Sky Channel presenter Jo McKinnon (pictured) called the filly Saramenha a "star" last Saturday when vision crossed to Rosehill for Race 1. What would possess someone to give the filly that name tag? The filly then never looked likely to win at $1.30 after the smarties had swooped on bookies and backed the "star" from $1.35 into $1.30.
The punters of 2010 and beyond need to be blatantly aware to be very selective who they take any notice of when putting their hard earned on thoroughbreds.
Why is that? Well the industry is full of “urgers” and “experts” - but in reality most are just “urgers”.
“Experts” tend to proudly hold that tag. You’ll hear them introduced on radio or racing television with crap like “time now for form expert Billy Bloggs”. Nothing wrong with that, except if Billy had any testicular development he’d say “hang on Dopey, I’m an expert on nothing, but I’m happy to share my views seeing you asked me”. That would at least get the “expert” tag dropped. However the facts and realities are that in the 40-odd years I’ve followed racing I couldn’t name you one “expert” in the game, as due to the number of variables in racing no “expert” can ever overcome them. I recently heard “expert” form student Dominic Beirne give his thoughts on the Melbourne Cup on RadioTAB and the same person was also advertised as going to appear on Sky Channel as a “form expert” to give his thoughts on the Melbourne Cup. On RadioTAB he gave out seven horses and didn’t pick a placegetter in the Melbourne Cup, so it’s a fact that he’s had a shocker of a year tipping racehorses publicly. He even tipped Queenslander Buffering in the Coolmore when I’d told my clients the horse “needs to be in a paddock not having another race”. Another “expert” on RadioTAB tried to tell listeners the exact order the 24 horses in the Melbourne Cup would finish. The odds to successfully doing that would be about a squillion to one – and that’s if there were half a dozen late scratchings at the barrier. A “squillion to one” is about the same odds as Elvis Presley turning up on your front door step tonight at 8pm and bursting into song with his rendition of Blue Hawaii. Again no problem there provided these “tipsters” don’t wear the tag “expert”, because in reality an “expert” could be reasonably expected to have more idea than the bloke who just started punting last week, or the sheila pulling beers behind the bar at the local, or the forklift driver from Woop Woop. So in summary I have no problem with someone tipping racehorses as I do it myself, provided the media outlets simply stop placing the word “expert” on these people who in reality know no more than you and I.
Punters need to understand what creates all these modern phenomena called “experts” in the first place. To do that one needs to first understand that the ownership of all these media outlets - from racing radio stations, right through to national and international racing television stations like Sky Channel - is in the hands of TAB’s and part of their staff agenda at the place must be to A) “talk as much positive stuff as you can when on air” and B) “try to stimulate TAB turnover as much as possible”.
However I regard the amount of what I’d call “positive rot” that gets spoken on these racing radio stations and television channels is so excessive that it should be reined in forthwith - as it is just absurd. If “they” continue to talk such garbage unabated they should at least have the decency to post subscribers to their services, in the case of television stations, “a chucky bucket” so that we don’t vomit all over the carpet when listening to the “positive rot” that comes out of some of their mouths in pre and post race ramblings. In the case of Sky Channel they should be forced by some broadcasting law to annually send out each subscriber to their three racing channels “one chucky bucket per channel for each of Channel’s 519, 520 and 521”. Unfortunately putting the television on mute when a race is coming on is not really an option, as I don’t know about you - but I can’t memorise 15 sets of colours.
Let me give you an example of what I’m writing about so it’s not ancient history. Last Saturday in the opening race in Sydney we had the appearance of Saramenha, a 2YO filly from the Gerald Ryan stable. Just seven days earlier she’d won by 4.8 lengths at the same track - Rosehill. As alluded to in Tuesday’s Sectional Times story on the website, the filly’s figures were very ordinary to say the least when she won that day (13/11/10) as the $1.24 favourite. Sky Channel cameras crossed to Rosehill for the opening race last Saturday and anchor Jo McKinnon spoke of “the star Saramenha.” What on earth would cause a person who should have some knowledge of racing to call that particular filly a “star”? I mean think about the term “star” racehorse for a moment and pick the odd one out – let’s see Tulloch, Bernborough, Super Impose, Might And Power, Kingston Town and Saramenha. The facts and realities are that Saramenha got lost on debut after missing the kick, then she’d won her only two other starts but on the balance of probability she’d beaten a bunch of slugs on both occasions as she had not run decent overall time in her career to date when she headed off to the barriers last Saturday. However the echoing of McKinnon’s word “star” probably sent some poor hapless punter heading to the nearest TAB terminal to have a bet on this worldbeater as after all he or she would reasonably expect backing the “star” will probably be just money for jam. Sadly that “hapless punter” and his or her family will now be dining at the Salvation Army on Christmas day, on handouts paid for by the Bookmakers Association - who are understandably always flush with funds.
Rosehill Race 2 came on and the whole world wanted to tell you that this 2YO Foxwedge was champion 2YO’s Vain and Luskin Star reincarnated and all rolled into one. The young colt did a few things wrong in the run which can happen with first starter 2YO’s, but eventually scrambled home in pathetic overall time of 1.05.11 - time I could run myself carrying the colt’s mother over my shoulder when running up a reasonably steep 1100-metre hill, like say the Bulli Pass. This time Foxwedge hadn’t even pulled up after crossing the line victorious as the $1.30 favourite before racecaller Mark Shean had exclaimed that the colt had won “living up to the big wraps” whilst also noting “the winner cost over $900,000 and might be worth every cent (of it)” – the latter statement being made rashly before the overall time was advised. So here’s a 2YO that all the barrier trial “experts” fan a bushfire over, so that all the punting suckers come in spinner at ridiculously short odds like a bit of threes or fours on. These barrier trial “experts” obviously have nothing constructive to do in their life as I couldn’t think of anything more boring than sitting there watching racehorses take 52 seconds to run 800 metres on a “good” track - and in fact I suspect these individuals go to the barrier trials to get away from the nagging wife or demanding girlfriend for a while. I suspect they sit there at these barrier trials like excited school boys watching them and compare notes. Well naturally “they” were all highly stimulated when this little gem Foxwedge appeared and basically urged the public that the colt was unbeatable. Sure the horse got the money but the bushfire that these media people AKA “urgers” and “experts” all fan – needs to be tempered down. Now don’t get me wrong here - there is absolutely nothing wrong with the television anchor, or the racecaller, or the barrier trial “expert” having an opinion - but the opinion should be measured and realistic and should include the possibility of one of more of the variables of thoroughbred racing rearing its head in the run with those variables being anything from missing the start, to shin soreness, to breaking a leg, or the jockey falling off and about 638 others I haven’t mentioned.
In summary, highly paid persons who are in reality “TAB employees” shouldn’t consistently talk what I’d call “absolute and utter garbage” by talking up race meetings with crap like “gee it’s a good meeting at Caloundra today” – what a lot of rot, they have one decent meeting a year, their Cup day, so they should say something like “look, this is a crappy meeting, but at least we are racing and for those in our midst who are desperate for a bet I’ll give you a tip”. Then there’s the ones who talk up track ratings with a statements like “we’ve had a lot of rain at Flemington and it’s officially a heavy 10. I know it’s only a 15 degree maximum forecast for today, but if we can get a couple of hours of sunshine with this breeze that’s up currently, I reckon it could get back to a dead 5 by the end of the meeting”. So at the end of the day these “urgers” and “experts” would even talk up the space shuttle Columbia exploding - all in the name of stimulating turnover.
Take it from me that “experts” don’t exist in thoroughbred racing – therefore they should not be addressed as such when they are introduced to their audience.