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A monthly Newsletter for the Clients of Laurel Oak Bloodstock

Editor: Louis Mihalyka


The spring racing carnival has well and truly cranked up with the Caulfield Cup now having been run and won.  The big daddy of Australian racing, Melbourne Cup Week, now looms large on the horizon and there is no reason why it won't continue to be the highlight of the Australian racing calendar again.

The Cox Plate provided a fairytale finish (unless you backed El Segundo) with Fields Of Omagh (FOO) scoring a remarkable last-stride win to record his second Cox Plate success.  As one Melbourne newspaper put it, he did it in his last stride in his last race.  As a 9yo it was a remarkable postscript given the lead-up when the normal pre-race fanfare on track, which highlights the great Cox Plates of the past, gave way to a highlight summary of FOO’s previous four attempts which resulted in a fifth, a first, a second and a third in that order.  Further, they allowed Fields Of Omagh, who was saddlecloth number 2, to lead the field onto the track rather than going with the traditional number 1.

For him to come from last and win in the manner that he did at odds of 20/1 provided a story that you would have thought to be too far-fetched if you had read it pre-race.

The win of Fields Of Omagh and the emergence of Tawqeet as the Melbourne Cup favourite have set up the potential for David Hayes to score a first in Australian racing history.  And that is the same trainer winning all four ‘majors’ on the Australian racing calendar, they being the Golden Slipper, the Caulfield Cup, the Cox Plate and the Melbourne Cup. That provides the possibility for a trainer to be making racing history in the Melbourne Cup as opposed to a horse, as Makybe Diva did last year. 

Our annual Melbourne Cup Preview will be emailed prior to Thursday night before I head south for Cup Week.

I have tempered the usual line about the ‘much-anticipated’ Melbourne Cup Preview because after last year’s Melbourne Cup prediction and this year’s Golden Slipper prediction where we didn’t get it right, that level of anticipation may have dropped off!!  Hopefully this year we will restore the ‘much-anticipated’ status to the Melbourne Cup Preview by steering you onto the right track with the winner.

Racing on the Laurel Oak front has not matched the frenetic pace of elsewhere but that is about to change.  Despite the size of the team, TEMPELHOF, GREEN LAGONDA and CUTTING IN were the only runners for the month.  The tempo will increase dramatically from this week onwards as four horses trialled last Friday and will be set to resume over the coming weeks while CUTTING IN, LUCETIUS, and KLONDIKE KID are all due to run this week.  Further, we have around fifteen horses that came back into training within a fortnight of each other at the start of October so they will be set to hit the tracks for what will be a very busy racing period from December onwards

We thought we were in for a bright preparation when ‘The Green Machine’ resumed with a good win at the Gold Coast in early September.  However, a subsequent disappointment from a wide draw second-up was followed by an unplaced and prima facie disappointing performance as favourite at the Gold Coast early in October.  It turned out, however, that he was galloped on this day so we were forgiving.  Fortunately the injury was not serious and he recovered quickly enough to be able to take his place at Eagle Farm last Wednesday, 25 October.  I almost missed the race because I was in a police station being fingerprinted!  More on that story later.  Gillian Heinrich had reported that Green Lagonda looked particularly well before the race and she thought he was ready to run a good race.  That, however, is typical Green Lagonda and in the past at the 200m mark he was often run over by the opposition.  On this occasion Kevin Forrester rated him well in front despite being taken on by other horses, and when the important moment came at the 250m mark he quickened and came away from the opposition for a good win in good time.  Once again, we are in optimistic mode with him and hopefully he can string a few together now after what has been a frustrating career hindered by niggling injuries.

There should be a suitable race for Green Lagonda in Brisbane over Cup Week.


Tempelhof was sent out as odds-on favourite in his only run for the month at Kyneton, and what looked like being a lay-down misere formality turned into a disappointment when he finished third.  It was an uncharacteristic performance from this consistent horse however it turned out he had pulled up with an injury that will require a three- to four-month break.

Cutting In made his long-awaited debut at Wyong on 12 October and ran a great second, just missing out on scoring a debut win when he finished the race off very well.  It has been a long, patient wait for the owners getting this 4yo, now trained by Joseph Pride, to the races, however he does look a promising horse and hopefully he can go one better today (Tuesday 31  October) while this newsletter is being prepared.

Today (Tuesday 31 October) sees the opening of a new international home of rest for retired champion racehorses. 

While it was always going to receive a level of publicity it has received even more so as a result of the news that Fields Of Omagh will be retiring to this property at Tullamarine, near Melbourne’s International Airport. 

Other residents at this new home, which will be opened to the public, will be Might And Power, Doriemus, Better Loosen Up, Paris Lane, Rogan Josh, Saintly and Sky Heights, amongst others.

The winners of four Melbourne Cups, four Caulfield Cups, five Cox Plates, one Japan Cup and many other major Group One races are amongst this elite group of horses.

Hopefully this new venture will be a success as it will provide the opportunity for racing fans to visit their heroes of days gone by.

Tony Noonan scored a good win at Caulfield on Thousand Guineas Day with his tough 9yo, ironically called Youthful. 

