I don’t get to the races all that much these days because like most serious punters, it’s far easier to bet from home in front of a handful of computer screens with all of the information and applications I need at my fingertips. So it was with a very fresh set of eyes that I headed to Moonee Valley last Friday night to witness Black Caviar romp to her 17th straight win. Here are a few of my thoughts from what was a great experience:

  • Why did the Moonee Valley racing club think they were only going to get around 10,000 people on the night? Melbourne is a sports-mad city, the weather was perfect, school kids were still on holidays and Black Caviar’s return made it bigger than just a sporting event. The club did the right thing in throwing the gates open but by trying to save costs initially they actually made a very expensive mistake considering the admission fees foregone, also catering revenue lost (many food and drink outlets had big queues and then sold out) and the missed opportunity of impressing the very occasional racegoer.
  • Night racing works. This was obviously a special occasion (special enough to warrant free-to-air prime time TV coverage) but it was a great celebratory atmosphere and thankfully very family friendly. We were all there to see a champion at her peak and may not see a better horse in our lifetime.
  • Horses are beautiful creatures. I’m not enough of a wordsmith to draw a mental picture for you, but seeing a finely tuned 500kg equine athlete up close is a thing of beauty.
  • Jockeys are courageous. You have to be to jump up on an animal that is 10 times your weight and race around at 60km per hour with very little to protect your body in the event of a fall.
  • How can Craig Williams only get 3 rides? He’s a great rider in career best form who has been riding winners here, there and everywhere yet there were 5 races where owners and trainers ignored him. Now I understand loyalty has a role to play in racing, but surely you’d want the best hoop available? I don’t mean to disrespect the jockeys who did get rides in those races, but if C Williams isn’t a better rider than Jake Duffy, Peter Mertens, Jarrod Todd, Katelyn Mallyon, James Winks, Lisa Cropp, Christine Puls, Rebecca Williams, Dale Smith, Jamie Mott, Jason Benbow, Talia Rodder, Jake Noonan, Jarrod Fry, Ashley Thompson, John Keating, Jack Hill, Kane Bradley (jockeys in events where Williams didn’t get a ride) I will give the punt away today.
  • Don’t think the official ‘top fluc’ was in fact the best price available in the bookmaker’s ring. Even semi-experienced punters can shop around in the ring and get a turn or two better than the official flucs.
  • What did bookies do before Betfair? Most are so glued to their Betfair screens to see where the market is and get an indication of where it’s going you wonder what they did before the betting exchange got a foothold down under.
  • Some bookies don’t deserve to attract a lot of bets. I appreciate that (much like a punter) risk tolerance will vary from bookie to bookie but some went up late, offered worse prices then the guys either side of them and turned the odds in very quickly on firmers even if they hadn’t layed them. And then wondered why they were getting small books for each race.
  • Mug punters bet too much. Too much of their bank per bet and too many bets per meeting.

If you’re a stay-at-home racing fan I urge you to get to the track once in a while. It’s a great experience and one that gives you a fresh perspective on the racing game.