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!

Why the rules have to change, so Bart gets to Flemington on Tuesday.

November 2, 2013

So here we are. Australia’s greatest day of racing.

But there’s a more pressing issue than finding the winner of the Derby. Which, by the way, will be Savvy Nature. Money for jam.

Unless we do something, the one and only Bart Cummings might be missing on Cup Day.

Mike Colman has been fighting this all week in the Courier Mail. And I’m with him.

Have you seen the great man lately? Bart, not Mike. Father time is within a length of him. In our mind, we still see him as he once was, tall and proud in the winner’s circle. It’s no longer the case.

It could be, that there won’t be too many more visits to Flemington on the first Tuesday of the month. So we need to act now.

His one and only hope is Precedence. He’s decided not to run him today, even though he could have qualified with a win. No, Bart won’t do that. He wants the committee to help him. And they should.

If they don’t, there’s every chance our great race will go around without the living legend. And that’s simply not acceptable.

Punters, it’s time for us to act. We need to band together, across the nation, and take things into our own hands.

The campaign must start right now, to have the rules changed. Just this once. There’s still time. Precedence must run. Sacrifices can be made.

Yes, it means connections of another horse will miss out. If they are genuine racing lovers, they’ll cop that.

It might be one of the lesser internationals. Boo hoo. Who would you rather see, a Canadian camel, or the famous Cummings colours?

Can you imagine the roar, when Bart shuffles out to the mounting yard? It will be deafening. There won’t be a dry eye in the house.

I can’t begin to think what would happen if the horse actually won. Cup chaos. The only thing guaranteed is that The Master would deliver one of the great one-liners.

Racing has a long and proud history of bending rules. Never has there been a more important time to do it.

It will send a message, that the Cup is about more than money. It’s bigger than that. It’s a part of who we are.

We owe it to Bart. It’s our race, and we want him there.

Start sending messages now. Hit Facebook and Twitter. Ring your radio station. We have until the last race this afternoon.

If they listen to us, it could be the most memorable Cup ever. The day Bart stole the show. Again.

Ten reasons why you’re not fair dinkum if you don’t go to Cup week once in your life.

November 3, 2012

There are some things you have to do before turning your toes up.

Sing a John Cash song in public. Go to an Eagles concert. Swim on the Barrier Reef. Have a beer in an outback pub. And go to Melbourne Cup week.

I consider myself blessed. All five boxes ticked. Those who have had to listen to the singing bit might suggest other holy terms.

At the top of the list, is the Cup carnival. Not just the first Tuesday in November. It’s much more than a day.

It’s been a decade since we soaked up the Melbourne magic. But I remember as if it was yesterday.

Six of us, having an absolute ball.

Do I hear doubt on the other end of the line? Are you not convinced? Let me give you some examples of why there is no better fun to be had standing up.

The locals are happy. Even with all of us there. They love Cup week. For the most part, they don’t mind sharing.

The build up starts days earlier. You get to go to Derby Day to warm up. The best racing all year. With 100-thousand others.

You can go to that Chinese restaurant we found that has karaoke upstairs. Around the corner from that pub. If you’re a little rowdy, like we were, they’ll let you have the room to yourself. And the fridge.

It’s ok to be a little dusty the next morning, because everyone else is. Breakfasts are big and tasty. Recovery comes easier on a full stomach.

You’ll attend the best sporting lunch in the land. Any one of five. Sunday after Derby Day. You’ll hear Simon Marshall, or Miracle Mal, or Shane Dye, or one of the Freedmans, or Mighty Mick Dittman. There’ll be a phantom call, and you’ll cheer. I bet you win some racing gear in the raffle.

Monday is a rest day, of sorts. Watch the magnificent parade. All the old winners. Horses, jockeys and trainers. Keep an eye out for the joy on the faces all around you. Melbourne does a parade like no other city.

Cup Day. Early start. You’ll be crammed into a train, and get a tip in the first minute. Don’t forget it.

