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Horse Racing

Australian Thoroughbred Horse Racing is booming! Modern technology and social change have altered the face of racing forever. Surprisingly, some of these changes have worked in favour of the punter and now horse racing offers opportunities never dreamt of in the past. And these opportunities are everywhere, staring you in the face!

Opportunities that can be exploited by any shrewd punter who knows what to look for and once identified, these opportunities can be developed into ways to win.

This page is where you will find heaps of information about Australian Horse Racing.

Racing in Oz

Horse Racing in Australia is a $13.5 billion industry and has a significant impact on our economy. It makes up about one per cent of our Gross Domestic Product and provides employment for 240,000 people. That’s about one in every 73 Australians.

Australia has a huge betting turnover of $14.6 billion on horse racing. This includes On- and Off-Course for all Pari-Mutuel and Bookmakers. Some of this money goes back into the horse racing industry or becomes government revenue but about 83% is returned to punters as winnings. This is a huge return and proves beyond a doubt that people do win at horse racing.

There seems no end to the amenities and facilities being introduced by the race clubs for horse racing fans. Innovative changes and clever use of emerging technology has allowed instant access to information and betting trends. These changes have altered horse racing forever! And for the better. Surprisingly, they have worked in favour of the punter and for many horse racing is now successful, profitable and enjoyable. Upgrades to races tracks, changes to the class structure, new race conditions, smaller fields and more stringent regulations have resulted in more truly run races.

This makes the punter’s job a lot easier in actual practice. But with horse racing leaping into the 21st Century it is quite a challenge for punters to keep informed about the latest trends. Most punters are blissfully unaware of the effect of these changes on their betting and are simply unable to take advantage of state of things.

Statistics tell us less than 3% of punters win consistently. With all this mind boggling technology and a huge variety of betting options available, how does the average punter develop the skills to join that elite 3% who win at horse racing? The answer lies in information and being better informed. Informed to the extent where he can make his own selections. Free of tipsters, rating services and any outside influence. Completely independent!

Completely independent!

Recent Innovations

So let’s have a closer look as some recent innovations in horse racing and how they benefit us as punters. Let’s take New South Wales as an example.

A few years ago no serious punter would consider having a bet during the week. Saturday afternoon racing was at its best. The best races were held at Saturday meetings on the metropolitan racecourses and this attracted the best horses. Therefore, traditionally, it was thought that this was where you found the best bets.

Then came Sunday racing, forced on the race clubs by the State government in an attempt to gain more revenue and prop up the ailing horse racing industry. Sunday racing slowly took hold and is now popular with punters and race clubs alike.

Night racing soon followed and this his proved to be a social spectacle second to none. The night racing meetings are attracting new kinds of racegoers in droves. Horse racing was attracting new fans.

And the benefits for punters are many. These moves have actually strengthened horse racing, providing much stronger fields and greater prize money. These meetings have adopted the style of holiday meetings and lifted the calibre of mid week meetings into the bargain.

Punters now have a choice of strong racing spread out over several meetings throughout the week. No longer do they need to restrict their betting activities to the traditional Saturday afternoon meeting. And there’s more. Punters can now bet on country races and New Zealand horse racing on Saturday mornings. The establishment of the Thoroughbred Racing Board brought new voice to the industry and the calibre of the supervision and regulation of horse racing.

This organisation assumed many of the administrative activities of the Australian Jockey Club and has provided independent leadership in the development and enhancement of horse racing in New South Wales. The result was a strong vote of confidence in the integrity of the industry. Punters now bet with confidence knowing that wrongdoers will be found out and dealt with by the authorities.

Open up any form guide and you will find a myriad of advertisements on horse racing. Information services of various kinds, Trifecta ratings, tipping services, betting software and on-line services. The options are there to suit any type of punter and most are just a phone call away. There’s no work to do for busy punters. For a subscription or a one off fee you’ll get advice and recommendations for the best bets on any given day, on any given race for any race meeting. Some services will even tell you how much to bet according to their pre-determined betting system.

