Horse Racing: 5 questions for the anti-racing lobby (and associated keyboard warriors / bandwagoners)

Yesterday the Melbourne Cup was run and won at Flemington.  In the aftermath of the race two horses sadly passed away.  In case you missed the news:

  • Admire Rakti collapsed after the race in his stall and died on course.
  • Araldo was spooked by a spectator on the way back to the mounting yard, suffered multiple leg fractures and had to be euthanized at the Werribee Vet clinic.

The death of these horses is a stomach wrenching event that no true fan of the sport of horse racing will consider with anything other than sadness.

Unfortunately, and not surprisingly, the loss of the horses has been used as a launching pad for an assault on the sport of horse racing by both the protest lobby that is a constant in the horse racing industry and the usual key board warriors looking for 30 seconds of social media fame.

Let me be clear here: I am a horse racing fan.  I have been since my grandfather Col first talked to me about racing as we listened the scratching report on a Saturday morning when I was a 10 year old.

Even if I was not such a fan though I would be absolutely infuriated by the response from those with everything gain but no investment in the industry taking advantage of the death of these two horses.  To those taking said advantage I want to ask 5 questions:

  1. Do you concede that the death of Araldo, if fault is to be vested for the horse’s death, rests with the idiot waving a large flag at the horses and the lax security staff that allowed the flag to be in the race course? Could you explain to me how that conduct is the fault of the horse racing industry?
  2. Thoroughbred horses are bred for the principal purpose of racing under a saddle.  In addition to racing, Thoroughbreds compete in eventing, show jumping and dressage at the highest levels of international competition, including the Olympics. They are also used as show hunters, steeplechasers, and in western riding speed events such as barrel racing. Do you intend also to seek a ban of EVERY event a thoroughbred horse competes in?
  3. Do you also protest, or intend to protest, injuries and fatalities that befall other types of horses such as injuries and fatalities that occur in farming? By extension do you intend to seek a ban of horses being used in working contexts? Horses are beautiful animals but they are also fragile and injuries happen to them in many contexts outside of horse racing.
  4. Do you also protest, or intend to protest, the slaughter of animals bred to provide meat and other products humans eat and drink? If you decry the death of an animal bred to race surely you must also protest the death of an animal bred for meat?
  5. There are no definitive statistics as to the number of humans who have died playing sport in 2014.  You maintain statistics for the number of deaths of thoroughbred horses so I assume you have access to the same statistics for humans? Do you intend to protest and seek a ban of every sport in which a human died in 2014?

I am advocate for debate in every form but I am an even stronger advocate for a balanced debate.  When the anti-racing lobby and their hangers on can answer the questions above cogently then I will listen to their arguments: until then their approach smacks of sensationalism as best and woeful opportunism at worst.

The fact is that yesterday two horses, bred to race, died at a horse racing carnival, one as a result of being spooked by an alleged fan of horse racing.  As a fan of horse racing I remain gutted at the loss of these horses and my condolences go out to the horses’ connections.  Your loss should be honoured rather than used as a pulpit.

Melbourne Cup 2014: Tip Sheet

It is the race that stops a nation and around the country today there will be many who stop the humdrum of their daily work to watch a thoroughbred race over 3200 metres from the famous Flemington track.  This is a truly great day in sport, not just Australian sport, and, frankly, if you are not a fan of this day of sport I simply say don’t read any further!

Melbourne Cup Day is a historically tough day on the punt and that being the case my investments will necessarily be smaller than on the other big days of racing during the year.

Here are my tips for Melbourne Cup Day 2014:

Melbourne Cup, Race 7

Best Bet:

Signoff (Number 24): Have been following this horse for a while and loved his run in the Lexus to get into the Cup.  Carrying the lightest weight in the race and carrying one of the best jockeys in the world I love this horse’s chances in the great race.

Best Value:

Red Cadeaux (Number 4): It is pretty simple, this horse seems to grow a leg in the friendly confines of Flemington and has come second in the last two runnings of this race. Paying $20ish in fixed price markets this horse is the best each way bet of the day.

Mega First Four:

It wouldn’t be the Melbourne Cup without having a wager in the first four.  With 24 horses in the race the first four is oft a lottery and that means both that it pays to include a lot of horses whilst there is a prospect of jagging a big dividend. I have picked 10 horses that I will be boxing in the first four as follows:

