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Good Horses Get Crowds

Champion jockey on the eve of Winx' 21st straight victory bid

Marketing campaigns, alcohol and live bands work to a point. But horses on extended winning streaks have the real ability to grab the public imagination and attract the crowds.

Bush Telegraph, Race horseBush Telegraph – won the July when unbeaten after 8 starts

There is a certain mystical mix of admiration and melodrama associated with sharing in the rollercoaster emotions of the connections, that provides the real-life drama and appeal of watching top horses.

Garth and champion Bush TelegraphGarth and champion Bush Telegraph

That is the view of multiple former champion jockey Garth Puller, who was reflecting in advance of superstar Winx’ bid to make it 21 wins in a row on Saturday. He spoke of his own pressure thirty years ago when a crash diet and a top 3yo gave him the distinction of being aboard the first unbeaten horse to win the Durban July.

“That was the 25th anniversary of the Rothmans sponsorship if I recall. Bush Telegraph had won his first eight starts. The July always enjoys hype – it’s just that kind of race. But there was speculation on every street corner as to whether he was good enough to do it. We had record crowds on course and tote turnovers were at new highs. It was all over the mainstream media. Today with social media, I imagine that the pressure and expectation is quadrupled as legend or champion status is dished out by anybody with Facebook or Twitter access!”

Read more – click on the SP Digest image below

SP Digest 5 Oct 2017


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9 comments on “Good Horses Get Crowds”

  1. Save for horses who will run or have the ability to run in Graded races , your below this grade horse has no chance of having extended wins because of the MR system. The renewed rivalry of Lords and Automation always attracted me to the course as I knew an exciting race was on the cards. There are many other examples of this before the MR system was introduced and has defeated this scenario entirely. Although both of these horses were handicapped in the B and A division neither had seen the wrath of the handicapper prior to reaching these stages. These horses had extended wins in their careers prior to handicapping but I would like to draw a comparison with Justin Snaith’s runner in the 2nd race at Durbanville on Wednesday. She , I believe a 1 time winner had a MR of 68 prior to running 2nd to Northern Ballet in PE , and was raised to 80 in her next race. What are we doing to racing, the horse and her owners???

    1. You have nailed it….The MR kills horses before they have a chance, they are weighted to lose, not be competitive, I thought handicapping was meant to be a positive contribution ( an oxymoron I suppose ) but with the way SA racing is run it feels like only a few control this without oversight. You hear and see trainers all the time complaining of being “done” by the handicapper. I am a partner in a horse who is competitive but every race puts her under sufferance. The handicappers are hurting racing and they will not change as they seem to be untouchable in there decisions and they know it ( not sure why but it sounds very dodgy, there are many of your examples ). My horse is competitive in graded races and the same thing happens there. To do a collateral form comparison with the horses who have run in front of her shows that she will always be weighted to run behind these horses and also allow horses that ran behind her to be more competitive. How does a trainer work around this ? The handicappers are not holistic in their outlook and also a lot of other factors are not taken into consideration ( too much work ? ) this makes the whole handicapping system compromised. Punters want champs ( hero’s ) the handicappers don’t, it is almost an agenda. Also the fact that so many P6 carry over is another nail in the coffin ( hot favs getting roiled or complete outsiders winning, yes I know what you will say but it is ongoing, It is not just me who sees this we are all saying the same thing, its not fun any more ), racing is turning into a lottery and that means no skill, so no point in form. So no point. It is not a perception it is an observation. We want hero’s not zero’s, punters are simply not going back to racing because of the perception ( observed ) and that means no new owners, it all feels contrived. The commentators love a hot pot hero being rolled ??? only in horse racing. Try taking your hero’s out of football or rugby ( or any sport ), no one will watch ( the post mortem on a top team losing is acute, but not a hot fav in racing ? ) I got up at 5 this morning to watch Hamilton race in Japan but if I know they have put a bag of cement in his car then I am not going to watch and if he does lose I want to know what happened and they do that in spades .
      Do they want racing to succeed or is it just a job. Not fun any more…..3.64 winners for the P6 today. Lottery but well done to the winners, clever studying ??!! yeah right. Lottery, no hero’s. I think the trainers do amazing things for their owners but they are hamstrung and have to make decisions that work around handicappers and that means we are at their mercy, thats ugly, defeats the whole object, HERO”S, that all we want…

      1. Very well put Graham. We need more winners and punting should be fun, Enjoying the racing experience will ensure longevity in participation and create a platform where learning(skill) is acquired almost without effort as it comes within a pleasant environment. The answer to success in racing is not too milk a handful of loyal supporters dry but to get affordable and eager involvement from a constantly growing customer base.
        Cannot wait for the day that someone is willing to flip that switch and shock the racing world into action..