For the more discerning punter, the punter who gets satisfaction from working things out for himself, things have also taken a turn for the better. The information provided by the traditional from guides has improved immensely. For example, Australia’s most comprehensive form guide, The Sportsman, has now includes information on barrier trials, jockeys and trainers standings for each course, change of trainer, relative class movements, sectional times and several new and useful features to the Chartform liftout section. And full form is now available on-line. For a small charge any form analyst can access full form details from several sources. Some of the major providers are AAP, Cyberhorse and Sportsman.

For the system buffs, form archives are also accessible on-line. This is a very useful service for checking past results and historical information when devising a new system or approach. Modern techniques in training and technological advances are bound to have some affect on horse racing generally but it is in the area of administration and control where these changes are most marked. Computerisation has altered the pattern of horse racing and the way that all concerned with the industry, including punters, must think it and their relationship within it.

Changes for the Better

For the punter things have changed for the better. Computerisation has improved the standard of form guides and the accuracy of information contained in them. It has made instant access and updating of form widely available to all racegoers.

Information and rating services are now widely available for a reasonable fee and release the punter from many hours of drudgery compiling records and going through the form analysis process.

One of the most important improvements in horse racing in recent times from the punter’s point of view is the arrival of videotape and the VCR. Although now rendered almost obsolete as technology advances races can now be replayed on the Internet.

The last two decades of the twentieth century brought enormous social and technological change in our society. We are living in the technological era with the evolution of the personal computer leading the charge.

The personal computer has changed our lives forever and has been a decisive factor that has worked in favour of the punter.

Activities and functions that previously needed lengthy calculations and extensive labour intensive record keeping can now be performed more quickly, accurately and efficiently.

Computer technology has revolutionised many industries but the changes it has brought to the horse racing industry has been most noticeable and a godsend to the punter.

Satellite communication has added to this technological phenomenon. It has reformed the way we work, do business and use our leisure time. TAB Corp’s mainframe configuration monitors the activities of thousands of terminals and workstations.

It is one of the biggest communications networks in the Southern Hemisphere. Its infrastructure extends locally, nationally and internationally and is linked to race clubs, totalizator companies and agencies, television stations, and major telecommunication service providers. Information is disseminated to outlets via PubTAB, BETLINK, PhoneTAB, DIAL-IT TAB and many others.

The information provided on racedays includes meeting coverage, race fields, results, dividends, scratchings, track conditions, betting fluctuations and betting pool trends. Messages and data are computer generated immediately the information is confirmed.

And this service is used Australia wide by race clubs, TAB agencies and the media. The sheer size and efficiency of such an organisation is miraculous and a fine example of the scope and importance computer technology now plays in our everyday lives. That’s modern horse racing!

Computers are used by many other organisations in the racing industry. Race clubs, trainers, breeders, newspapers and other forms of the media are now entrenched in computer applications for such things as registration records, renewal fees, licensing, breeding records, number crunching statistics, production and maintenance of form guides and numerous administrative functions.

And the personal computer has allowed the ordinary punter to get in on the act. What a boon for system punters. The professional or any serious punter can keep race records in many forms and manipulate the data to their hearts content.

Punters can research statistics such as jockey ratings, barrier position penalty tables, wet track performance, or calculate trifecta chances, all with a click or two of a mouse.

They can research, devise and test systems in a fraction of the time it would take to do the job manually, if indeed, it could be done manually at all.

They can program handicapping systems and betting methods using any number of criteria and betting angles and applied in a variety of ways.

Other innovations include direct telephone access to on-course bookmakers, credit betting and a television channel dedicated to horse racing.

More recently, TAB Corp has upgraded their telephone betting service and now allow their horse racing customers to place their bets automatically using touch dial phones. This service now includes a voice recognition facility with the capacity to place bets right up to race time free of any line congestion or delays.

Internet betting for horse racing is available via the TAB’s website and future enhancements include the provision of form services for some 14,600 Internet customers.

For professional horse racing punters, “value” is a significant factor and is often the difference between a healthy bank balance and being in the red. A professional must secure the best price available for his selections.

