And on the Seventh Day, someone decided we’d have race meetings..

March 23, 2013

I’m old enough to remember when we didn’t race on a Sunday.

Some of you will find that hard to believe. No races anywhere. Nothing.

Horses would stay at home. Trainers and jockeys would do other things. Like go to church. Or the pub. Or they’d go to church, and then the pub.

I can remember Mum and Dad sitting at the kitchen table on a Sunday morning, going over the Saturday results. There’d usually be a hard-luck story somewhere. But never the chance to have another bet.

I have a fair idea how they would have reacted to Sunday racing. The old man would have shook his head. Bloody madness, he’d mutter. Mum would be working out where she could have a sneaky double.

It’s all so different now. We’re in action every day. Sometimes night and day. I’m torn about whether that’s a good thing.

I know plenty of industry participants who hate Sunday racing. Trainers who don’t get a day off. Jockeys who have to travel hours, for a few more rides. If they don’t go, they risk losing favour with the boss.

I know where they’re coming from. Few other sports compete every single day. Maybe with the exception of darts. And they’re allowed refreshments.

Another part of me enjoys the Sunday action. It lacks the intensity of a busy Saturday. A few late flutters over a cool drink can be fun.

I’m frequently drawn to the action in the West. Late in the day, listening to an old-time band at my favourite pub.

Of course, we can go further afield with ease. They’ll be going their hardest in Hong Kong and Singapore. I can hear Dad muttering again.

It’s all about revenue. The more meetings, the more turnover, the more cash coming back. And it doesn’t matter how much anyone complains, it won’t be changing anytime soon.

We have our bloke running around tomorrow, an hour away from the city. Of course, that means it will rain tonight, and the track will be a bog. Regular readers will understand.

I won’t be there. Too bloody hard to get organised late on a Sunday arvo. I’ll be in that pub instead, with some country classics being belted out. I’ll find a screen, and cheer the house down if we can turn things around.

So here’s the deal. If we win, I’ll be a great supporter of Sunday racing. If we get rolled once more, the industry needs to have a long hard look at itself. Yep, Dad is shaking his head again.

Introducing a Kiwi who won’t choke this Spring. A jockey you should be backing.

September 10, 2011

Punters are a funny lot.

We don’t stray too far from what we know.

Routine is everything. We’re loyal to trainers that do the right thing by us. Those who let us down? Welcome to the Never Again club.

We’ll ban courses that we don’t like. And complain about track bias. I have weeds the size of palm trees at home, but I pretend to know exactly how short the grass should be at Randwick.

And of course, we have our favourite jockeys. They’d be the ones who regularly fill our pockets with folding stuff.

For every hoop we worship, there’s another we wouldn’t support with free fifties. A bit like dentists. Once you find one that doesn’t inflict too much pain, you don’t need to visit another.

I know blokes who won’t back female jockeys. No matter how good they are. Others can’t cop apprentices. The old story; claim 3 kilos, put 4 back on.

You could be aiming a gun at me and I still wouldn’t back a European rider during carnival time. I’ll tell you this much. They lose more than they win.

So we stick to Nolen, and Oliver, and Rawiller, and Brown, and Munce.

Well, here’s another. If you’re not backing him, you should be.

Damian Browne is no spring chicken. He’s been around the block more than once. But he’s good. Bloody good.

Bart Sinclair gave him a wrap this week. And Rob Heathcote has been singing his praises to anyone who’ll listen.

If Brisbane’s top trainer finally cracks it for an overdue Group One this Spring, you can bet it will be Browne doing the steering.

Plenty of keen punters are awake to him now. But others still leave him out, when the discussion moves to our best jockeys. That puzzles me.

A good judge and I started backing him a few years back. We’d found ourselves in a pub on a Sunday afternoon. That was unusual for both of us, so we celebrated with cool drinks and a flutter.

My mate had been told good things by another jockey. Both Kiwis. We decided not to hold that against them. It was a wise decision.

That Sunday meeting wasn’t the best ever held at the Sunshine Coast. But Damian kept riding winners. Four of them. And we were on the lot.

We followed him in the weeks ahead, and his amazing strike rate continued. Often at odds.

There have been problems along the way. He’s no lightweight. And lady luck has been anything but kind.

He shouldn’t be walking. The same leg, broken twice in two years. They patched him up with plates and screws, and told him to find another hobby.

Browne ignored them. Typical Kiwi. It took an age, but he came back.

For a while he was restricted to 4 rides a meeting. He was in pain too. Didn’t complain though. He’d convinced himself there were better times ahead.

How right he was. The jockey formerly known as DJ in the form guide, is riding winners all over the place.

There is a coolness under pressure, that you see with the greats. He doesn’t panic. Ever. I can’t remember seeing him go early.

Horses just travel for him. Soft hands. And he stays out of trouble. Very rare to see a horse where it shouldn’t be. You won’t hear hard luck tales from him, because he makes his own luck.

Today he’s on show at Mooney Valley. On the top Heathcote chances, Buffering and Woorim. He’ll stay with them through the carnival, and a few others too.

Buffering is the bulldog. Heathcote loves this horse. They’ll need to be at their best to grab him today.

And Woorim? My favourite horse. Just watch what Browne does with him as they approach the corner. It will be pretty.

I hope you find room to include the little Kiwi from Queensland in your racing routine. He’ll get you a dollar or two. If not today, in the weeks ahead.

Unless, of course, the curse of the World’s Worst Punter strikes. They have to be good to carry my support. Wish him luck. He’s been through enough already.