      2. Sorry for omitting the punter in my last paragraph Graham , you are so right in that it should be fun to wager on the races and we should promote the R6 punter as much as we can,
        I mentioned horses running in graded races in the opening paragraph as a lot are run on the WFA basis and not on MR. In any event if your horse runs a place in a graded race the stakes earned are more than that earned say in classes 3 ,4 and 5. You just have to pray that the winner had a lower MR than your horse.
        Trainers are struggling to find owners today as a result of the myopic approach taken by the authorities. International sales figures have risen and save for our economics , our sales have sunk to a very low level in the opposite direction.

        1. Yep, you are right with WFA, I suppose it is where the champ should win and to be fair is never far off the mark. Feature racing in SA is great to watch and pretty tough because of the quality of the trainers, breeding, jockey’s etc. I have been a R6 punter at most tracks around the world and we are all the same creature, secretive, intense, nervous, passionate and ultimately satisfied. Just like the one good golf shot you will come back for more, a little smarter, not. We are hardy creatures and can take some serious punishment but the perception has to change. I am not sure of the answers but I have an idea of a world governing body purely dedicated to MR and working in hand with all member authorities to unify the rules and criteria. Maybe a sort of TMO to reassess any grievance under objective viewing or allay any controversy. I just want the air to be clear when it comes to studying form, it is subjective enough. Our horses are world class, Our trainers in SA are great to listen to and although cliche’s are the order of the day, it is always good to hear from the source. Our jockey’s are seriously good at all tracks. The betting is fairly accessible although pretty mundane so what is missing ? Entertainment, inclusion, a sense of ownership, a feeling of fairness ( many many examples ) and a winning chance without guessing although the element of good luck should be on our side not the bad luck ( i.e. tote favs being scratched as the race goes off and the new fav runs second, that is just one…). Dont chase us away because that is how it feels.

          1. Hi Graham , I have noted some of your remedies and comment as follows:
            I agree that entertainment is a key factor but it was pleasing to note that a top singer will be performing after the big race in Sydney tomorrow and not during the race meeting i.e. the after party. I feel very bitter against the MR system as I promoted a young man (my son’s best friend) into horse ownership whereby he purchased shares in two of our fillies and a broodmare , the last of which got a MR of 91 after two wins. He was an ideal owner of the next generation but he has lost a lot of interest due to the odds that are against him in our sport of racing.
            If for some unexplainable reason (why we have to follow international stupidity) we maintain the MR system , I would suggest the following:
            (1) Even if a horse wins early don’t give a MR of 80 (seems to be the average between a low of 60 and a potential high of 100) Kick off with a MR of 70.
            (2) Is handicapping done on paper (by distances between horses) or by expert observance of the manner in which a horse wins a race.
            (3) Penalise a horse in terms of the latter part of (2).
            (4) Having Novice Handicaps is a joke!!
            (5) Have different MR’s for 1000m and 1600m’s and beyond (that really confuses the issue of MR’s)
            (6) What about different surfaces like Poly and the likes.
            (7) What about advantages to horses drawn wide on “around the bend” races.
            The idea of the MR system is to get all participants to finish in a dead heat and that’s why I mention most of those above. Let’s face it , handicapping is not a perfect science and I , personally would hate to have that responsibility but my plea is that we make racing fair to all its followers irrespective of whether you are an owner or a punter.

  2. Nothing succeeds like success. Always considered Garth Puller a sound horseman, quietly influential and when he does speak, you listen. Therefore am over the moon to have him state publicly that people will come to the racecourse to see a winner win once again! That said, has it ever really been different?.
    Ruffian, War Admiral, Sea Biscuit, Secretariat, American Pharoah, and from other
    shores, Zarkarva, Goldikova, Ouija Board, Phar Lap, Sunline, Lonrho, Makybe Diva, Black Caviar, Desert Orchid, Red Rum, Arkle. Every single one of these wonderful horses brought great crowds to the racecourse. The passion that drives the love of the horse and Racing is no small thing and can make a grown man cry in public. Social media can be wonderful tool to promote Champions, you only have to read the comments on the recent Longines World Ratings to fully grasp this! It is a real wish that we can, soon, have a great champion locally to follow passionately and want to be ‘ there ‘ to watch them run and shout them home. Long live Winx !!!

  3. The whole object of handicapping is to give horses opportunities to be competitive and win races. Applied properly MR handicapping does this very well.

    1. Very disappointed at the lack of response from readers regarding the changing of the Cape Sun Met to W.F.A. Lets have more comments from our readers out there.! It’s important for the future of our sport, where are those guys that know? C’mon guys lets have your comments, this is a major step forward in the right direction!
      Yes Ian, I agree on your comment on handicapping but it’s unfair to stop a good horse from winning simply because that horse is running in a handicap! Collateral form is almost non-existent, with todays handicapping system, and the form lines of horses are much more inconsistent than previous!
      Thanks
      Graham Martin

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