Do you remember where you were when Damien Oliver won the Cup on Media Puzzle? I was at a particularly pissy lunch in Canberra and the room choked up as, struggling to keep it together, Oliver dedicated the win to his brother Jason, who had died a week before in a barrier trial.
Today, Oliver lines up on the equal favourite Americain. He stands accused of possibly the worst crime a jockey can commit – outlaying a $10,000 bet on a rival horse in a race at Moonee Valley in 2010. Let’s be clear on this: Oliver was on the second favourite, Europa Point, paying $3.80. He bet on Miss Octopussy ($2.30), the favourite and eventual winner, earning him $23,000. Oliver’s horse finished sixth.
Europa Point’s connections will rightly want to know if one of the country’s champion jockeys ran dead on their horse. There’s no proof yet to suggest he did – but they have a right to know if this was the case.
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Are you the sort of person who finds form guides too full of bewildering racing jargon? Do you not really care about the Melbourne Cup? Then this form guide is for you!
Trainer: Mikel Delzangles. Barrier: 16.
Odds: $7. Jockey: Craig Williams
This hideously ugly Gallic beast won last year’s Melbourne Cup by a tiny hair protruding from its enormous Gallic nostril. On its return to Australia this year, it then arrogantly won the Caulfield Cup. Dunaden subsists entirely on oat croissants cooked by Gabriel Gaté, a leaden diet which has helped him prepare for the massive task of trying to win this year’s Melbourne Cup carrying 59kg.
Trainer: Alain de Royer-Dupre. Barrier: 12.
Odds: $5. Jockey: Damien Oliver
Ah Americain, you’ve done it again! Well, that’s what punters hope. The 2010 winner ran an unlucky fourth in 2011 and is a clear favourite to win in 2012. His main problem, like his French comptariot Dunaden, is weight. Rounding the home turn, American is going to feel more bogged-down than the pizza guy delivering to the Rinehart mansion.
By the end of today Australians will have spent just under $800 million on an event which lasts for just over three minutes.
According to research by the financial modelling firm IBISWorld, $377.7 million will be spent on fashion and fascinators, booze and canapés, as well as travel and accommodation for those making it to down to Melbourne. Another $404 million will be spent directly on gambling, be it a couple of bucks in the office sweep or the big end of town plunging tens of thousands on their favourite nag.
The total amount: $781.7 million. An extraordinary amount of money by any measure.
When you think of a problem gambler, chances are you think of someone in a dank, windowless pub section, engrossed by flashing lights and sinisterly cheerful music.
Someone who goes for the free International Roast and stays for the occasional plink of coins won. Someone a bit pathetic.
Not someone in a fascinating mini-headpiece or a nice suit, right? Somehow the glamour of punting on horses hides the fact that that it, too, fuels problem gambling.
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On my access visits to my Dad in Adelaide, he’d make me his honorary Bookie’s hand at the Morphettville race track. The ladies would don their Harris Scarfe hats, the blokes resplendent in T-shirts, Stubbies and thongs to have a flutter on fine fillies with names like “Dagger Bow”, “Dad’s Army”, or “Howyagaarn”.
They’d rip crisp twenties from newly opened pay packets, kiss them passionately goodbye, before staggering to the bar for another West End draught. Pickaxe size, luv. No breathos back then, matey!
Mum and Dad both ran TABs too. As a teenager, my job was to sweep the ciggy butts and tickets off the floor. Oh the tickets. Thousands of the big beige things. Every single one hurled to the floor in disgust, insousiance, regret. I witnessed people throw thousands of dollars over the counter, thousands they could not afford. This was the ‘60s. Even then, the money generally flowed in one direction.
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IT’S time for the Reserve Bank to stump up on Tuesday with an interest rate cut to kick-start the nation.
The Australian economy has been a one trick pony for much of the past decade, but our prized runner - the mining industry - just turned lame. It is time for the Reserve Bank to give the other parts of the economy retail, manufacturing, services and construction a giddy up this Tuesday.
It’s a close call - given the Reserve Bank has already cut interest rates 1.5 percentage points over the past year - but another rate cut at 2.30pm looks like the favourite.
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Thank god for the international horses. Some say they’ve ruined a great Australian institution. Fact is, they’ve saved it.
Last year, just one Australian horse finished in the top 10 in the Melbourne Cup. Its name was Niwot and it came eighth. The next Australian horse was Precedence in 11th spot, then The Verminator, in 13th. Between them, those three horses have since won just two of their 30 starts.
Clearly, our best local stayers are not world-beaters. They’re barely swift enough to be egg-beaters. This year’s local crop looks even weaker. Without the internationals, the 2012 Melbourne Cup would resemble a staying race at the bush picnic races.
