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Sunday, March 23, 2014

News and Observations from Down Under

Chantal Sutherland Loses - Is probably the appropriate headline in North America for the Probuild Invitation Riders Monte contested yesterday at Tabcorp Park Melton.  The fact she didn't win the race really isn't surprising being she went againt 1.95-1 favorite Motu Young Jacob NZ (mile rate 2:02.5 over the good track for the 1720 meter race) who went an easy wire-to-wire victory, defeating Kyvalley Wrap (2nd) and Lysenko NZ (3rd, Sutherland) by 9.7 meters.  Sutherland was well respected in the mutuels, going of as second choice at $3.70-1.  It is interesting to note that Sutherland was given a warning for racing out of position at the start.  If you want to see the race, you can catch it here by clicking on this for Windows Media Player or here for QuickTime.

In the feature race at Melton, Keystone Del NZ  won the final of the $300,000 Great Southern Star Final in a mile rate of 1:56.5, defeating Stent NZ by half a neck at the wire.  Keystone Del NZ also won his eliminaiton earlier in the evening (1:56.6 mile rate).  The final may be seen here.

No doubt about it, program pages in North America are superior to what you get Down Under (of course, it may be a question of what you are used to) but there are two features they have in Australia that I do like.  One, is the in the results chart of each race (chart is actually a misnomer).  They have a column called Stewards' Comments which contain important information on each horse.  For example in the 1st race at Melton on Saturday, you see comments like these for horses in the race.  For the race winner, Mister Gunson, you see the following listed (abbreviations actually): "Fractious in score up, last chance in draw, gate speed, led, leader at bell, swabbed".  For The Bohemian NZ, it is noted: "1 out back 4 at bell, 3 wide late with trail".  Some track in North America have comments from the race charter, but they certainly don't go into such detail.

The other thing I like is the fact they publish the Stewards' Report for each race day in Australia.  It may take a day or two for the report to be available but the information listed may be helpful when handicapping future races.  For example, where are you going to see comments from anyone like this, "Rounding the home turn on the final occasion Wheres Bub shifted ground inwards and momentarily tightened the ground of Lohi Liz resulting in Lohi Liz contacting the red marker peg"?  How about this comment, "Cory Bell (It Is Ike) was questioned regarding his tactics in this event and in particular the reasons why he restrained from the start when the horse had gone forward from barrier 4 at its most previous start at Maryborough. Driver Bell reported that it was his intention to go forward from the barrier but as the start was affected horses to his inside began too well and he elected then to restrain in an attempt to take a position in the back straight. He was further questioned as to the reasons why he failed to move from the pegs in the back straight on the final occasion. Driver Bell reported that the horse was hanging out and when racing wider has a tendency to hit its knees. He felt had he have moved wider on the track approaching the 500m mark Lucindas Fella, racing to his outside, was tiring and he would have been forced to move to a three wide position and disadvantage his horse. He remained on the pegs before attempting to take a run in the home straight but again It Is Ike hung out against his efforts and proved difficult to drive. A warning was placed on the performance of It Is Ike and driver Cory Bell’s explanations were noted"?  The Stewards' Reports also include the issuing of fines and the results of hearings (justice is quick Down Under).  If you are trying to give horseplayers all the information possible, reports like this can be indispensable.

What were they thinking?  As in the United States, gamblers are concerned about the medication of race horses.  Therefore, imaging my surprise to see one of the big advertising billboards around the track at Tabcorp Park Melton was for a company Carbine Chemicals.  Really?  Further research shows that Carbine Chemicals produces horse supplements; innocent enough, but by advertising a 'chemical' company on your track certainly gives spectators reason to pause.

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