You’ll have your first drink at 9am. Like everyone else. If the beer isn’t cold enough, you might have to have one Bundy and coke. Just the one. And no-body will think any less of you.

You will win, at some stage in the day. Enough to get back to that Chinese restaurant. We’ll take the upstairs room again thanks.

Tuesday night, there’ll be a nice little pub with a band playing. Some of the old stuff. People will tell you hard luck stories. For the only time all year, you’ll offer genuine sympathy.

Every chance you’ll fly out on Wednesday. Battered, but triumphant. Unless you’re one of the truly lucky ones, who gets to stay all week. My heroes.

Need any more convincing? Of course you don’t. I can hear you booking your trip now. If not for tomorrow, next year. What fun we’ll have.

All that’s left now is to sip that beer in the dust, do some reef swimming, and join in an Eagles sing-a-long. I’m assuming you’ve already belted out Ring of Fire in front of your mates.

Happy Cup week. And don’t forget – there’s a special edition of Hold All Tickets this Monday morning.

A truly unique look at the race that stops the nation. Detailed form for every runner. Some made up. Essential reading for anyone who needs to pretend they’re an expert on Cup Day. Don’t miss it.

It’s official. The three greatest days recorded on a racetrack. Were you there with me?

November 26, 2011

I’ve never had a bad day at the track.

Sure, there have been frustrating days. Costly too. Afternoons where common sense ran a distant last. And sessions that led to a long walk home.

But it’s always fun. Sometimes in a perverse sort of way. Non-punting friends are shaking their heads again.

To help those poor unfortunates who prefer golf or scrabble on their Saturdays, I thought I’d compile a list of some memorable days at the races.

Every chance you won’t remember them. No Phar Laps or Black Caviars here. Just some personal favourites. Special racecourse visits, that still make me smile.

So here we go. Counting down my all-time top three Ripper Days at the track. Not including the ones I can’t remember.

*Ripper Memory Number 3 – Magic Millions Day 2003 .. Regimental Gal.

I have always had a love of Gold Coast racing. And nothing says surf and turf better than Magic Millions.

Singo used to call it Melbourne Cup day in shorts and thongs. A unique party atmosphere. In the middle of summer.

Back then, Shaun Dwyer was training out of Toowoomba. A fine horseman, who’d been having great success. But without the profile of Bart, Gai, and the Freedman boys.

I convinced the boss that it would be fun to follow a Queenslander trying to win the big race. Just maybe, we’d link up with a bunch of locals who could  knock off the big guns.

Shaun was great. Incredibly generous with his time. He introduced me to the owners, and to a flying filly called Regimental Gal. More importantly, he confided in me that she was a huge chance.

On race day, the course was packed, as usual. We had a big crew, and no-one missed out on a cool drink.

Nothing unusual there. Except this year, I considered myself part of the team. Whether the team liked it or not.

She won, running away. One of Michael Rodd’s first big victories. When she saluted, I jumped in the air like she was mine. Possibly something to do with the 15 to 1.

After the race, I went down to congratulate Shaun and the rest of them. Hugged them, and possibly kissed someone. To their eternal credit, they didn’t have security drag me away. They even made me stay for an ale. I may or may not have sneaked into a photo.

The locals won the day. I was proud of them.

*Ripper Memory Number 2 – Melbourne Cup Day .. 2001

Going to the Cup for the first time is incredibly special. I’d been to Flemington, but not for Carnival week.

It’s like a cricket fan walking into Lords. Almost religious.

Derby Day was awesome. As I imagined it would be. Cup day? Simply spectacular.

We arrived early. Because everyone does. The big race was sponsored by Tooheys that year. What luck. It was decided that we should do the right thing, and support them straight away.

Hitting the bar, as the rest of the country was having breakfast, we encountered a snag. The sponsor’s product hadn’t been chilled. It was just sitting there, in cartons. What were they thinking? Hot beer was not the way we would be celebrating the great race.

So, our first drink of the day was that glorious product originating from the cane fields of Bundaberg. The Queenslanders were in town.

