been able to muster.

Come game day, I decided to surprise my team-mates with this new bowling action. And surprise I did.

The first clue that something was different was my shortened run-up. I no longer needed to push off the fence. It was all about the sling.

My first ball missed the pitch. And the keeper. But gee, it was quick. All the way to the boundary. Untouched by bat.

Our coach, a legend of country cricket, was standing at square leg. He had guided the early careers of thousands of young players. It was fair to say he wasn’t prepared for what was unfolding in front of him.

Delivery two was taken by our gully fieldsman. Boy, it was quick. I realised that my radar was a touch out.

Balls 3 and 4 followed similar paths. That being nowhere near the actual wicket we were playing on. Laughter was now ringing around the ground. Except from the coach. He was speechless.

I finished one of the quickest overs ever to be bowled at that ground, with the batsman unable to get anywhere near the ball. To say it was inaccurate is like declaring that Pavarotti was a decent pub singer. It was awful.

I didn’t get another over that day. In fact, it was the beginning of the end of my career as a bowler.

It should be pointed out that Luke and I aren’t alone in this caper of getting it slightly wrong on the big day. It happened to a pretty decent cricketer going back a bit. You may have heard of him. Bloke by the name of Don Bradman.

In his final test, he needed just 4 runs at The Oval to finish with an average of 100. For the greatest of all time, it was a certainty.

Except it didn’t work out that way. The Don was bowled second ball by a Pommy pie-chucker you’ve never heard of. Proving yet again that there are no certainties in sport.

I didn’t get to hear Sir Don’s interview after that game. He may have done it a week later. But I know one thing. He wouldn’t have handled it any better than Luke Nolen did last weekend.

That’s the thing about making a blue in the spotlight. Admit you stuffed up, and we’ll all move on. Except when those field markings are covered up. Bloody groundsman.

It’s Black Caviar night. Memories of the big events that made us get out of bed.

June 23, 2012

There’s something special about watching big sporting events in the middle of the night.

Ashes tests. Kangaroo tours. World title fights. Wimbledon finals. And great racing. All celebrated under the moonlight.

In the old days, we’d stay up for the duration. Fuelled by cool drinks, as operating hours were extended by kindly club managers. Now, it’s an alarm clock, slippers and strong tea.

Tonight, anyone who’s ever won a quid at a racecourse will be glued to the box. And plenty of others who’ve never opened a formguide. Midnight ratings will go through the roof.

Yet another chapter in the Black Caviar story. This time she’ll be winning on the other side of the world. In front of Poms in top hats.

We all feel as if we’re on this amazing ride with her. Have done since that first victory. Even from afar, we’ll cheer like lunatics.

The difference this time, is that most of us will be waving the imaginary whip while wearing flannelette pyjamas. And we’ll be back to bed as soon as Peter Moody collects the cup.

Years ago, Dad would wake me, so we could watch the Kangaroos taking on England in the Old Dart. We’d huddle around the black and white tv. I’d have a Milo, while he sipped on a sneaky ale.

They were brutal encounters. When the Poms could actually play. We’d have the lights out and the volume low, so Mum wouldn’t wake up.

One of my great late night memories is the Second Test at Old Trafford in 1990. Ricky Stuart’s longest run, that led to Mal Meninga’s greatest try. In the final seconds of the game.

Future Origin coach to Future Origin coach. When Big Mal planted the ball down and broke their hearts, lounge rooms all over the land erupted. It was one of the game’s great moments.

I recall the night it was standing-room only at the local leagues club, when Jeff Fenech fought for his world title against that punishing little Thai bloke.

They recorded record bar sales that night, as we went with the pair of them round for round.

It was well into the morning when Jeff proclaimed his love for us all, and we made our way home on unsteady pins.

Another night to remember was Pat Cash’s Wimbledon triumph in 1987. Although if truth be told, those memories are a little blurred.

We’d descended on a friend’s house, after a particularly boisterous Sunday night. Someone decided we should have one for the road. Maybe two.

We stumbled upon coverage of The Man in the Headband doing his thing. Pat’s heroics kept us up way longer than was medically sound. But it did provide an excuse for snoozing at work the next day.

It will be a much more sedate affair tonight. The girls will be sound asleep, so I’ll watch the Mighty Mare alone. With a nice cuppa. And  a biscuit.

But don’t be fooled. The cheering will be just as loud as anyone in a pub or racecourse bar. Getting up at midnight lets you do that. Go the Mighty Mare.

How I can save Qld Racing. Along with Moody, Singo, a radio legend and a sexy model.

April 28, 2012

First off, on behalf of all Queenslanders, let me congratulate the good folk of South Australia.

You won the Black Caviar battle. She’ll be breaking records in your backyard this afternoon, instead of ours.

What an experience to savour. Maybe even your greatest racing moment. Something to tell the kids, and the grandkids. Like we did up here last year.

Yep, they’ll be celebrating into the night down there. The pubs might even allow one last beer after 9pm. Wild times.

So where did we go wrong? Why is the Mighty Mare thrilling the southerners, instead of dazzling Doomben again?

It’s clear that we need a plan, to make sure it doesn’t happen again. To do that, we need the sharpest and most innovative minds in the game.

Sadly, they’re all either asleep or trying to make bail at the time of writing. So the job has been left in my less than capable hands.

And that’s a good thing. Because I have a simple solution, that will only cost a few million.

It’s time we appointed Queensland Racing ambassadors. Some superstars to get us noticed from boardrooms to bush tracks. And I have just the cattle.