Admire Rakti (Number 1)
Fawkner (Number 3)
Red Cadeaux (Number 4)
Protectionist (Number 5)
Mutual Regard (Number 11)
Willing Foe (Number 13)
Au Revoir (Number 18)
Opinion (Number 20)
Lucia Valentina (Number 22)
Signoff (Number 24)
You will need to put some money into this to get a return but if this first does get up I am more than a bit certain that it will get put you back in spades.
Exotic Special
I have been thinking a lot about how this race might pan out.  There is a very good chance that the favourite, Admire  Rakti, will be in the top two so I am going to box him with my best bet, Signoff, and my value bet, Red Cadeaux in an exacta.
Boxed Exacta: Admire Rakti (1), Red Cadeaux (4), Signoff (24)
The Rest of the Card
There are, of course 9 other races on the card for Melbourne Cup day.  As I noted in the preamble I will not be investing too greatly in the day and particularly not in these races.  Nonetheless, here are my tips for the remainder of the day’s racing:
Race 1: No selection
Race 2: Number 6 Dig a Pony
Race 3: Number 5 Grand Marshall
Race 4: Number 5 Spy Decoder
Race 5: Number 1 Law
Race 6: Number 2 Wine Tales
Race 8: Number 9 Pheidon
Race 9: Number 11 Target in Sight
Race 10: No selection
I hope you have a great day on the punt, wherever it is you are punting and enjoy your day!
As always:
  1. Please gamble responsibly.
  2. Whilst all care is taken with these tips no responsibility vests for losses incurred.

Melbourne Cup Day: a must for any bucket list

As the sun sets on yet another Melbourne Cup Day, I have had pause to reflect on yet another losing day on the punt and consider what makes this day of racing so special.  For me it has nothing to do with the racing and frankly, unless you are going to Flemington on the day it not all that special at all rather it is just an excuse for low productivity and skiving off work (unless you are in Victoria and get the public holiday).  What makes “Cup Day” special for me is seeing the race live.

If you have not experienced a Melbourne Cup Day at Flemington you simply must: whether you are a sporting fan or not.  There are few events in my lifetime of attending events both sporting and cultural that match it.  Right from the time you get in public transport to the track to the time you leave, no matter whether you are in a tent or standing with the masses, the day is just shear bedlam as 110,000 people from all walks of life cram themselves into the race track.  It would be fair to say that Melbourne Cup day at Flemington is a microsm of life in Australia with just about every socio-economic and ethnic group represented from those in the most glamorous of marquees through to the staff behind the bar.  

That fact, of itself, makes is day a special one and stands it apart from most other events, in my opinion, in this country.  Simply: anyone can buy a ticket and attend.  If that was all that makes is event one for the bucket list then I am sure people attending would be happy to tick said list.  All of this though forgets the actual race.

I have never heard a crowd hush, as I did the day I attended the Cup, before the start of an event.  110,000 people all of a sudden quietened and listened to the final instructions of the starter to the jockeys before he released them.  And then the roar started and did not end until, in my case, Americian hit the finishing line. It was nothing short of breathtaking and, frankly, Channel 7’s coverage does not do it justice.  I can only remember one other experience like it in a sports ground, the hush and then the roar, and that was at the Gabba before and after the infamous “Harmison ball”.

If you are a fan of sport, indeed if you are Australian, then attending the Melbourne Cup at Flemington is a must for your bucket list.  It is right up there with attending a World Cup final, an Ashes test and a Grand Final of a winter code.  

A word of warning to finish with: if you think the day at the races that is Melbourne Cup Day is as Channel 7 portrays then you are going to be left disappointed.  No one looks as good as they did when they walked into the course at the end of the day, not all of us can afford to be in the Birdcage and there are actually horses that loose.  All of that said: this is a day worth taking a chance on … You will regret it if you do not.

PostScript: My thoughts go out to all of the connections of Verema which was euthanised on the course after suffering an injury in the Cup. 

Shumpty’s Punt: Melbourne Cup 2013

It is time for the race that stops the nation tomorrow. Every year I say to myself that I am not going to bet on the Cup as I have always found tipping in this race akin to throwing a dart at a dart board. This year though I have followed the fortunes of one horse all the way to this race and thus I am confident to tip the horse is as the horse I think will be the winner. I have also come up with a “mega” boxed first four that I am quietly confident in.

Shumpty’s Melbourne Cup Tip: Foreteller (Number 7)

Shumpty’ Melbourne Cup Mega First 4

Dunaden (Number 1)
Sea Moon (Number 4)
Brown Panther (Number 5)
Fiorente (Number 6)
Foreteller (Number 7)
Dandino (Number 8)
Hawkspur (Number 18)
Simenon (Number 19)
Verema (Number 21)

Box them all up and you just might get a good return.

As always: good luck and good punting.

The 1st Tuesday in November: where my money will be

I have read a bit on Twitter this week that “everyone’s an expert this time of year”. I do not profess to be an expert and I have no expectation that anyone will follow my tips for the Melbourne Cup but I thought, in the interests of being able to gloat after the event if my bets come off, I would post my selections for the “race that stops the nation”.

So here is how I will be spending my hard earned cash on the Melbourne Cup:

Best bet: Red Cadeaux ($9 on Sportsbet)

Best roughie: Cavalryman ($31 on Sportsbet having been smashed at its opening price of $51).

Boxed first 4: 1, 2, 4, 7, 8, 10, 15, 17 ($168 will get you 10% of the first 4 dividend).

Good luck and good punting to everyone. Hope you have a great day!