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 I strained my ear to the radio, to hear that one of racing’s greatest, had been replaced by some kid I’d never heard of.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 Boss Man does it again. Why you must follow him in the big races this Spring.

September 29, 2012

Bossy got me out of strife again. I’ve lost count of how many times that is now.

It was at Caulfield. On one for Peter Snowden, as the shadows were lengthening, and my pocket was emptying.

He’d ridden a Group One winner a few hours earlier. And no-one was the least bit surprised.

There are some footballers who love finals time. It brings out the best in them. Glen Boss comes alive in the Spring.

We all have our favourite racing memories. Mostly, it’s about the horses.

I have a heap of them. Black and white vision of Gunsynd saluting in the 1972 Doncaster. Kiwi and the Pumper storming home in the 1983 Melbourne Cup. Super Impose doing the impossible in the 1991 Epsom. Black Caviar raising the roof at Doomben.

Stirring efforts from wonderful animals. But tucked away in my treasure trove, is a memory of an amazing performance from a jockey.

The day Bossy drove Makybe Diva down that long Flemington straight to win her third consecutive Melbourne Cup, was special for so many reasons.

The obvious, of course. The mighty mare setting a record that will never be conquered.

But it was the effort of the jockey that stays in my mind. Surely we’ve never expected so much from a single ride. Pressure most will never come close to experiencing.

Lee Freedman called it the perfect performance. Said it should be dusted off in years to come, and shown to every young hoop.

Boss left nothing to chance. Zero trouble. No hard luck stories, on the biggest of stages.

He’d done it many times before. None of that mattered on this day. Perfection was all that could be accepted.

He delivered. She won. A nation cheered. They deliberately took their time coming back to scale, this pair of champions. The cheering got louder.

The mare nodded her magnificent head to the frenzied crowd. And Bossy did a jig. Right there in the saddle. He waved his skinny arms, and smiled the smile of a man who had given his all.

How easy it would have been to take the foot off the pedal after that remarkable day. So many others would have. Not G. Boss.

He’s incredibly driven, this proud Queenslander. You only need to watch him before a race to see that. And the bigger the event, the steelier the resolve.

Don’t call him a veteran. That’s what we label old fellas. Experienced is a far better term.

The leading trainers will battle for his attentions over the coming weeks. Take note when he jumps on one. There are more big winners ahead.

One of them might just be Southern Speed in the Caulfield Cup. Bossy’s taken the ride, as the South Australian looks to win the race two years running. I hadn’t given her much hope. Now I do.

None of that will worry the jockey. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t care too much what others think. He’s ready to create more memories for a new generation of racegoers. And get me out of strife yet again.

The perils of change. And replacement jockeys. Another way for punters to do their dough.

September 24, 2011

I loathe change.

Call me a creature of habit. And proud of it. At home, and work, and on the punt.

Giggle if you like. I don’t mind. I’m old and I can take your barbs.

I just think there’s something to be said for routine. And nowhere is it more important than the sporting arena.

My heart sinks when a halfback pulls out of a footy team. There goes the game plan.

Watch a decent cricket side when a new wicket keeper comes in. Nothing is smooth, no matter how talented the gloveman might be.

In the racing game, I would suggest that change should be avoided whenever possible. Or you’ll end up with loose change.

Late switches? Disastrous. Avoid like the plague. If it involves a jockey, run from the room and wave your arms in the air.

You know where I’m heading here. Although we’ve gone around the block to get there. Smart Missile today at Caulfield. Minus an injured Glen Boss.

His replacement is one of the world’s best. Brett Prebble is a gun. I’d back him anywhere he’s riding. But not today.

Here’s my theory. Based on absolutely no scientific evidence. Horses get to know their jockeys. They relax just that little bit more with a buddy up top. Especially the good ones.

Think Greg Childs and Sunline. Nolen and Black Caviar. Boss and Makybe Diva. Cassidy and Might and Power. They go better for those they know.

I can hear you chortling. Yes, they were champions anyway. Yes, they had other jockeys ride them. But you’re missing my point. And yes, I have one.

Smart Missile, the 3-year-old with a mind of his own, will be looking for Bossy this afternoon. His voice, and his touch. Instead, he’ll get Prebble. A bloke who was in Hong Kong yesterday.

I can hear you screaming examples to prove what a fool I am. Well, save your breath. I have my own painful story.

Yes, this policy has brought me unstuck big time before. Guess who the jockey was? G Boss.

It was the 1995 Golden Slipper. In the weeks before, I’d been following an unpredictable Freedman colt at long odds. Flying Spur.

He drew the inside gate in the Slipper. Jim Cassidy had the ride. At the time, no-one was riding better than the Pumper.

I’d declared him to anyone silly enough to listen. A major collect was looming. Until disaster struck.

The Pumper was outed the day before the big race. The infamous Jockey Tapes affair. Replaced by a young bloke from Queensland.

It was too much for me. As much as I thought the horse was the best in the field, I couldn’t bring myself to embrace the late change.

You know the rest. Flying Spur, with Boss riding for his life, saluted at 25 to 1. Beat Octagonal. I watched the tragedy unfold in a Cairns pub. And cried.

Did I learn my lesson? No. And over time, despite that horrible mistake, I reckon results have averaged my way, whenever change has been in the wind.

So, no Smart Missile for me today. It will be Woorim’s day. With his trusted jockey, Damian Browne, up top. Snug as a pair of old boots. First Group 1 for Rob Heathcote. Start chilling stubbies at the stables now.

I’m happy for you to tell me how wrong I am. Just not right now. I’m reading the papers. And you can’t change routine.