“Whew” is all we can say for turning down an invitation to attend the Caulfield Cup meeting yesterday. Instead, we decided to stay put and study the form for our debut as The Three Amigos of Tipping for today’s races at Shatin. Tipping: Good grief, it’s so hugely overrated and with the bragging rights, especially on Twitter, often being tough to stomach. Even for The Three Amigos.
As for Caulfield and the “bank” that the pundits in the land Down Under described as early as Wednesday to be a simple “take-in and take-out job”, alas, it crashed and burnt when the odds-on favourite in race one- the Waterhouse-Bott-trained Sylphees ridden by Damien Oliver failed to even run a place. It was an epic fail.
Maybe we’ve been in Hong Kong too long, or else have a different way of looking at what we want to get out of racing- a reasonably big profit- but we just don’t understand persisting in betting when, for example, it was obvious that a strong wind had knocked the stuffing out of every horse backed in the first three races at Caulfield. The first three winners paid $12.50, $16.20 and almost $28, respectively. Even those with “mail” were down and out before even getting started.
As for “attacking” the quaddie for a 30-40 percent flexi bet by taking 6-7 horses in each leg, well that paid a little over $400 with the hotpot in the third leg- Hellbent- withdrawn very late in the innings which didn’t exactly please trainer Darren Weir nor those who took the horse one out in their bets.
Note: That ship of fools known as Tabcorp needs to change many things. Now. Like ensuring the computers their phone operators use actually work, that it hires more phone operators, and that its archaic “substitute rules” are no longer foisted on its customers. Thanks, but no thanks. We’re not mugs and don’t like being taken for a ride. Darren Weir is not the only one who should have had a meltdown about Hellbent having to be withdrawn. So should every customer/punter who inherited a substitute when their original choice came out. Why?Hellbent being withdrawn was not the fault of the punter. At least refund the money placed on every exotic bet that included the Weir runner. Tabcorp- and racing clubs- always forget that every aspect of horse racing would be nothing without Punter Power.
On the subject of punting, what’s hard to comprehend is why so many continue to stick to one course of action- and one modus operandi when it comes to the punt. For example, when winners are almost impossible to find on one track, why not look at other races taking place every other minute all over the land down under, where there are no wind problems, and it’s much easier to follow the odds, and a jockey like Jamie Kah who was riding in devastating form yesterday albeit not at Caulfield. A winner is a winner is a winner anywhere.
Caulfield Cup day, meanwhile, was a triumph for Blake Shinn. He read the track exceptionally well and delivered a well executed treble. Only the pettiest of people would begrudge him of his Big Day Out.
As for the Caulfield Cup, it was won extremely easily and very impressively by the Ciaron Maher-trained and Nick Hall-ridden Jameka. We might be late jumping on the bandwagon, but we’re tipping big things for Ciaron Maher- and not just in Oz.
Something that has intrigued us are punters looking for value in horse racing, a noble pursuit, but one where one must surely be realistic. There are horses with real winning chances offering value, and others going off at cricket score odds that even Quasimodo with all those bells clanging around him can see have no chances. Why can’t many see the difference? Still, to each their own. There’s always method to everyone’s madness when it comes to the punt. Even Quasimodo.
And so we come to Sha Tin, where all eyes will be on Pakistan Star, and whether he can conjure up another last to first win by floating down the outside and giving his competitors severe windburn. And why not?
Though racing up a class and meeting stronger opposition, at least to us, the only possible dangers are Mr Bogart (Chad Schofield) and Solar Hei Hei (Brett Prebble)- and Matthew Chadwick suffering brain freeze. Or the headstrong Pakistan Star digging his hooves in and deciding that he isn’t in the mood to race. It happens. But we doubt it will. It should be the perfect ending to a good card of racing and where one might not become an instant millionaire, but could go home a winner with a decent return on investment for the four hours spent on horse racing.
And before tripping out into the world of tips and traps, here are some of highlights from our Twitterverse and why we think Sara Cox, apart from being very likeable, is smart, such a good sport, and great for horse racing. We love her to bits! And like fawning girlie men!
