IS JOE PRIDE A “MASTER OF HIS TRADE” – AND WHAT HAPPENED TO DECENT “FINGER FOOD”?

17/06/14

You know Wayne Wilson’s words that I wrote last week upon his sad passing of “a difference of opinion is what makes the world go round” came home to roost again only last Sunday – just 72 hours after I’d penned the original story – when on Racing Retro Sydney based thoroughbred trainer Joe Pride was named as “a master of his trade”. Good grief I must admit that I nearly fell off my chair when I heard that statement, as if you asked me to name the top 10 thoroughbred trainers that were plying their trade along the eastern seaboard of Australia, the name Joe Pride most certainly wouldn’t get a gig. If fact so it’s not ancient history, punters wouldn’t have been too impressed with Mr Pride as recently as about 17 hours before the statement was made on Racing Retro, after his horse Keep Cool hadn’t looked likely on 31 May at Rosehill when he clocked in ninth of 12 to Transonic, yet he came out last Saturday at $14 and never looked in danger. Punters are hard markers and a ninth to first what some would call “form reversal” wouldn’t be popular.

I fancy Joe Pride’s best horse in life-to-date has arguably been Rain Affair. I’d describe Rain Affair as “a top class sprinter on a given day”. The problem is that he doesn’t have his “given day” too often and under the guidance of Joe Pride, Rain Affair has scored just one win in the last 26 months, in 16 starts in that timeframe.

Now with the greatest of respect, Billy Bloggs from the back of Bourke, or even me, could have surely won one city race with Rain Affair in that timeframe. And in fact in those 16 starts, a bit of quick research shows that Rain Affair has got rolled no fewer than seven times at short odds, at 7/4 – second, 1/2 – fifth, 7/4 – eighth, 8/11 – third, 13/8 – sixth, 4/1 – eleventh and 5/1 – tenth.

I’ll let my website readers determine for themselves if calling Joe Pride “a master of his trade” is factual or not. As far as I’m concerned, all I’ll say is “from all the tripe that gets written and spoken in thoroughbred racing, it’s no wonder I am continually shaking my head in dismay”.

Then at Ipswich last weekend I just shook my head a bit more when Alma’s Fury beat Masthead in the Eye Liner Stakes. Both a total non-achiever in recent times as Alma’s Fury hadn’t won a race for 15 months and was sent to Brisbane where it seems it’s akin to taking your child along to have a go at shooting ducks at sideshow alley, with crooked sights whereby “every player wins a prize”. Alma’s Fury came to Ipswich last Saturday off form of 0-6-8-6-5-3-3-7-6-7-8-7 and wins and in victory he beat Masthead, which had been deported to Australia from Singapore recently, rather than face the firing squad for being a non-winner over there. Masthead had won just one of his previous 22 starts before he stepped out heavily backed in the Eye Liner and his only win in the last 28 months was at Kranji on 19/5/13. He’s run nine seconds in those 22 starts. Fair dinkum, across Australian stores, Harvey Norman doesn’t have that many seconds in their entire white goods range. And given the first two in the Eye Liner Stakes blitzed the rest, it might be an idea for owners and trainers with horses in that race to set up covert camera surveillance around their stables to see if any of their horses are exclaiming “e-orr, e-orr” in the dead of night, whilst the trainer is pushing out zeds next to his or her beau?

This year’s awful Eye Liner Stakes came just 12 months after the woeful 2013 Eye Liner when South Australian champion Conservatorium beat Meet George and Pellegrini pointlessly, as Conservatorium had two lengths to spare on the line when the judge called a halt and told them to go and be hosed off. Conservatorium hadn’t won for over 20 months before he came to Ipswich and won the Eye Liner and now Alma’s Fury was a slightly shorter 15-month timeframe away from the winner’s list before scoring in the Eye Liner, so is it getting to become a better race?

Then there was the Ipswich Cup. When Anagold won that shocking race last year, her victory did precious little to curb the male suicide rate in this country, as blokes leapt to their death all over the country. Naturally Anagold has never won a race since in 10 starts for “champion trainer” Mick Price. In racing, if a thoroughbred looks like a cat, walks like a cat, smells like a cat – he or she is probably a cat. In victory Anagold beat High Kin and Za Magic. Neither High Kin nor Za Magic has won a race either since they were placed in the Ipswich Cup of 2013, so what a wonderful trifecta of non-achievers they turned out to be – hopeless – with a capital “H”.

I think I’ve finally worked out why everyone gets on the soup on Ipswich Cup day. If they are all half or three-quarters sozzled, they can stand there and imagine that La Tikka Rosa coming from last in the first race is Bernborough charging home in the 1946 Doomben 10,000. If they watch Brave Ali lead all the way to win an Ipswich Cup they can think it’s C Small and Vo Rogue winning another Australian Cup at Flemington in 1990 and if they’ve had enough soup they wouldn’t even realize they run in the other direction in Melbourne.

Anyone that attended the Ipswich Cup meeting last Saturday and is now feeling depressed after suddenly realizing they paid way too much to get into some of those hospitality tents, to have awful “finger food” which looks like something resembling road kill wrapped in miniature vol-au-vents and coated in a sickening gherkhin chutney, or who is feeling down from simply listening to urgers who advised them to back bad horses on the day in feature races – can call Lifeline on 131114. In fact the more functions that I attend around the broader community, the more I’m convinced if you eat some of the stuff you get offered, that you’d be an even money chance of dropping dead within 24 hours of eating it. When Flossie approaches me with a tray of this “killer finger food” and a beaming smile baring her molars to the breeze, like she wishes I’d ask to take her to the Greek Isles for a week, I generally smile and say “no thanks” whilst inside my stomach is screaming “anything will do – just eat something – they are not going to bring sausage rolls out, or cheerios that you can dunk in tomato sauce, the world has obviously moved on from that bygone era – you old fossil”.

Justracing has come up with an exclusive idea for the Ipswich Cup going forward and given the quality of this year’s field, I’m sure both Racing Queensland administrators and Ipswich Turf Club officials along with the entire thoroughbred community around Australia will be excited at the prospect of my idea coming to fruition from the 2015 version onwards. That story will go up here either tomorrow or Thursday – or both – as it’s a biggie.

Today on www.brisbaneracing.com.au there’s the second of four consecutive days of photos from Marburg harness racing last Saturday and the Ipswich Cup meeting. On www.sydneyracing.com.au David Clarkson reports in from Sweden with his fascinating story for the week with associated photography, whilst on www.melbourneracing.com.auVictorian racing is perused.

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