Yesterday at almost the same time two men who had done a bad thing, one very much worse than the other, used almost identical excuses.
In Sydney Paul Douglas Peters, the so-called “Collar bomb hoaxer” was sentenced to 13 years in jail for the 10 hours of sheer terror and year of tough recovery he unleashed on 18-year-old schoolgirl Madeleine Pulver in her family home last year.
In Melbourne champion jokey Damien Oliver copped an 8-month ban from racing after he admitted betting $10,000 against his own ride - a cardinal sin of the track.
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Eight months. That’s jockey Damien Oliver’s laughably soft penalty for bringing an entire sport into disrepute. He won’t even miss a Spring Carnival. That’s like suspending a football player for the off-season. What a joke.
In 2010, the AFL suspended a lowly interchange steward for a whole year after he placed a whopping total of $9 in bets. It was heavy-handed, but it sent the clear message that anyone employed by the AFL, no matter how tangentially, must not bet on it.
Racing had the chance to send an even stronger message today. When one of the most famous names in your sport bets the equivalent of an overseas trip on a rival horse, it’s a rare opportunity to go medieval.
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Flemington’s impending celebration might stop a nation, but it also gets certain sectors moving. As trainers and thoroughbreds all over town intensify their pre-race fitness campaigns, it seemed only appropriate that this punter hit the track too.
Accordingly, the weekend saw me set off on 3 km of what looked like jogging, only slower. As I turned for home, I was really digging deep, deep into that space where a person’s mathematical ability is supposed to be. Taking into account the time and distance, would I have burned off 5 barbecue shapes or pushed it out to 6?
Distracted by these calculations, I inhaled a little seasonal joy, in the form of some kind of airborne plant matter. This particular piece of plant matter was actually big enough for a person to duck, but unfortunately it went straight in, resulting in a full-blown, public gagging episode.
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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.
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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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“Barbaric”, “cruel” and “blood sport”. Three of the typically sensationalist slogans that anti-jumps racing protest groups are likely to bandy about over the next few days of Warrnambool’s May Racing Carnival.
Why? Because Warrnambool’s famous annual event features jumps racing.
Jumps racing’s reputation has taken a pounding in recent years. Every incident represents an easy target for protest groups and a similarly easy headline for the mainstream media.
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Ray Silburn’s fall didn’t look good, and it wasn’t. Dislodged from his mount at a small-time meeting at Canberra’s unimaginatively named “Thoroughbred Park” racecourse in February, 2005, the champion local jockey was left a quadriplegic after being crushed by the weight of his 500 kilo quadruped.
“One minute I was in a race, the next I was looking up at a ceiling,” the jockey said at the annual National Jockeys Trust Lunch on Thursday, which The Punch attended. “I just wanted to move my arms so I could hug my two kids.”
Silburn’s wife left him shortly after the fall. “I experienced deep loneliness. It was very hard. I put on a brave face but deep down I was in a lot of pain and hurt. There are things you just don’t understand with the way your life has turned out and how some people treat you.”
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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.
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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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Hundreds of thousands of fans and millions of dollars worth of sponsorship and merchandise sales can’t be wrong, but for a small clique of passionate motorsport fans born in the 50s and 60s, the annual Bathurst event is struggling to arouse our passion.
Bathurst is wedged in that twilight zone between the end of the footy season and the start of cricket, when a young man’s fancy turns to things racing on four wheels and four legs. Bathurst Sunday was once a holy day of obligation.
You locked the doors and drew the curtains and sat for 8 hours oblivious to the wife’s hurrumphs and the kid’s pleading eyes. I even timed a certain, erm, conception-negating operation for the Saturday so I had an excuse to sit around all Sunday.
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