ETHIOPIA SINGLE-HANDEDLY PROVES HOW STUPID THE CURRENT SYSTEM OF DRAWING UP FIELDS IN THIS COUNTRY IS – PLUS MUCH MUCH MORE

05/02/14

Regarding yesterday’s article on punters leaping to their death after the win by firstly Noogoora Burr then Excellantes, one website reader advised that with the track being upgraded to a good 2 following Race 1, it was indeed interesting that Noogoora Burr could possibly win – as “he’d only once finished in the first two placings in 16 goes on good tracks before last Saturday.”

On the subject of Doomben being upgraded to a good 2 straight after the first race, well done to the officiating stewards for advising punters and the industry in general early in the meeting.

Racing is sure a strange game. At Rosehill last Saturday there’s no question that Red Excitement had been racing well, yet prior to last Saturday he’d had eight starts at Rosehill and had been incapable of winning a race there. Yet last Saturday he had no problem sitting wide the trip and winning.

Down at Caulfield the strangest run of the day came from Race 8 winner Prince of Penzance. I couldn’t understand why stewards didn’t haul the trainer Darren Weir in over the run. At the horse’s previous run jockey Michelle Payne, who also rode the horse last start told stewards at an enquiry that day that the horse “was reluctant to race in the early stages.” Wonder what changed between that day and last Saturday, which allowed the horse to suddenly sit fourth in the run? Do the stable intend to ride the horse close in future? Who’d know – we are none the wiser after last Saturday. In Brisbane stewards were told Noogoora Burr improved in part because the trainer “has made alterations to the feeding regime of the gelding this campaign.” Pity the horse’s trainer hadn’t twigged to that one a couple of years ago or Noogoora Burr might have been running in Group 1’s now. So what made Prince of Penzance jump and sit so close last Saturday? The mind boggles.

Still in Melbourne and Ethiopia got beaten just over 80 (in words so there is no confusion that’s eighty) lengths and naturally he ran tailed off last. The stewards report says he pulled up lame. Given he hasn’t won a race since 14/4/12 – that’s 21 months ago – has this bandit run his last race? Ethiopia single-handedly shows why the Australian thoroughbred racing industry really needs to have a good hard look at the way it does business, as via Ethiopia winning one lousy Group 1 race, 21 months ago, he gets a free right of passage into any race he wishes to contest. That victory in the Australian Derby has been the sole victory in his 16-start career. It was fair enough that that Derby victory got him into the 2012 Melbourne Cup, in which he got beaten over 63 lengths, but one career win in a lifetime should not automatically allow a racehorse to gain a God given right of automatic inclusion in any future race that the owners and/or trainer care to nominate he or she for. In fact Ethiopia is so ordinary that he’s been incapable of even running one solitary placing since he won that race 21 months ago. And given the benefit of hindsight, I wonder has there ever been a worse Australian Derby than that 2012 version, as the horse that Ethiopia beat by a wart – Polish Knight – has been incapable of ever running a place at 10 subsequent starts, meaning cumulatively the quinella pair from that race has started 22 times since that fateful day – and never run a place. Terrific stuff.

Back to the Brisbane meeting at Doomben last Saturday and female claiming apprentices, in order, Rikki Jamieson, Janette Johnson, Priscilla Schmidt and Maija Vance filled the first four placings in Race 3 at the meeting, so is that trend a sign of things to come?

Also at the Doomben meeting the win by Total Authority in Race 7 went pretty much unannounced. The 12/1 chance got there by a short head from Exceedingly, but I’d fancy Total Authority probably created racing history as isn’t she the first racehorse to win 1) on the cushion track at Toowoomba, as well as on 2) the new Strathayr track at Toowoomba, as well as 3) a Brisbane Saturday city grass track? I can’t think of another horse that’s got a win at all three tracks on their CV. Can you? She’s certainly amazingly versatile – in respect of track surfaces.

Talking of Toowoomba, Matt Nicholls did an article on Monday about odds-on favourites getting beaten, but some shorties that went over that readers may have missed were Maypole at $1.35 in Race 4 at Toowoomba Saturday night and Cha Ching Chaching at $1.30 in Race 9 at Albion Park Saturday night. The Capalaba greyhounds last Saturday afternoon proved a graveyard for odds-on favourites. They still work in the old style prices there, but an odds-on favourite went over in each of the first three races if you can believe that statistic? In Race 1 Don’t Stop got rolled at 2/1 on. Bed of Nails went over in the second race at 4/6 and Sir Ken got beaten at 4/6 in Race 3.

From Magic Millions day on the Gold Coast a few weeks ago, many people got excited over what fast overall time the seemingly impressive Maiden winner of Race 1 from that day – Anymore – ran, namely 1.9.37, which was over a length quicker than the 2YO Unencumbered stopped the clock at five races later, when he won the rich Magic Millions 2YO. Given Anymore went to Doomben last Saturday and nearly held up the next race, when racing in the sanctity of his age group, where does that mean Unencumbered sits in the general score of things? Or is all that irrelevant?

Still at Doomben and Race 8 winner Buakaw showed the distinct lack of class that prevails in Brisbane racing presently, as he jumped from a 0MW (no metropolitan win) race, which he couldn’t win at his previous start, straight to a 1MW (one metropolitan win) race and got home, even though going into the1MW race he was eligible for a Class 3 at Dingo.

And last but not least, training honours for the day at Doomben last Saturday surely went to trainer Brian Smith? He didn’t even train a winner at the meeting but he certainly put in a top conditioning effort to get his horse Lost World ready to win first up since 22/11/12 – that’s 14 months. Apprentice Anthony Allen presented the horse at the right time in Race 8 on the card, but the horse was a neck and a short half head off having a victory on the finish line. One has to admire a trainer who can have his horse so competitive after so long off. Lost World firmed in both Darwin and on course, so his good run when resuming was expected.

Today on www.brisbaneracing.com.au there’s the first of two montages of photos from Doomben racing last Saturday, plus others of interest. On www.sydneyracing.com.au there’s the story on the passing of an 81-year-old harness racing man whose grandsons and sons are well-known in the industry. There’s also the story on that website of the researched breeding of New Zealand’s richest race winner of the year, whilst on www.melbourneracing.com.au Victorian thoroughbred and harness racing is perused.

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