Somehow, I still remember the following hours. The colour and excitement of the day was more intoxicating than anything they served in glass.

Ethereal won the big one. She claimed a Caulfield/Melbourne Cup double. We cheered, and hugged, and laughed. And then caught a train home with 100,000 other people.

It should be compulsory for Australians to go to at least one Melbourne Cup in their lifetime. And if you’re a punter, you have to go to two. We’ll be back.

*Ripper Memory Number 1 – Beartracker wins at Eagle Farm – November 21, 2009

It wasn’t the biggest race of the year. Not even the feature of the day. In fact, it was Race One, on a pretty ordinary card at headquarters.

If you’d been there that day, you would have found a seat with ease. And there was no line up for drinks.

That humble Saturday, remains one of the greatest days in my life. The day a gritty gelding we had a part-share in, took the prize at Eagle Farm.

It was the mighty Beartracker’s main target. A 2400 metre Quality event. And so it was that a bunch of us gathered, to watch him go around.

Jason Holder rode like a man inspired. We stood and cheered in the stand, louder than anyone has ever cheered on a racecourse.

He won.

I doubt anyone could have been more excited. My face hurt from smiling. Jason may have been injured in the post-race hug. Rob Heathcote considered applying for a restraining order in the enclosure, to keep me away.

Members of our syndicate went into the Committee room, and drank tiny beers. The same place the greats had stood, and sipped. We gulped.

They finally kicked us out, to prepare for the next race. We found a nearby table, and continued the party. I can’t remember having more fun.

I can only imagine what the celebrations must be like after a Cup, or a Cox Plate. But for us, nothing could beat the feeling we had that afternoon at Eagle Farm.

So there you have it. Three golden moments. Just thinking about those great times makes me want to go straight to the track.

I’m sure you have your own memories. It’s the beauty of the racing game. We’re easily excited. And nothing beats a winner.

No Black Caviar. No movie stars. And empty pockets. Sandown, you need to woo me.

November 12, 2011

Saturday at Sandown after the Flemington Spring carnival is a bit like visiting your second favourite pub.

You know they do things better down the road, but you’re still happy enough to drop in for a pie and a pint.

It’s the same scenario for State of Origin players, heading back to club footy after a Suncorp Stadium triumph. You have to do it. But it’s not quite the same.

I run into similar problems after Stradbroke Day in Brisbane. Just seven days later, we’re in the massive crowd for Ipswich Cup day. Trying to work out which weekend the favourite was actually set for.

I’ve never been to Sandown. I’m sure it’s pleasant, and that they put on a fine show, like every other big race day in the southern capital.

It should be said, however, that my instinct at this time of year is to spell myself, to recover from the flogging I endured over Cup week.

For the purposes of research only, and in the interest of you, dear reader, I shall ignore that instinct, and saddle up again.

So how do we find a winner, with only the sounds of coins jangling in our pockets? Good question.

In most races, we have to decide whether they were unlucky over the carnival, or just not good enough.

Would they rather be picking buffalo turf in the paddock, reminiscing about chasing a Group One rump, instead of trying for a Group 2 or 3 consolation?

The Sandown Classic provides an annual headache, for those of us still trying to work out how we did so badly in the Melbourne Cup.

Usually, we see a stack of horses backing up from the great race, and every year I forget how the form will stack up.

Stayers who’ve been trained to the minute for the great two-mile race, dropping back in distance at the tricky Sandown track.

No such problems this year. Only five runners will face the starter. How does that happen? Hardly makes for a memorable day.

And that’s a shame. For the first time, the race will be known as the Zipping Classic. Yes, another name change. That great old horse deserved better.

Americain will win easily, at no price. Connections must be giggling. Easy pickings for them, but not much fun for the punter.

I hate to be negative, but the rest of the card is hardly inspiring either. We’ll do our best to find a winner, as always. And it’s still better than fixing the bathroom tiles.

