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 I strained my ear to the radio, to hear that one of racing’s greatest, had been replaced by some kid I’d never heard of.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?

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Why Peter Moody will be sipping XXXX Gold from the Caulfield Cup tonight.

October 20, 2012

Exactly seven weeks ago, on these very pages, I gave you the winner of the Caulfield Cup.

A long-range tip, for one of our great races. The feedback was overwhelming.

The great majority of you had a hearty laugh, and marked the selection ‘Can’t Possibly Win – tipster an absolute dud.’

Hard to argue with that. It must be said, my record in the 2400 metre event is less than flattering.

But a select few, obviously with way more dollars than sense, jumped on board. Without telling anyone. Just in case.

I’ve fancied Lights of Heaven for a while now. Since Peter Moody started wrapping her two seasons back. Something special.

Things didn’t work out last Spring. The mare needed more time. Moody admitted he needed to re-adjust his thinking with her.

She was a different horse in Brisbane over the winter. Improved every run. Blew them away at Eagle Farm. With some left in the tank.

Granted, the smarties still don’t accept the Queensland form as genuine. More fool them.

Moody has always had this race in mind for her. Even when the current  campaign started shakily. He hasn’t wavered. And as the big day approached, the pieces have tumbled into place.

Luke Nolen selected her, over the stable’s two other runners, both imports. Rest assured, if Moody thought the others were better chances, Luke would have been on them.

She’s carrying 53 kilos. A luxury impost for a quality performer. And the camp draws barrier 8 during the week. Perfect.

It will be run at a genuine clip. The on-pacers, including the highly fancied Glencadam Gold, will be at each other for the first half of the race. That’s not the way to win a Caulfield Cup.

Nope. The winner will get a cosy run. A world away from the battle up front.

The big question is .. is she good enough? Does she have the talent to hold off the overseas raiders?

I think she does. We’re about to see the best of her, striding past them on her home track. The great man from Charleville will be holding the Cup aloft.

Seven weeks ago, when I gave her the big tick, she was paying 21 dollars. If you were jumping on last night, you would have had to settle for 8 bucks. And don’t be surprised if she keeps tightening during the day.

The internationals will have their turn in a few weeks at Flemington. But not today. Wish us luck.

When you collect, as big Pete is downing that frosty Queensland brew, remember to keep a few dollars aside for my Cox Plate tip. Another special.   More on that next week.


All the Cup winners, two months early. Remember me when you cash in.

September 1, 2012

The dark days of winter are a mere memory. Spring and all her delights are in the air. When a young punter’s fancy turns to the Cups.

And the Plate, of course. The Cox Plate. The Caulfield Cup. And the big one. The race the rest of the world now pinches.

Today, the first of the Cup contenders show their stuff. Early days, on the way to bigger spoils.

The rules have changed, of course. Races that were once vital, now matter little. And country cups that were good for a beer and a cheer, now host Cup favourites.

I’m telling you nothing special when I say an overseas horse will win the Melbourne Cup. That’s just how it is now. They are deadly serious about breeding two-mile specialists, and we’re not.

Our money is for sprinters, and the milers. No use protesting about it any more. Someone, somewhere, decided we didn’t need to be in the staying game. And so, a foreign raider will again pinch the cup that connections of Phar Lap sipped out of.

Of course, that makes it bloody difficult to pick the winner this far out. Because we have no idea how good any of the foreigners really are. Or if they’ll even make it here.

Depressed yet? Don’t be. There are winners coming further down the page. Just not for the Cup we love the most.

Only the brave or the foolhardy would be plonking money down for the first Tuesday in November just yet. Another few weeks needed. Although I will say one thing. Forget this business about local trainers picking up foreign horses.

It’s all the rage at the minute. Anyone with a fat wallet and a dream is buying half-decent foreign stayers, and throwing them at an Australian stable. We’ve been caught out, and we’re playing catch up. It might work in a few years, when they get their systems right. But not yet.

The winner will be trained by an international. He’s been sitting in his barn, on the other side of the world, for months now. Maybe Cumani, or Dermot again, or the Sheik. Or some other bloke we’ve never heard of.

I know what you’re saying. You paid good money to read this stuff, and so far it’s still totally devoid of any decent tips. (Hang on, you PAID to read this? Seriously? You obviously have far too much spare cash. I’ll give you my TAB account details later.)

Ok, so we’ve established that together, we have no idea who’ll win the Melbourne Cup. Brilliant. But what if I told you that this year’s Cox Plate winner is running around today?

Have a look at Rosehill this afternoon, just after 3 o’clock, and you’ll see something special. Pierro. Triple Crown winner. Unbeaten as a two-year-old. One right out of the box.