Until now, this meant going to the racetrack and doing battle with the bookies. In days before the TAB the SP Bookies were the only alternative. Off-course punters had no chance to grab the cream of the odds and had to be satisfied with the starting price. After several decades the TAB is entrenched and SP bookies a thing of the past. But this has been at the expense of the on-course bookmakers and the value offered to punters.

But it’s not all bad news for punters.

The TAB dividends often come up ahead of prices available on-course. This is particularly noticeable with some long priced starters and TAB dividends often well exceed the best prices on offer trackside.

And the interstate horse racing dividends can sometimes be more attractive than the home State.

Some exciting developments have occurred for those who favour the exotic style of betting.

Not only have trifecta dividends reached new heights but Superfectas are producing lotto-like wins for those who can afford to indulge.

A more recent addition to the exotic range is “First 4″ betting. Although these later arrivals are still only available on selected races, trifecta betting is now available on every race covered by the TAB infrastructure.

“Flexi Betting” is a new and revolutionary way of betting from TAB Corp. Flexi Betting allows the punter to take a trifecta, First 4 or Superfecta with multi combinations that were previous beyond the pocket of the average punter. Punters can now have as many combinations as they want at an outlay to suit their own pocket.

For trifecta bettors this is an exciting innovation and punters can now take big combinations or box combinations and bet just a small nominated percentage of the dollar unit cost.

TAB Corp has greatly improved its TABTEXT service. A vital factor for any serious punter is the “price” or odds available. TABTEXT provides the approximate dividends right up to race time which help punters to decide what to bet on, what type of bet to have and most importantly, how much to bet.

And on the subject of getting the right price, TAB “Fixed Odds Betting” is an exciting development for the serious straight out betting punter wanting to get the best price.

At last punters can get true value on their selections. TAB Fixed Odds is available on major races during the year and is strongly gaining in popularity. It seems only a matter of time and punters will be able to get the price they want on each bet.

Unfortunately, it is this innovation alone that may well sound the death knell for on-course bookmakers.

Australians Like to Gamble

Australians like to gamble and horse racing is perhaps the most exciting of all forms of gambling. But there are times when things get out of hand and some people bet more than they can afford.

When this happens gambling becomes a problem which affects us all.

The horse racing industry recognises this problem and is fully committed to the New South Wales Government’s gambling harm minimisation policies.

The industry has established links with local and State organisations that can provide counselling and support services for problem gamblers.

Smaller race fields and more stringent regulation has meant stricter control measures in force. This means there are now more truly run races and punters can now rest reasonable easy knowing that the game is well regulated and wrongdoers easier to detect.

Changes to the classes of certain races are considered a mixed bag by many. But the introduction of events for three year olds and upwards is a bonus for the form analyst and handicappers.

It is rare that these age groups compete well against older horses. And in races with already reduced field, it means these younger horses can be safely eliminated increasing the chances of winning for the remainder.

Virtually, many races consist of just three or four real chances. No longer can punters use the excuse of not betting because of poor fields or lower class races as these races are now where the value bets are to be found.

The elimination of some lower class races from country horse racing programs make for an easier and more consistent interpretation of class ability by race club officials and handicappers and provides many betting opportunities.

On closer examination many races present a field of mixed class starters which, when analysed by the handicapper, actually presents a reduced number of chances.

So where does all this leave the average punter?

Well, these changes aren’t implemented simply for the benefit of the ordinary punter but they can be of advantage to the ordinary punter.

Knowledge and an awareness of the direction the horse racing industry is heading can present many opportunities for enjoyment and winning.

So from now on pick up that newspaper or form guide and read more about horse racing in general and what’s happening in the world of thoroughbred horse racing.

We’re certain it will pay off for you …

The Melbourne Cup

The Melbourne Cup is the fourth richest horse race in the world after the Dubai World Cup, the Japan Cup and the Breeders Cup Classic in the USA.

Held at Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne on the first Tuesday in November each year since 1861, the Melbourne Cup is known as “the race that stops a nation”.