The problem, you see, is that we’ve been spoiled. It’s hard to move on, after the greatest week of racing on the planet. But accept it we must. Remember, there’s only one Cup week.

Yes, it would be nice if we were still at Flemington. No use complaining I suppose. After all, the beer is still cold at your second favourite pub.

The inside word: What Kim Whats-her-face said when she heard about Black Caviar’s big day at Flemington.

November 5, 2011

The Hollywood hand maidens exchanged nervous glances. This wasn’t in the script. Trouble was brewing.

Their girl was a star. Apparently. Los Angeles royalty. The PR types from all those big companies had been begging for her to appear at this race meeting down under.

It took some convincing. What with the reality TV show. Oh, and a marriage. Sort of. How lucky would they be, these Australians at their fancy racing carnival?

Now she was here. With a mood darker than her flowing locks.

The star looked up from the notes they’d assembled for her, and drew breath. This wasn’t going to be pretty.

“Like, what do you MEAN, that like, some HORSE will be, like, more popular than ME?”

The highly paid helpers tried to soothe their meal ticket. Giant doses of spin were needed, fast.

“Kim, honey, you know that could never be the case. Your face is on billboards around the world. You have your own line of handbags. A horse could NEVER be more popular than you.”

Another chimed in. “Kim, darling, what are you thinking? It’s a smelly horse, that doesn’t even have a line of perfume. And from what I’m hearing, her arse is ENORMOUS!”

They were on a roll. “Kim, sweetie, once you’re frocked up and waltzing around the racetrack, they’ll forget all about some freakish mare.”

The star wasn’t being distracted. She knew what she’d heard. From one of those pesky Aussie journos.

“Like, that horribly dressed man said that this horse has, like, never been beaten. And that she is, like, the best in the world. And that thousands come to, like, cheer her, and, like, wave flags for her. Tell me NOW, like, is he telling the truth?”

There was a shuffling of feet in the penthouse. The truth could end a career.

The silence was crippling. They were saved, by a loud knock. Room service. All sprouts, and tofu, and yoghurt. With a young Aussie steering the tray.

“Hey, aren’t you that American sheila from the TV. The one with the crazy family that wouldn’t work in an iron lung?”

The assistants were stunned. No-one spoke like that to their princess. But the boy was on a roll.

“So you’re off to Flemington today, to see our Mighty Mare, eh?” (Yes, he was a Queenslander). “She’s the best thing since sliced bread, our Black Caviar. We adore her. Today will be 16 straight. With the eyes of the world on her. How special is that!”

Finally, the helpers jumped from their comfy lounges, and hurled the excited race fan into the corridor. But it was too late. The damage had been done.

“Like, that’s IT”, Kim said coldly. “Get me out of here, like, NOW. There’s no way I’ll be a support act to a goddamn horse, even if her arse IS bigger than mine”.

So was the tale of an American reality TV star almost making it to Flemington. On the day Australia’s wonder horse will add to her amazing record. Before a crowd that will match Cup day. Kim won’t be among them.

And that’s a good thing. No overseas stars needed today. The biggest star of all will do her thing, on the turf. And every single person on course will be screaming her name.

Trust me Kim, you made the right decision in going home. Most of those at the track wouldn’t have known your name.

And here’s a tip. Your helper got it dead right. The mighty mare’s behind IS enormous. And, like, we’ll be cheering it all the way home.

Finally, the official mug punter’s Melbourne Cup guide. By the biggest mug punter of them all.

October 31, 2011

Are you being laughed at for your lack of Melbourne Cup knowledge? Kids being teased at school because mum and dad missed the barrier draw? Friend, help is at hand.

Face it, we all want to back the Cup winner. Even for a dollar. Bragging rights can last for years.

You need something easy to digest, with no punches pulled. And here it is. The first annual Hold All Tickets Melbourne Cup guide.

I hear scornful giggles. Fair enough, my Cup record isn’t flash. Before the great Makybe Diva, we go back to Kiwi in 1983. There may have been one or two in between, but my memory of Cup afternoons is hazy at best.

