Trust me on this. We’re backing the Cox Plate winner two months early.

September 3, 2011

I think I’ve found a winner.

If you just fell from your chair, dust yourself off. This may never happen again.

It’s not this afternoon, mind you. I’m talking seven weeks away. Our weight-for-age pinnacle. The Cox Plate.

The idea is that we can snap up some juicy fixed odds early. Get ourselves cashed up for the Cup carnival the week after.

Before I tell you this golden tip, some history. My record in this race is abysmal.

I have awful luck at Mooney Valley. On any normal Saturday. Come Cox Plate day, the form guide looks like it’s printed in Egyptian.

It’s unique, this time-honoured event. They take off so bloody early. Forget the luxury of a sweeping straight like Flemington or Eagle Farm.

Our best horses, getting stoked up way before the home bend. Look up gut-buster in your racing dictionary, and you’ll see Cox Plate next to it.

The experts reckon it’s easy. Just pick the best horse. Sounds simple.

And history backs them. Check the honour roll. Phar Lap. Kingston Town. Tulloch. Gunsynd. And just lately, Makybe Diva and So You Think.

Pretty handy, that lot.

But this year is different. Have a look at those entered. With the greatest of respect to connections, it’s not quite a top-notch field.

The great So You Think won’t be back. Forget the other overseas raiders. They’ll be aimed at the Cups.

Whobegotyou is at the top of the market. He’s an old favourite of mine. But a potential Cox Plate winner? I don’t think so.

More Joyous is a wonderful mare. But she’s not Sunline.

The Stradbroke winner Sincero is another that I wrap to anyone who’ll listen. Maybe he could improve enough by late October. Maybe.

So where does that leave us? I’ll tell you where. The three-year olds.

I keep hearing judges way better than me mentioning the youngsters. That this might be a year where they dominate. And I think these wise folk are spot on.

In 2004, the three-year old colt Salvabeel was too good for them. My last Cox Plate winner. At big odds. On a day where the field was anything but classic.

Three years before, I was on Viscount, when he ran third to Northerly. A cracking field that day. He was desperately unlucky.

I backed Samantha Miss too a few years back. Another third.

The weight pull for the three-year olds is always so damn attractive. Gets me time and again.

Which brings us to this year. A field devoid of superstars. And a pair of three-year olds, with the racing world at their flying hooves.

Peter Snowden’s colt Helmet is hulking. Like an overgrown teenager. With manners to match.

He has problems between the ears that must keep the trainer awake well into the night. But boy, can he gallop.

I heard Snowden say on 4TAB a few weeks back that of all the stable performers, it was this bloke he was most excited about.

Anthony Cummings is also excited. Glen Boss too. About another three-year old colt, who could just be our next superstar. Smart Missile.

Cummings reckons the son of Fastnet Rock could be his best ever. Bossy is making comparisons with Lonhro.

His win last weekend was breathtaking. A turn of foot that only the best possess.

True, his barrier habits are a worry. I backed him on Slipper Day, and shed tears via my hip pocket when he was scratched at the start. What might have been.

So, we’ve established that both can go like last week’s pay. And that both have their problems. The question is, who’ll be ready come October 22?

This is where the tip comes in. Yes, it’s taken a while to get here. Is anyone still awake?  If you are snoozing, you’ll be losing.

Because I’m here to declare that Smart Missile can win the Cox Plate. In the weeks ahead, he’ll prove to be one out of the box.

You can back him at 16 to 1, right now. I’m tipping you’ll get half that in a few weeks time, maybe less.

So there it is. Your Cox Plate winner. Nearly two months early. From a bloke who has collected on the race once in the last two decades.

Remember, you read it here first. Except if you’ve been reading all those experts who are also tipping it.

The only certainty, is that if he can carry the weight of my tip, he is a genuine superstar.

Personal betting scandals, and how to stay calm while being fleeced by a sweet old lady.

August 13, 2011

The TattsBet boys are laughing at me. I just know it.

Gathered in a room, counting their cash, slapping thighs every time I have a wager.

They get me every time, the betting agency lads. And it’s all to do with Fixed Odds.

Confused? You’re obviously not punting enough. Let me explain.

Those humble race fans who bet on the laptop in their favourite comfy chair, are now blessed with choice.

We can flick between tote odds and fixed price odds, at the click of a mouse.

Those in the know will back a good thing on Friday at a fixed price, before the rest of us are aware said neddy is a certainty.

The smart operator makes money out of this, because prices can vary greatly.

I’m not that smart operator.

I step the wrong way. Constantly. The sound you hear is those money men chortling.

If I back something on the tote, the fixed prize blows like an Ekka westerly. Wrong choice.

Lock something in on the fixed odds five minutes out, and the tote price will balloon.

I can back a winner and still be yelling at the screen, accusing faceless people of a foul conspiracy.

Family members find this amusing. Winning should be fun, they chorus. Which helps my mood no end.

I have history when it comes to betting disputes. The results are rarely good.

One of my first encounters with a bookie almost ended in fisticuffs. Nearly thirty years ago.

I was young and fit, with a spring in my step. He was old and grizzled, with a heavy leather bag slung over a shoulder. The smart money was still on him.

I had backed a horse called Gaelic. Or so I thought.

It saluted, at lucrative odds. I cheered, and pictured what it would be like to afford steak that week.

With correct weight declared, I strode to his stand with the hand-scrawled ticket. No computers back then.

He looked at it, and handed it back. Wrong horse son, he drawled. You backed Gaelic Yacht.

Indeed, both horses ran in that race. Gaelic Yacht needed a winged keel to get close to them. The despised outsider. And I didn’t back him.

I made this point, forcefully. The bookie, who was enjoying a battle he was always going to win, pointed at the ticket.

In his Tutankhamun-like scrawl, I saw something that resembled Gaelic. And at the end of it, to my horror, was a Y.

It was a deliberate sting. He’d fooled the young bloke. I was shattered. No steak for me.

Ever since, I’ve double-checked my tickets. Read them back aloud, to the amusement of those around me. Just to be sure.

One person I could never argue with was my SP bookie. Or his mother.

He was a legend at our footy club. A star of days gone by.

He didn’t take our calls on race day. Very clever. That job was left to his mum. A sweet, elderly lady, who we’ll call Mrs Smith.

She knew how to bake, and knit, and lay off the shortener at Randwick. And she had a lovely telephone manner.

We’d call from the pay phone at the pub. No matter how close it was to race time, she’d ask how you were. Family good? Fine. Now, what would you like to lose your last few dollars on?

Settling would be done at training every Tuesday. Usually great incentive to do extra laps and stay out of sight.

Back then, there was no confusion. Or choice. You won, or you lost. With the help of a little old lady.

One thing they never did, the SP man and his mum, was laugh at me. Possibly because my poor choices helped build them a new home.

So I have this message for the TattsBet chaps. Give a bloke a fair go. Stop changing my prices for your amusement. Let me lose in peace. And do you know where I can buy a cheap steak?