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Headlines Today is 02/09/2014
GEAR CHANGE OF THE WEEK [ More Items ]  
Winkers on this horse gives punters a close up view. In the background the horse walking past is wearing blinkers. What great photography!
21/03/06

This week’s gear change is winkers.

Winkers have long been an integral part of the harness racing industry. “Dolly Varden winkers” have been used for decades, but I’ve not been able to find anyone in the harness racing industry who can answer the question how did they come to get the name “Dolly Varden” – was she the sheila who invented them? If any reader knows the answer to that question and can provide proof, can they email me please (Editor note :- ANSWER HAS NOW BEEN RECEIVED AND WILL BE PUT UP ON THE SITE IN FRIDAY NIGHT'S PREVIEW OF SATURDAY RACING).

 

Anyway the thoroughbred winkers are attached to the bridle and marginally impede the rearward view of the horse, but to a lesser degree than blinkers. Winkers are becoming increasingly popular. Some horses improve with the addition of winkers. Last Saturday at Randwick the David Hayes trained Churchill Downs raced with the gear change “winkers on”. The ambulance nearly beat him in, but that wouldn’t have anything to do with the winkers.

 

The previous week in the Group 1 Newmarket at Flemington, Paul Perry put  “winkers on” Stratum and he improved dramatically on his form of 5-9-0 to run 3rd to Takeover Target.

 

Interestingly, David Hayes experiments with winkers quite a lot. He put them on Confectioner on resuming 4/3/06. That’s before he ran 14th of 15 to Fields of Omagh. He then took them off the horse at his next start 11/3/06 and again the horse nearly held up the next.

 

On 11/3/06 the David Hayes trained Econsul carried a gear change “blinkers off, winkers on” and he went like an injured mule.

 

In fairness to the suppliers of  “winkers”, inconsistent horses like Confectioner and Econsul (hasn’t won since 10/04) are unlikely to make a name for their product. Punters should not back these ordinary horses until they see a gear change that reads “heart, leg and lung transplant on”!

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