Anyway, here we go. A highly researched document, some of which may or may not have been made up.

1/ Americain – Gerald Mosse (jockey). Won last year. Won’t win this year. Too much weight. And I can’t pronounce the trainer’s name.

2/ Jukebox Jury – Neil Callan. Big wraps overseas, but has never raced here. Would be like backing Meat Loaf to sing at a footy grand final. As if that would happen.

3/ Dunaden – Craig Williams (appeal pending), or some French bloke. Not for me. Won the Geelong Cup, now a popular form race. Except Geelong’s population is the same as Ipswich. I won’t be backing the Ipswich Cup winner either.

4/ Drunken Sailor – Dwayne Dunn. Nope. But anything with ‘drunk’ in the title on Cup day is worth a cheer.

5/ Glass Harmonium – Lisa Cropp. Should be leading early. Will be overtaken like there’s a sniper in the Flemington grandstand about 600 metres from home.

6/ Manighar – Damien Oliver. No chance. Only because he was my initial tip. Even the great D. Oliver won’t overcome that hurdle.

7/ Unusual Suspect – Nash Rawiller (appeal pending), or any small bloke with riding boots. A visitor from the U-S. Not even with help from NASA.

8/ Fox Hunt – Silvestre de Sousa. I think the jockey played for Portugal in the soccer World Cup. Can someone check that for me?

9/ Lucas Cranach – Corey Brown. Great run in the Caulfield Cup. And that was on three legs. Fully fit now. Will give this a shake. (Note, that’s a racing term).

10/ Mourayan – Hugh Bowman. The winner. Go and collect now. Order the Chinese for Tuesday night. Bowman’s riding so well he could go out on a rocking horse and still run a place.

11/ Precedence – Darren Beadman. Bart’s best hope. The horse hasn’t won since Bob Hawke was Prime Minister. Will have support from above.

12/ Red Cadeaux – Michael Rodd. The jockey is a Queenslander. At least that’s something.

13/ Hawk Island – Glyn Schofield. Couldn’t win if he started an hour early.

14/ Illo – Jim Cassidy. German horse, trained by Bart, and ridden by jockey who has won the Cup twice. No third time lucky.

14/ (a) – Mister Ed – Wilbur. Would give the best post-race interview ever. Might be a bit old now.

15/ Lost in the Moment – William Buick. Has all the pace of me striding home from an afternoon at the tavern. Possibly with better steering.

16/ Modun – Kerrin McEvoy. Jockey is another winning plenty of late. Just as well, because he won’t be saluting here.

17/ At First Sight – Steven King. Two jockeys tossed a coin to ride him. Nice throwback to ANZAC tradition. That gives him a chance.

18/ Moyenne Corniche – Brett Prebble. My outsider. Saw him score an amazing win in the UK before he came over. Jockey knows his way around the big track. Include him in multiples. (Note – another racing term).

19/ Saptapadi – Chris Symons. If you get him in a sweep you’ll get your money back for last. They might have to delay the start of the next race he’ll be so far back.

19/ (a) Phar Lap – Jim Pike. He’d lap this lot. God bless the mighty horse.

20/ Shamrocker – Luke Nolen. Black Caviar’s jockey. He’ll notice the difference.

21/ The Verminator – Craig Newitt. When did the Wyong Cup winner claim the Melbourne Cup? On the First of Never, that’s when.

22/ Tullamore – Chris Munce. Brisbane Cup winner. Queensland jockey. Trained by Gai. Will try his heart out.

23/ Niwot – Dean Yendall. Made the field with a slashing win last Saturday. Stranger things have happened.

24/ Older Than Time – Tim Clark. And will take his time to finish. Hopefully before sundown.

So, there we have it. You are now a Cup expert. Feel free to pass these expert comments on. Go and have fun taking on colleagues who pretend they know what they’re talking about.

Time now to look at the rest of the day’s races. Does anyone know if that Portuguese soccer player is riding in the last?