At around 3pm on that November day normal activity comes to a halt throughout the country in favour of horse racing and if you are not one of the hundred thousand or so at the track you are watching the horse racing live on TV.

With prize money of $5.1 million on offer the competition is fierce and trainers mounting campaigns to take the Cup years in advance.

This year in 2005 the Melbourne Cup carnival will be held on the first of November and will be the 145th running of the Cup.

Over 100,000 people are expected to attend trackside and the day is the most important one on the social calendar with the fashion stakes attracting as much attention as the races.

This race is so important on the Australian Racing Calendar that we have dedicated a separate page where you will find more information and statistics on the cup. Click here for more information.

Our Jockeys

There were 1,324 jockeys riding in Australia in 2003/04.

The champion Group 1 jockey of 2003/04 was Glen Boss and Glen was the leading Jockey by Group race wins (10) ahead of Darren Beadman and Corey Brown both with 7 wins each. Glen earned stakes of over $8 million. The leading jockeys by the number of wins was Greg Ryan with 168 wins from 903 rides.

In Australia horse racing is becoming more competitive and sophisticated and the level of competition between jockeys is increasing correspondingly.But the basic reason for the superiority of one jockey over another is their level of horsemanship. A good jockey needs confidence and courage in abundance.

Horse racing is a dangerous business and the determination needed to force your way through a field of runners is not possessed by everybody. The decisions that can make the difference between winning and losing must be made in split seconds.

To give you an idea of the courage and judgement required by a jockey we can turn to the words of A.B.Paterson who, when writing about jockeys said:

“A racehorse, it should be said, is not a thing that can be whirled round like a top. A horse at full stretch covers some eighteen feet of ground: he weighs three-quarters of a ton and his velocity is fifty-three feet per second. The rider has not only to make up his mind in the eight part of an instant but he has to try to convert the horse to the same way of thinking. Imagine, then, a big field, say twenty horses, in a short distance race, each horse requiring eighteen feet of ground to act in and each frantically determined to get to the front. They cannot all get off well even if the start is perfect, as some jump into their stride quicker than others. Imagine, then, what are the calls on a jockey’s judgement when he finds himself wedged in among this flying mass of horseflesh, horses all around him, hoofs thundering, leather steaming, the white rails flying past. Crouched on his horse’s neck, he sees nothing but the waving mane of his own mount and the heels and tails of the horses just in front of him. Some animal in front drops back a little, leaving a slight opening, and the rider has to decide in the twinkling of an eye whether he will go for the opening. He must not pull his horse out of his stride, just the lightest touch on the rein and the least possible change of direction is all he can allow himself. If he misses the chance, something else will be into the gap. If he goes for it and gets blocked, he may be worse off than ever.”

Makes you think about what is really involved in horse racing, doesn’t it? You will never quite take jockeys for granted again and perhaps think twice before offering any criticism at an apparent failure of a jockey to ride to your expectations.

If you think jockeys have an exciting, glamorous life, then perhaps you should think again. Horse racing is a rigorous and dangerous profession and can keep ajockey very busy. To the racing public it seems that all a jockey has to do is to turn up at the racetrack for the afternoon, mount up and have a few rides. Horse racing is easy.

But being a jockey, and being intensely involved in horse racing means being a professional, a business man, a sportsman and sometimes a celebrity as well as an expert horseman.

This means there are constantly making contacts, telephoning trainers and owners, studying form, watching race videos, assessing other jockeys and horses, looking for potential rides and suitable races, travelling, and riding trackwork. For a jockey, horse racing is a very busy lifestyle.

And of course the weight watch is a constant factor in their lifestyle. Diet and exercise plays an important part of their day and is very time consuming. This involves careful preparation of meals, hours of exercise and most likely hours in the sauna.

This takes immense personal discipline and the pressure doesn’t let up during the week. There is always work to be done, checking the handicapped weights, assessing rides, arranging their rides, checking barrier draws and course layouts, the likely weather, discussing riding tactics, and taking into consideration the abilities, tactics and running styles of their opposition for each of their rides.