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By now, you’re sick of the Cup, we’re sick of the Cup. But here’s a doozy of a dilemma regarding the luckiest and most ungrateful punter in Australia.
On Tuesday, a friend of The Punch’s went to the TAB to put on his bets. Before leaving, he asked his workmates if he could put any bets on for them.
One guy in his 60s gave our friend $6 for a “mystery box trifecta”. That’s when the TAB computer randomly selects three horses and if they run the placings any which way, the bet wins.
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Well damn. At First Sight didn’t win. Neither did Americain.
However, we can all be winners if you share with us some of your wit and pith in our Wednesday caption competition. This week featuring the photo finish of photo finishes. Winners will be displayed and showered with accolades in tomorrow’s Open Thread.
It’s Hump Day, folks. What’s on your mind?
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Once upon a time, it would have been a huge story for the Melbourne Cup to go to an overseas trainer. Today, after French horse Dunaden nosed out English horse Red Cadeaux in a thrilling finish, exactly the opposite is true.
How ironic - in a week when an Australian icon in Qantas has bulldozed a path towards an ostensibly less Australian future - that another Australia icon, the Melbourne Cup, is now as distant from its origins as Qantas is from a dinky-di outback air service.
Dunaden prevailed in the narrowest of narrow finishes and as ever, provided a great story. The horse’s jockey, Christophe Lemaire, flew out just yesterday after local jock Craig Williams had an appeal against a suspension dismissed. In a further irony, his arrival was delayed by the Qantas shutdown.
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It’s on again. The Melbourne Cup. The race that stops the nation. Or at least, the race that stops the nation working.
This year’s Cup is like no other. Well might we say “stop the boats” as refugees seek asylum on our shores, but maybe we’d do better to stop the planes. This year, more foreign raiders than ever before are trying to steal our riches and destroy our way of life. It’s just not horse racing.
So who’s going to win? The Punch proudly presents Australia’s most devastatingly honest and accurate form guide to help you decide for yourself.
On the first Tuesday of November, around three-ish, every fair-dinkum Australian gathers round for “The Race That Stops the Nation”. They show it in pubs, clubs, old-folks homes and school class-rooms. TABs fill up with people who couldn’t tell you the difference between a trifecta and a trilby, having their one bet for the year.
Suddenly you find yourself surrounded by racing experts who know all about form, breeding, lead-ups and how the raiders can’t handle the hard Aussie tracks.
In workplaces right around the country, people chuck in for $2 sweeps and agonise about drawing the 200-1 outsider with a name they can’t pronounce. And right around the country, in every state bar Victoria, work shuts down at 12.
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Tom Waterhouse has driven me to this.
The scion of the Waterhouse racing family appearing far too often on my television to declare that while he possessed no actual talent he would happily part me with my money was – as they say – the last straw.
Watching the Wallabies get smashed by the Kiwis in the World Cup was hard enough without watching Waterhouse continually pop up on my screen asking for cash like some transient beggar.
Here we go again – time to dig out the fascinator, grab a six-pack of Bacardi Breezers and wobble off on impractically high heels to Melbourne’s Spring Racing Carnival.
At any other time of the year, the races are likely to be associated with dodgy bookies, the barbarism of jumps racing and problem gambling. Around this time, however, we start referring to it as the “sport of kings”, an elite, glamorous cultural event.
But how glamorous is it really when, for every one expensively-preened Fashions on the Field entrant, there are five young men wearing that consistently hilarious combination of tux and Aussie flag boxers? You can bet that while Lillian Frank or Peter Jago praise the young ladies present for returning to the modest and elegant trends of the 1920s, most people won’t go home without seeing at least a dozen women clutching a pair of vomit-speckled stilettos.
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Something’s in the air and it’s not just a truckload of pollen. National stockpiles of Zyrtec, Tuscan Tan and ostrich feathers are all being hammered relentlessly.
The Spring Racing Carnival is upon us. Originally a celebration of the finest in equine flesh, the event has diversified into an exposition of both equine and female flesh.
Like musk sticks or anchovies, etymology either does it for you or it doesn’t. I would be happy to see the recipe for musk sticks go up in flames, but I do dig a bit of etymology.
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As you check the form for today’s Melbourne Cup, spare a thought for some of the jockeys who won’t be taking their place in the field.
They all have great experience, have shown extreme courage under pressure and a determination to succeed that does their profession proud.
Sadly they are also among the scores jockeys who suffer career-ending injuries every year.
A great editor once told me to “back the story” when punting on the Melbourne Cup. Wishful thinking, no doubt, but he honestly believed that the horse with the best story often won.
Of course, like all punting theories, this one is complete rubbish. If my mate the editor was right, topical tip Alcopop would have won in a canter last year, what with Kevin Rudd’s obsession with taxing said bevvies.