I was on when he won the Golden Slipper. Bless him. Normally, that would force me to rule him out for the Spring Carnival the following year. But not this guy.

He just keeps getting better. Gai Waterhouse can’t say enough about him. Even in Gai talk. The wraps are twice as big as those she puts on all her other neddies. God love her.

But I reckon she’s spot on. He strikes me as one of those rare beasts, who will actually thrive over the torturous Cox Plate trip as a three-year-old. Tough as old boots. With an enormous desire to win.

The downside is that plenty of others agree. He’s ridiculously short for a baby in the nation’s premier weight-for age race. Seven dollars at the minute, second favourite behind stablemate More Joyous. And as much as I love Singo’s mare, I don’t think she can beat him.

Right, there’s our first winner, for a race that’s still weeks away. Write it down, put it in your early doubles, and remember me when you collect.

Winner number two comes up the week before. The Caulfield Cup can still be taken out by a local. Even with the foreign interest.

Lights of Heaven couldn’t have been more impressive earlier this year, culminating with victory in the Brisbane Cup. I love that Peter Moody has given her all the time she needed, after struggling a touch the season before.

Granted, she’ll have to keep improving. And I think she can.

Get on right now, and you’ll nab the Zabeel mare at twenty-one dollars. Money for jam.

I should add here, that I also like Green Moon. He’ll also be vastly improved this Spring. He’ll win something, for sure. But I can’t back one that is Caulfield Cup favourite this early. They just never, ever, get up.

Two winners, a special, and a game plan for the Big One. And there’s still two months to go.

We’ll re-assess our strategy in a few weeks. And the normal rules apply. Donations from all winners gratefully accepted.

In the rare case that someone might lose from this information, contact our Complaints Department. I’ll get back to you with that address.


Mixed emotions on Caulfield Cup Day. Where have all the local stayers gone?

October 15, 2011

Caulfield Cup Day brings with it mixed emotions this year. One of our great races. About to be won by an international.

I’ve lost count of how many are running. Must be close to half the field. Some have their overseas trainers with them. Others have been adopted by our own.

The hot favourite, December Draw, was hand-picked out of Europe. Mark Kavanagh is listed as his trainer, but the horse is Australian as Scary Spice.

Anthony Freedman might win a Group One with Lucas Cranach. He’s from Germany. Try doing the form on his last four starts. You’ll need an interpreter.

The Poms are doing their best. At least Luca Cumani is a regular. Manighar and Drunken Sailor are genuine hopes.

John Moore wants to take the Cup back to Hong Kong. His topweight Mighty High has a bloke named Beadman on top.

There are others. Unusual Suspect comes from the U-S. There’s even a trainer here from North Yorkshire.

Nothing new, you say. The overseas raiders have been coming for years. Get used to it.

But this is different. They might be champions, these visitors. But only the hard-core punters know them.

Will there be passion in the cheering this afternoon? If you’re on the winner, of course there will be. But as an event? Not likely.

You can’t blame our top trainers for looking elsewhere to find a Cup hope. The industry has moved that way. It’s becoming harder and harder to develop a home-grown stayer.

The breeders know where the money is. Few want to wait for a horse to develop over ground. Two year old sprinters. Not six-year-old stayers.

You won’t hear the race clubs admit it, but distance races aren’t sexy anymore. Except that big one at Flemington on the first Tuesday in November.

As owners, we used to dream of Derbys and Cups. Many still do. But it’s becoming harder and harder to place distance horses through the rest of the year.

It’s a vicious cycle. The fewer stayers coming through, the fewer races that get programmed for them.

So we get to the Spring. A famous Group One race worth two and a half million bucks. And it’s full of imports.

Not everyone thinks that’s a bad thing. Some high-profile players believe it adds to our reputation. Helps to build prizemoney and prestige, they reckon.

Maybe so. It’s just hard to cheer for a horse you hadn’t heard of a fortnight ago.

I still love seeing Bart winning our big races. Or Gai. The Hawkes boys. Moody and Waller and Heathcote. With local horses. And Aussie owners, booking out a Chinese restaurant to celebrate.

I can’t see it happening today. Although I’m willing to take on December Draw. Not for me when he’s never had a go at the distance.

I’ve told you before how I struggle to line up the international form. So my tip  means even less than usual. But I do have a fancy.

Manighar is quality. I heard Luca give him some huge wraps a few months back. With that movie star Oliver up, and a track that won’t be too wet, I think he’s a big chance.

This may be influenced by the fact that I backed him at 40 to 1 at the start of the week. As much as it pains me, I’ll be cheering a Pom.

Have a good look at the field this afternoon. And get used to blokes here on passports taking more of our Cups. It won’t be too long before they’re the only ones running in them.