So a jockey who has several rides in an afternoon can be kept very busy indeed not to mention any commitment to mid-week horse racing, holiday meetings, country meetings or interstate events. And there is always trackwork. Even on the morning of race day jockeys still ride trackwork. For jockeys, horse racing means trackwork. Trackwork means rising every morning at 4 or 5 am to be at the track or stables. This can be a glorious experience in the summer time of course with the sounds and smells of the city awakening or the countryside coming to life and it is good to get the days work over before the heat of the day. And the winter – cold, bleak, misty and a few hours to go before there’s even a hint of a sunrise.

Again we can go to the words of A.B.Paterson who describes the scene so well in his poem “Only a Jockey”:

“Out in the grey cheerless chill of the morning light,
Out on the track where the night shades still lurk;
Ere the first gleam of the sun god’s returning light,
Round come the racehorses early at work”.

On race day, once at the course, jockeys can be seen checking the course, track conditions and surface, having a sauna, checking riding gear, checking his weight, and closer to race time changing into the silks and keeping a close eye on the clock for time can get away on you at the course.

Then the ride: weight checked, into the saddling enclosure, last minute instructions from the trainer, mount up, a bit of a canter and gallop in front of the stand, always aware of the public’s gaze, then off to the barrier.

At the barrier the riders are under the control of the Starter and will be assisted in to the stalls by the attendants. Once in the barrier the jockey really has no time to think. He must keep his mount at ease and in check with one eye on the starter. It is a crucial time for any split second lapse of concentration and he may miss the start and it is at this point that we can see the importance of the jockey in a race.

It all comes down to this moment and to his ability; his professionalism; his horsemanship; his courage and his race skills. A life dedicated to horse racing.

Dangers of the Profession

Make no mistake about it, being a jockey is a dangerous profession.

It takes training, skill and courage. Not only in controlling a huge animal but in the running of the race itself.

Riders must be ever alert and quick thinking, able to react to the changing circumstances and conditions that occur throughout a race.

They are required to ride horses at full gallop in company with numerous others sometimes with lesser training and with poorer skills.

And sometimes under heavy rain and in dangerously poor track conditions with the thought of accidents ever present in their minds. No matter how many precautions are taken, in horse racing, accidents are inevitable.

Accidents of course mean injury and injury means loss of income and maybe the inability to ride for long periods.

This can result in a loss of status, lose of reputation and loss of confidence.

Today many risk associated with horse racing have been reduced. The racing clubs have introduced many regulations to make horse racing safer. Heavy penalties for dangerous riding, extensive camera surveillance, smaller race fields, stewards controls and inquiries all reduce risk and encourage safe racing tactics.

Improvements to the basic skull cap and other riding gear greatly reduce injury.

However, horse racing is still a dangerous past time and over the years racing accidents has taken the lives of many riders and horses.

Since 1847, sadly 300 jockeys have been killed or died from injuries as a result of falls on racecourses throughout Australia.

That may be of surprise to some but the reason these deaths are not publicised is that they occur more often in country horse racing and attract little attention.

Hundreds more jockeys have suffered injury and hospitalisation as a result of incidents and accidents during races and training.

During the running of the Caulfield Cup in 1885, which was contested by a large field of 41 starters, two horses collided and fell at the home turn bringing down most of those following. Altogether 16 horses fell and 13 others were pulled up as a result. One jockey and one horse were killed and this is probable the worst racing accident to have occurred in Australia.

Horse racing is a lot safer nowadays but the dangers for both rider and horse are inherent in the nature of horse racing and are ever present.

Riding Styles

Horse racing has been going on in England and Europe for centuries, well before Australia even became a nation. It spread to Asia and North America with the expansion of the British Empire.

The early jockeys adopted a more natural style of riding. Their riding techniques consisted of sitting in an upright position, legs hanging straight down and riding as if they were out on a days fox hunt.

Horse racing was just a matter of getting to the finish first. They used the whip and spur throughout a race and often used cut down or lighter saddles and bridles.