Thong Classic (13th in 2002) and Maythehorsebewithu (5th in 2001) would also both have won, creating heaven for headline-writers.
The Spring Racing Carnival is well under way and the racing industry is doing its best to put on a brave face and pretend all is chipper.
But deep down in the racing industry, hidden behind the glamorous façade filled with celebrities, celebrations, fashion and booze, there looms a very dark secret that the industry is working hard to quell.
Racing lost its first line of defence when it negligently allowed jumps racing to continue in 2008 despite opposition dating back more than twenty years.
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It’s that time of the year again..Spring Racing, a time when any retailer can bump up their collections by 30% and still see them walk out the door, a time when putting multi coloured feathers and novelty oversized hats on suddenly becomes acceptable and a spray tan fog mist fills the air.
The Spring Racing carnival gives us females the opportunity to stand around in 14 inch heels from dusk to dawn..providing that is that one is included in some form of ‘pre- races champagne breakfast’, which although may seem like a brilliant idea in the morning, may not work to your benefit by 3pm.
A day at the track can be enjoyable, however, it can also be an horrific ordeal ending in blisters, smudged mascara and crusts of what was your lunch smeared on your cheek.
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Well another day and yet another useless decision on alcohol.
Victoria Police will today continue their blitz on drunks at races with the running of the Oaks at Flemington.
Now it’s great that police are targeting these people to stop alcohol fuelled violence, but I personally don’t believe it’s the right course of action.
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The Ruddster had a win - and he’s going off. Watch it here.
Now that the Cup’s behind us and Shocking has won it, let’s get serious about addressing the massive gap in our national dialogue on gambling. It’s that gap that’s referred to in the title of this piece.
Punch deputy editor Tory Maguire wrote a great piece recently on the scourge of the pokies. In it, she summarised some of the measures proposed to combat that electronic plague. But where is the same debate about racing?
The Melbourne Cup is a great national event. I’ve written about it in glowing, enthusiastic terms twice on this website this week, and countless times elsewhere. I once even argued that Cup Day should be our National Day. Everybody, sing with me: Horse Trainers all let us rejoice…
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At the risk of being kicked out of the country I am going to ask whose kids had a little flutter on the Melbourne Cup today?
I heard a radio announcer talking about her spend for the day - which was just fine - until she tacked on at the end, “and the kids have a little $10 bet each.”
Okay – let’s forget for a minute that it is illegal for persons under 18 to gamble and think just a bit about the oft documented impact of problem gambling on Australian society. $18 billion a year in losses and seven people affected by each person with a gambling problem.
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Barrier: 9. Jockey: Brad Rawiller. Trainer: Bart Cummings. Odds: $5
Last year, he was an anonymous 40-1 shot. This year, the ’08 winner is a raging hot favourite who’s added the ’09 Caulfield Cup to his rapidly bulging CV. If he wins, Bart Cummings will be made president of the new Australian republic, alive or dead.
2. C’EST LA GUERRE
Barrier: 7. Jockey: Nicholas Hall. Trainer: John Sadler. Odds: $25
His name means “it’s war”, but last year’s third placegetter won’t fire a shot this year. The jockey’s Dad, Greg Hall, famously waved his whip in triumph in ’97, only to lose in a photo. Young Nick won’t get the chance to make the same mistake this year.
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So - members of the sporting community think its sacrilege for women to swan about in fashionable attire as horses race in the background (for in the background they most definitely are), do they? Well, I for one, think it’s cool.
Australia is a sporting nation but with almost every other sport, women get cast aside - shunted to a cheerleader’s outfit or a cold seat on the sidelines. But with the races, we practically have complete run of the place.
Spring Carnival! Fashions on the Field! Lawn parties! Make-up tents! Champagne! Vegetarian pies! Could it be any more female oriented?
The spring racing carnival has been hijacked by fashonistas. And a motley assortment of B-listers, C-listers, gibberers, attention-seekers, hangers-on, creeps, drunks, wankers and wannabes.
I’ve never seen the fawning fashion media interrupt a Collete Dinnigan catwalk show to report the result of the fifth from Flemington. Why, then, should a racing carnival as short as an English summer share airtime with the frou-frou set?
When Jean Shrimpton shocked conservative Melbourne with her mini skirt in 1965 (the year Bart Cummings won his first Cup), fair enough. That, at least, was something approaching a real story.
Tomorrow, on the first Tuesday in November, millions of Australians will stop whatever they are doing for a few minutes to listen to or watch the Melbourne Cup. All over the country, people will tune into their radio or television for the race which stops a nation.
Much of the excitement of the event will be brought to them by a few race-callers, whose accuracy and colour will live on in their memories of the 2009 cup.
Racing without the callers would be dull. Yet for the first 64 years, there was no radio commentary of the race.
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