TIPS FOR SHA TIN THIS AFTERNOON
With six first starters in a twelve horse field over 1000 metres, recommended is a watching brief and a small Quartet bet.
Debutant Starlot (9) is on top as it’s trialled well and appears over the odds odds whereas it’s always difficult to ignore a John Size newcomer- Premiere (7)- which could win without surprising. Moreira’s mount Cheer Win (4) is ridiculously short in the market while last start winner Sea Jade (1) could run into the placings. But purely with the future in mind, we’ll be looking at an impressive Premiere from Starlot.
Apart from Polymer Luck (1) with Zac Purton aboard, this is pretty much of a lottery- a typical Class 5 race, where huge reversals of form and the totalisator board lighting up and having some close encounters of the winning kind won’t surprise. These are the races targeted for those extraterrestrial betting plunges that, more often than not, come off to audible gasps of “Waaah! Sai lay Ahhhh!”
New kid on the block- ten pound claiming apprentice Dylan Mo- is yet to get off the mark. With his mount Good Method (11) down over twenty pounds in the weights compared to its last start win, this is another of those low class races that the extraterrestrials attack with incredibly precise timing. And with Bob Dylan having just won the Nobel Prize for Literature, take this as an omen that Dylan Mo will ride his first winner in Hong Kong in this race- and at spaced out odds, said the joker to the thief.
Like Stella, Hong Kong’s only female rider Kei Chiong has got her groove back, and should fight the quinella out with Joao Moreira. If not for this being the first leg of the first Double Trio, the recommendation would be to hold your horses. But looking like a relatively easy start to the Double Trio, it’s worth a little flutter- though, in horse racing, looks can be deceiving, Sherlock.
The second leg of the Double Trio and the first leg of the Triple Trio- so many legs!!!- where there’s a jackpot of HK$3m which should see the pool at least doubling, this is a bet well worth attacking- and including some real roughies as legs. Again, more legs.
The second leg of the Triple Trio and the first leg of the Six Up- crikey, MORE legs- where Joao Moreira on Invention Master (7) looks a safe banker for the first bet- meaning it should run in the first three. Can it win and keep your Six Up hopes alive? This, we’re not sure about. Take around five choices in this race, especially Xinhang Yarn (2), Cool And Neat (6) and the very interesting John Size-trained debutant Unicron Jewellery. Yes, Unicron. Not Unicorn.
The last leg of the Triple Trio and probably the most difficult race on the card. Keith Yeung didn’t give Redwood Baby (5) the best of rides at its last start, and, according to the local racing grapevine, is out to make amends for connections on a galloper that should have gone onto better things. Maybe it will today- and at good odds?
Another of those all-weather races where great caution is advised, Grasshopper.
An open, even looking race over 1400 metres where the Dickie Gibson trained Winfield, and drawn barrier one, should offer the Zac Attack a gun ride. What the hell is a gun ride and gun rider, anyway? Bang bang, shoot shoot, and Blazing Saddles, Cher.
Another 1000 metres dash with horses drawn the outside having the shorter way home. Adventurer (9) is a specialist over this distance and has zoomed to the front and clung on for apprentice Jack Wong. Moreira takes over, and though it will again lead, Adventurer might just be running out of puff at the end of the race. This just might give another short course specialist in Bad Boy with good boy Sam Clipperton aboard, the chance to finish all over the top of them.
The race everyone wishes to see and starring cult hero Pakistan Star. Someone overseas mentioned that there’s always a danger of team riding and where the James Dean of Hong Kong racing, a moody, reflective, rebel with a cause, might be caught up in a web of intrigue and tangled up in blue. We doubt it. No rider with any sense will even think of doing this to a horse trained by the great Tony Cruz, Hong Kong’s favourite racing son. That won’t be cool, man. It also won’t be cool, man, to mess around with a potential equine Super Freak. Just sit back, watch the show, and if you haven’t already, book your flight to Longines Hong Kong International Races Week.
Race 10: Bad Boy (2)
Race 9: Winfield (6)
Race 7: Redwood Baby (5)
SIX UP (2)