Many of the riders were gentleman owners, members of the upper classes who had a love for horses and horse racing as a sport. As horse racing became more competitive they utilised the skills and weight advantages of their stable hands and more of these became regular and sought after riders. This lead to the development of thinking tactics and race riding skills.

With speed becoming the ultimate factor in deciding winners, riding gear and riding positions were modified to reduce wind resistance and weight carrying ability over distance. Riders gained better balance and control by crouching down and using lighter saddles and shorter rein and stirrup.

Later the crouching position became more forward and closer to the horse and with shorter stirrup. This crouching style is said to have been introduced in England from America late in the Nineteenth Century and soon spread throughout the horse racing countries.

This is now the style we see throughout horse racing and at all race meetings and it is hard to imagine jockeys riding any other way.

Accidents, Incidents and Falls

Horse racing is a dangerous past time and over the years horse racing accidents has taken the lives of many riders and horses.

Since 1847, sadly 300 jockeys have been killed or died from injuries as a result of falls on racecourses throughout Australia.

That may be of surprise to some but the reason these deaths are not publicised is that they occur more often on the country tracks and attract little attention.

Hundreds more jockeys have suffered injury and hospitalisation as a result of incidents and accidents during horse racing and training.

Horse racing is a lot safer nowadays but the dangers for both rider and horse are inherent in the nature of horse racing and are ever present.

Here are a few of those incidents;

  • During the running of the Caulfield Cup in 1885, which was contested by a large field of 41 starters, two horses collided and fell at the home turn bringing down most of those following. Altogether 16 horses fell and 13 others were pulled up as a result. One jockey and one horse were killed and this is probable the worst horse racing accident to have occurred in Australia.
  • In March 2005, in Victoria two separate race falls at country meetings resulted in the deaths of two jockeys, Gavin Lish and Adrian Ledger.
  • On the 11th June at Eagle Farm Racecourse Jockey Michael Cahill was dislodged from his horse after passing the winning post. Clinging to the reins he skimmed alongside the horse for about 100 metres before bringing the filly to a halt. A few hours later, Michael won the $1million Stradbroke Cup.
  • In the early days, the track at Flemington was marked by a number of widely spaced posts set in the ground. But in the running of the 1878 Melbourne Cup a jockey a horse fell throwing it’s rider against one of the post and badly injuring him. As a result of that accident running rails were installed.
  • In the 1881 Cup a dog ran onto the track and became entangled in the legs of one of the horses causing it to fall bringing down another horse who fell heavily onto it’s rider who later died from the injuries.
  • In 1979, a horse was injured in the melee but did not fall. The horse, Dulcify, broke his pelvis and was destroyed.
  • At Sandown in March, 2005, A huge flock of seagulls gathered on the track were disturbed by the horses approaching at the 200metre mark. The birds literally panicked and flew right into the horses creating chaos. Several horse shied and threw their riders. 5 Jockeys were left sprawling on the track and 3 were taken to hospital. In the eleven horse race, every horse was affected by the birds and the race was declared a “no race” under the rules.
  • Four jockeys were injured in a five horse collision at Canterbury on 16 January, 1985. It took nearly an hour for the scene to be cleared and the jockeys transported to Hospital.
  • At a country race meeting at Lismore in 1988, Iris Neilsen was killed when her mount collided with a fallen horse. Iris was the first female jockey killed in Australian horse racing.

Ringing in

Ever since horse racing began in Australia, it has attracted the dishonest and those out to make easy money. Although the sport of horse racing is rigidly controlled these days the temptation of big money is always there.

Horse doping, race fixing, dishonest jockeys and the like have all had their day for sensation making headlines.

But perhaps the most dishonest practice of all is “ringing-in”. The act of substituting one horse for another, usually a fast horse for a slow one and Australian horse racing has had its share of these incidents.

The Fine Cotton Affair is one of the most notable and recent incidents of “ringing-in”.

Briefly, in 1984 at Eagle Farm Racecourse, a seven year old gelding Bold Personality was substituted for Fine Cotton, a horse with 13 wins to his credit. Bold Personality won but the switch was detected immediately after the race and Stewards acted quickly to disqualify him before any prizemoney or bets could be collected.