Ambassador #1 .. Peter Moody.

Yes, the bloke who’s in Adelaide today. If Australian Racing had a Board of Directors, Moods would be my chairman.

They don’t, so we can pinch him.

Moody is constantly promoting the industry. Taking the best mare ever all over the nation, so everyone can experience racing at its finest.

He wants to attract people back to the races. And knows the best way to it. Show them a superstar.

It doesn’t hurt that he’s a Charleville boy. Proud Queenslander. And he’d come cheap. Give him free XXXX Gold at every pub in Brisbane, and he’d never go home.

Ambassador #2 .. John Singleton.

My mate Singo is another who can’t help but promote racing. It’s his passion. And he cares more for the bloke in shorts at the bar than anyone in the Members.

He might be a Blue, but he’s at war with NSW Racing officials. Perfect time to make him an honourary Queenslander.

Whack on a big money race for More Joyous at Eagle Farm, and he’d be ours. Believe me, having Singo in our corner would be a huge asset.

Ambassador #3 .. Alan Jones.

As much as I love the boys on 4TAB, we need some added punch down south. Selling our story, to get the horses, jockeys and fans spending their cash north of the border.

Alan is our man. Another Queenslander, living in enemy territory. It’s now law in Sydney to listen to his breakfast show. He’ll spread the message far and wide.

The radio legend gets back to his home state whenever he can. Let’s make it official.

Ambassador #4 .. Miranda Kerr.

The world’s most famous model went to school in Brisbane. With some creative story-telling, we’ll tell her fans overseas that she was a trackwork rider for Rob Heathcote in her early days. I’m pretty sure she weights less than Chris Munce.

The international interest would be enormous, if we could have Miranda and her Hollywood boyfriend in a photo shoot inside the new Eagle Farm enclosure.

She has other friends too, that she could invite to the Winter Carnival. Make no mistake, there can never be enough Supermodels at the racetrack.

So there we have it. A foolproof plan, to put the national and international spotlight on Queensland racing. The four of them will be our version of The Avengers.

They can have caps with a catchy slogan. “Queensland Racing Ahead”. Get them and their horses/partners/fans on board, and we won’t be able to fit the crowds onto the course.

I’ve done the hard work. The officials can take it from here. Please send my cheque to the Hold All Tickets office. And one of those fancy caps.

No Black Caviar today. Finally, Hay List is ready to shine. They won’t deny him this time. Will they?

March 10, 2012

They’ve been teasing Hay List all week.

His mates in the McNair stable. Pluggers, most of them. Couldn’t run out of sight on a dark night. But they haven’t missed him.

“Hey Hay, have you heard the news? Black Caviar’s running in the Newmarket!”

“List, looks like you’re running for second again old son. Moody’s changed his mind. The Mare’s headed for Flemington!”

“Don’t worry HL, we’re still proud of you. Nothing to be ashamed of, running a few lengths behind HER.”

Then they’d let out the high-pitched whinny that horses do when they’re actually having a laugh, and head for the sand roll.

Hay List would just glare at his so-called chums. Nothing like stable humour.

They were joking, of course, these provincial plodders. Australia’s other flying machine won’t have to deal with the Great One today. What a relief.

How hard it must be to be second banana, when you still qualify as one of the greats yourself. And he is, make no bones about it. Think what might have been. An extra five or six Group One trophies on the mantlepiece.

Even more importantly, we’d be talking about him. Comparing him to champions of the past. Instead of feeling sorry for him.

Today, Hay List gets to step out of the shadows. In one of the great races of the Australian turf. The time-honoured Newmarket down the gut-busting Flemington straight.

This afternoon, McNair’s gelding is firmly in the spotlight. With the pressure that goes with it.

Of course, they haven’t made it easy for him. Nothing unusual there. A near-capacity field. And the six-year-old will be lugging top-weight. A crushing fifty-eight and half kilos. Don’t discount that over the last furlong.

With no Black Caviar, they’re lining up to beat him.

Over in barrier one, the horse being spruiked as the Next Big Thing is ready to prolong Hay List’s pain.

Rain Affair just keeps winning. Ten of eleven. Nine in a row. Sound familiar?

Trainer Jo Pride thinks he has one of those once in a lifetime gallopers. Reckons greatness beckons. They have no fear of the favourite.

Bel Sprinter had awful luck last time out. Another one they reckon could be a superstar.

Rob Heathcote’s not afraid either. Not with the Mare missing. His two, the bulldog Buffering and the swooper Woorim, are primed.

Then go right down to the bottom of your form guide. The three-year old, carrying a postage stamp. Foxwedge is being tipped by the smarties. And Craig Williams could win on a rocking horse at the minute.

All brimming with confidence. But they’re forgetting one thing.

Hay List might just be the best male sprinter in the world. Glyn Schofield thinks so, and it’s hard to argue with him.

Some might miss his courage, when all eyes are on Black Caviar striding away. Not once has he turned it up. He gives everything, every time. And on so many occasions, it’s almost been enough against the best ever. Almost.

Today, they’ll have to match him. When he lets down, they’ll have to keep up. We’ll all be watching him instead.

I think he wins, even with the weight. I hope he wins. He deserves to hear the roar of the crowd, cheering his name alone. Just this once.

Victory would be sweet. And so deserving. I reckon even Black Caviar would be applauding.

It might keep the critics quiet too. Especially his mates back in the stable. Nothing like a Group One to put a plodder back in his box.