Today we bid farewell to Matt Nicholls (pictured) and thank him for his wonderful website contribution for over three years. Sadly Matt has lost interest in racing which is unfortunate. He was able to bring Australia an "exclusive" regarding Queensland politician Billy Gordon recently in his role as a newspaper journalist, so hopefully he'll have more "exclusive" stories come his way in that capacity. His final story is up on the Melbourneracing website today - and we wish him well in the future.
Today is in some ways a sad day in the 18-year history of the Justracing website, as Matt Nicholls who has written for the Melbourneracing website has decided to move on from racing. That’s a shame as he’s been writing for three-odd years and was a valued contributor to the websites in that timeframe. Maybe I’m biased, but I always thought that his Melbourne Cup, Caulfield Cup and Cox Plate previews annually were the best in the industry. He put an enormous amount of time and effort into those three feature race previews. Additionally he was able to give the website a perspective from a young journalist’s viewpoint - given he’s only in his late 20’s.
Matt announced publicly that he was leaving some time back and thoughtfully gave me plenty of notice, which was sincerely appreciated. I publicly thank Matt for his wonderful contribution over some years.
But when a young person like Matt Nicholls makes the decision to walk away from racing that really should sound alarm bells to racing hierarchy, as we need many more young people just like Matt involved in racing. If we don’t have the young people like Matt, or say a young man I’ve had the pleasure of meeting a couple of times from the Gold Coast Bulletin newspaper, Brad Davidson, and people like them - it’s not positive for racing into the future, as we older people will drop off the mortal coil and there will be no one like a Ken Callander to write the hard stories.
As the late Wayne Wilson famously said, “A difference of opinion is what makes the world go round” and the racing industry is generally reported in a positive light by the racing media, yet the broader media, who have no fixed ideas or allegiances can pull the industry to pieces at will. So we need to be our own harshest critic and need to mark ourselves very hard – or others outside the racing industry will do it for us. I always find it really sad that the vast majority of really negative racing stories are broken by journalists or reporters who have nothing to do with racing. The racing industry cumulatively likes to take the “she’ll be right mate” attitude, but generally that’s not the case at all.
Matt Nicholls says he’s lost interest in racing and so it’s not ancient history it’s a no-brainer that even without looking hard I can see a couple of “turn-offs” in getting involved in punting on the ponies tomorrow. For instance what the hell is happening in Melbourne “Saturday city” racing tomorrow? There’s a nine-race card set down for decision at Moonee Valley and big fields are the order of the day. For all intents and purposes if Racing Queensland boss Kevin Dixon was running Victorian racing he’d probably say the thoroughbred industry in Victoria is “bounding along”. And it seemingly is – until you look at the prizemoney that is on offer tomorrow at Moonee Valley - and no fewer than three of the nine races are “half prizemoney races”. So three races at Moonee Valley are worth mid-week style prizemoney of a paltry $40,000 - whilst the other six are worth $80,000 in total prizemoney.
That in essence is what I’d call “disgraceful”. Put simply punters are being treated as mugs by being dished up three crappy races tomorrow. Naturally the club and the TAB aren’t raising the topic as some punters would bet on two flies running up a wall. But smart and professional punters aren’t interested in betting in Benchmark 70 races with a capacity field like Races 4 and 5 are. Fair dinkum punting on those two races would be about as exciting as being presented with a Fat-O-Gram on your birthday at work.
Then if that aforesaid aspect doesn’t paint a bleak picture of the Moonee Valley meeting well switch your attention to the Doomben meeting in Brisbane tomorrow. Go to Race 4, the Eagle Farm Cup, which is being run at Doomben this year. That in itself is a bit Irish. It’s a quarter of a million dollar prizemoney race and it has attracted just seven acceptors. That’s bad enough – but sadly that’s the good news. You see Sydney trainer Chris Waller has five of the seven starters. That’s not Chris’ fault but it’s a race that punters understandably will struggle to warm to, or get excited about.
Those couple of aforesaid aspects that I’ve raised above are reasons that both young and older people alike struggle to see how thoroughbred racing can possibly be going forward.
So in conclusion I can see Matt Nicholls point - and we wish him well in the future.
The Chief Handicapper Lester Grimmett has advised the website that the scaled weights for Doomben tomorrow are: Race 1 + 2kgs, Race 4 + 1kg, Race 6 + 3kgs and Race 8 + 1.5kgs. So in my words, not Lester’s, he’s telling us that the Bright Shadow Handicap (Race 6) is not up to the standard that he historically expects for the race.
Doomben Track Manager Jim Roberts advised the website late this afternoon that the Doomben track was currently a “good 4”. Jim added, “The track has a great coverage of grass and with the good weather that’s been around today and is expected tomorrow (maximum of 27 degrees) it gives it every chance to go to a good 3 at some stage tomorrow. There have been heavy dews this week and there is still moisture in the track, so I’ve been cautious with irrigation and have only given it 6mm for the week”.
As every race at Doomben tomorrow is a black type event, apprentices can’t claim on the day.
For those that aren’t aware the heavily backed Bohemian Lily has been scratched from the Queensland Oaks tomorrow after trainer Gai Waterhouse advised stewards the filly had sustained “a cut below the elbow”.
Today on www.brisbaneracing.com.au there a list of horses that I wouldn't back win only or have on top in exotics tomorrow. On www.sydneyracing.com.au there’s a harness racing story, whilst on www.melbourneracing.com.au Matt Nicholls says goodbye after several years as a valued website contributor.
The Postman has sent his thoughts through on racing tomorrow and they read:
After the luckless run of last week's tip Master of Arts, I'm confident we can make amends tomorrow in the shape of Jessy Belle @ Moonee Valley. This mare has come back very well this prep & should be peaking coming into this 1500m assignment. Her first up effort behind Hazard was very good after being held up for a while in the straight, then finishing off well over 1100m. Hazard went on to win a Group 3 fillies & mares race in Adelaide at her next start. Jessy Belle then stepped up to 1200m @ Caulfield & was taken back early from the wide gate & settled back near the tail 3 wide. Approaching the turn she was forced even wider & rounded the home turn widest of all. Eventual winner Miss Rose De Lago had a much easier run in transit & proved too strong on the line in a busy finish. Jessy Belle finished hard out wide & her final 600m was easily the fastest of the race.
Tomorrow Jessy Belle maps much better stepping out to the 1500m @ Moonee Valley, a track she races very well at. There's an abundance of speed engaged with the likes of Charmed Harmony, Lightenuff, Miss Rose De Lago & Coronation Shallan going forward, so Jessy Belle should be able to settle just behind the speed & well positioned to strike. If jockey Chris Symons can track into the race approaching the turn, I think she can finish over the top of them with a superior turn of foot. She's well weighted, well placed, ready for 1500m & suited around the Valley. I'm confident she can get back in to the winner's circle tomorrow.
Jessy Belle opened around $6, but will shorten with the scratching of Worth a Ransom who ran yesterday @ Sale. I have her marked around 5/2 or $3.50.
Moonee Valley 7-12 Jessy Belle.