Investigations subsequently lead to racing figures in New South Wales and an inquiry was commenced by the Australian Jockey Club being the chief administrative body in that State at that time. The investigation resulted in nine people being warned off, most of whom protested their innocence.

However, the full story has never been told and the real perpetrators remain unknown.

Enjoying the Races

There’s more to horse racing than just betting. Here’s how to enjoy the lifestyle.

Horse racing is one of the most exciting and enjoyable sports there is and is enjoyed by many people in all walks of life.

The majority of punters are out to enjoy their day. Whether it be a flutter and a chat with their mates at the local TAB or a day at the track enjoying the sunshine and spectacle of thoroughbred horse racing.

To enjoy the game of horse racing and your betting you don’t have to be an expert form analyst. You don’t have to spend hours studying form and agonising over chances. You can simply use the newspaper selections or your favourite commentator and rely on their selections.

But it is important that you adopt a positive outlook. Look forward to the race meetings. Plan your approach; who you go with and what you will be doing.

Enjoy the anticipation, the planning, the weather, the press build up, the media hype, the rumours, the talk. If you go to the track, enjoy the journey, the excitement, the build up of the crowds, the noise, the sounds, the atmosphere, the characters in the betting ring, the fashions, and the food whether it be in the best dining room or a simple meat pie. Soak it up. Wallow in it. This is thoroughbred horse racing and its great!

Even when you lose you can make the best of the disappointment. There is always another race. Console yourself with the “can’t win them all” outlook.

Once each race is over, the buzz starts again. The betting ring comes alive, the prices fluctuate, the rumours fly, the tote ticks over as money goes on, the horses parade, the jockeys come out and mount up, the excitement and anticipation builds again as people take their seats in the stand. And at the finish, you stand up and cheer with the rest of them. And it’s all there for you. You are part of it. Part of history in the making. Doesn’t it make you feel good. How can you help but enjoy it.

Here are a few hints to help you enjoy throughbred horse racing:

  • Money to bet with: To enjoy your betting you simply can’t lose money that you can not afford. Before you start betting you should have enough money set aside to meet your recreational needs.
  • Limit your bets: You need to limit both the size of you bets and the number of bets. Decide before hand which races you will not bet on.
  • Read and analyse comments and features in the formguide: There’s a wealth of information to be found in the articles and comments in every formguide. They’re often chock full of information that point to winners.
  • Don’t bet on short priced favourites or odds on: There’s simply no value in betting on these and little satisfaction for the punter. Give them a miss.
  • Have a trifecta bet or something exotic: But don’t get carried away. When you do strike gold the dividend may be something to remember.
  • Follow your favourite jockey or trainer: This is an excellent way of providing a great interest in racing. It provides an opportunity to get close to the human side of racing.
  • Follow happenings in the racing industry: Learn everything you can about the game. Not only about betting but about racing generally. Learn about trainers and jockeys, their professions and their lifestyles. Learn about the clubs, the history and the traditions. All this information and knowledge goes a long way to increasing your enjoyment of this exciting industry.
  • Join a syndicate: A syndicate will give you a direct interest in a particular horse you become more familiar in training methods, the form cycle, the structure of racing and more appreciative of the efforts of others involved in the career and care of the horse.
  • Enjoy the amenities: You may get more enjoyment from the races if you decide to make a day of it. Travel in style and comfort. Take in the atmosphere and the surrounds. Wander the grounds and soak up the atmosphere, the excitement, the gardens, the fashions and the characters. Join the betting pandemonium or simply find a quiet spot. Take time to view the horses parading and learn to identify the horses and riders from the racebook colours and numbers.Book in for a meal as the dining facilities are excellent at the major racecourses and perhaps leave your betting until later on in the program. Take time out for a cup of tea or a quiet drink.If you give a little thought and planning to your time spent on course it will make your day at the races enjoyable and memorable.

When you win big! Its a great feeling to win at the races and an experience which should be shared.

Take a friend to dinner or buy presents for the family or take them to the movies. You don’t have to brag about it or tell people how much you won. Share your success and you will find others will share in the enjoyment with you.

If you are by yourself, as many folk are these days, then be a little indulgent and give yourself a treat or buy yourself something you have always wanted.

A Day at the Races

If you are a punter who goes to the track often then you are probably one of many who enjoy the atmosphere of the racecourse. Whether it be a small country course or a major metropolitan meeting of a Saturday afternoon, that is the place you want to be. That is the place where you feel most comfortable and where you can feel part of the world; part of what’s going on and where you can spend some time relaxing and not feel that life is passing you by.

Although you may not get to the course until after midday, the track has been a hive of activity since dawn so let’s just stop for a moment and contemplate the activity that goes on at a racecourse during a race day.

In the summer time, with daylight saving, the sun rises very early but not early enough to beat the strappers and horse handlers. There are always a few people about the racecourse at this time of day and a few horses engaged in their training runs and other exercise activities. The stable hands are busy and the trainers and jockeys are about, often engaged in deep discussion.

As the sun gets higher these people have done a mornings work and they begin to disappear and head off to breakfast or back home. Many will be back later in the morning for their part in the day’s racing.

The ground staff are next to attract the eye, engage in putting finishing touches to the gardens, grounds and lawns which are so pleasing to the eye and which we, as spectators, all take for granted.

As the morning wears on, racecourse officials and administrative staff begin to arrive and we begin to see others arrive too, bookmakers, security staff, caterers, kitchen staff, Tote staff, clerks, attendants, journalist, TV crews, commentators, jockeys and a few early spectators. Horses are arriving in their floats throughout the morning and their stable hands are busy tending their needs.

As the spectators begin to stream in, the dining rooms and take away food stalls become busy and towards midday there’s a buzz of excitement in the air as the starting time of the first race draws near. There’s an increasing hum in the betting ring and the tote display flashes out price fluctuations like a living thing.

The horses are led out into the mounting yard for the first race and the little groups of owners, trainers and jockeys disperse as jockeys are given final instructions and mount up for their warm up gallop.

Those spectators back in the stand will look carefully for their interest in this race, most identifying the horse of their choice by the saddlecloth number, others by the colours of the jockeys silks.

Soon the horses are on their way to the barrier and its not long before the red light is flashing and the starter sends them on their way. A murmur goes through the crowd and becomes louder as the horses approach the turn, raising to the shouts of massed voices as they thunder up the straight to the winning post.

And then the race is over: a few smiles and laughter about; a few despondent and resigned punters but most hurry away to do it all again.

Towards late afternoon, the sun is low in the sky and the last race is over. The crowds have gone, the bookies are packing up, a jockey or two leave the change rooms, a few horse floats move towards the gates, a garbage truck is busy outside the kitchens, attendants are locking up and an army of cleaners move through the stands and grounds gathering litter and rubbish.

As the evening descends so does the quiet, and the excitement of the racetrack dies down and it gradually returns to its normally quite, empty state.

It all sounds very nostalgic and it is. It is exciting and it is enjoyable and perhaps a similar description could be written about an afternoon at the TAB as some people prefer that to the hustle and bustle of the racecourse.

Many people have a strong feeling for racing and the atmosphere it generates and to many it is more than a sport or recreation, it is a lifestyle.

The following lines are from a poem by A.B.Paterson called “Old Pardon, the son of Reprieve” which you may recognise and which describes the feeling for the races and the racehorses.

“And if they have racing hereafter,
(And who is to say they will not?)
When the cheers and the shouting and laughter
Proclaim that the battle grows hot;
As they come down the racecourse a-steering,
He’ll rush to the front, I believe;
And you’ll hear the great multitude cheering
For Pardon, the son of Reprieve.”

But betting can get out of hand and become a problem. When it does it is not very enjoyable and we may find ourselves caught in an ever widening circle of despair.

This does not always mean giving up the races completely as there is life after betting and a little controlled betting is enjoyable. Don’t hesitate to seek help if you feel you may have a problem and get on the road back to enjoying the races.

And that is what its really all about – enjoying the races.