That appears to have started a trend that suggests that there is continuing life in the old legs of racehorses.  Fields Of Omagh, of course, won the Cox Plate last Saturday as a 9yo.  Yours Truly was on El Segundo and the fact that I was nosed out by a 9yo was not lost on me. 

However, the following day, on the way home from the Cox Plate, we received a tip for a horse racing at Orange called Hot Bake Clarrie.  ‘Clarrie’ looked home when alas down the outside came a horse to just beat him.  You guessed it, another 9yo – this time a 9yo called Mia Amanda.

Next time I fancy a horse in a race I will be saving on any 9yos in the race!  Whether that trio of 9yos winning in the same month is just a coincidence or the start of a trend of later-maturing horses caused by the impact of the greater number of shuttle stallions coming into the country which tend to be later-maturing than traditional Australian horses is something only time will tell.

I have been able to use the line about almost missing Green Lagonda’s race because I was in a police station being fingerprinted to great dramatic effect over the past week. 

As previously reported in Grandstand View, ANAMANOR has been sent to America by the syndicate who owns her to race over there.

We learned a little about the American registration process as a result of this.   In the United States, each owner must be registered and that costs $US375 (about $AUD550) per owner!  As part of the registration process you have to be fingerprinted.  As a consequence of that the American registration authority sent me a fingerprint kit and hence the necessity to visit the local police station where that very messy job can be done for a small fee.

Several of the local constabulary were keen to tell me that the United States is the last place to require ink fingerprinting as the rest of the world has taken on computerised fingerprinting which allows prints to be emailed around the world.  Not so in the United States yet.  Before this I did not even know where our local police station was!


With many Grandstand View readers about to descend on Melbourne for Cup Week I am pleased to report that Flexi-betting and First Four betting are now available in Victoria. 

Victoria also has a product that is not yet available in New South Wales called Parlay Formula.  It took a while to work out the subtleties of this new betting type as even the local advisory staff were not able to properly explain it.  However, Parlay Formula is a slight variation of the normal parlay available in New South Wales.  In the New South Wales-based parlay you have every combination of doubles, trebles, quadrellas etc., depending on the number of horses you have in the parlay.  For example, if you have a four-horse parlay you automatically have on one ticket eleven combinations being one quadrella, four trebles and six doubles covering those four horses in every possible one of those combinations.  Similarly, a three-horse parlay represents four combinations being one treble and three doubles.

In Victoria, the parlay formula is somewhat different as you nominate a parlay formula 1, parlay formula 2, parlay formula 3, etc, up to parlay formula number 6.  The parlay formula ‘number’ means that you have to have that number of wins within your parlay to have a collect and that is the only number of wins allowed.  For example, in a parlay formula 3, whether you pick three races, four races, five races, etc, you only have trebles (i.e. three winning bets).  Similarly if you select parlay formula 2 you only have doubles and number 4 represents quadrellas only (i.e. four winning bets).  (Formula 1 means single bets only but the advantage is that you can have up to 6 single win, place, each-way quinella bets on one ticket.)

Consequently, if you want to achieve the same result as a New South Wales-style parlay, for example a three-horse parlay with the one treble and three doubles, you need to take a parlay formula 3 ticket with those three horses and also a parlay formula 2 ticket with those three horses.  If the bet was for $5 for example, the parlay formula 3 ticket will cost you $5 as there is only one treble combination while the parlay formula 2 ticket will cost you $15 as there are three doubles combinations amongst the three horses.  The cost is the same overall as in New South Wales where your three-horse parlay would simply cost you $20 on the one ticket to achieve the same combinations.

Another variable with the parlays is that aside from win and place you also have the option of a quinella in your parlay combinations so by way of example in a three-race parlay you can have a win on the first race, a place in the second race and a quinella in the third race.

Hopefully you will find that information handy when you are having a bet in Victoria and don’t waste a couple of hours working out what was going on like I did!

As we constantly agitate Racing NSW for changes and improvements to programming, we were invited to a consultative meeting at Racing NSW headquarters which involved several prominent trainers and representatives of different facets of the industry.  There were many good ideas put forward and there has been an update meeting to advise of the progress of the various suggestions.  One I particularly liked was that BOBS bonuses should be paid for two years after a horse debuts rather than for two and three-year-old seasons only.  This will give later-maturing horses a fair crack at BOBS racing and will certainly help keep a lot more horses in the NSW racing system.  Unfortunately this is a suggestion only at this stage.

There are also changes mooted for programming away from what has become a seemingly one-dimensional maiden, Class 3, Class 6 series of race options in Sydney for restricted-grade horses.  It is now confirmed that from December these will be interspersed with the previous no-met win and one-met win type races as they provide different options for different grades of horses, in particular country-trained horses that are disadvantaged by the current system. 

However, the most radical change is the proposed introduction on a trial basis of ratings-based races.  Victoria has now made an announcement that the same concept will also be trialled there.

For two years now NSW and Victorian horses have a formal handicap rating, which is published with nominations in Victoria and available on the Racing NSW website for NSW-trained horses.

Under the current class system, if a horse wins a race it moves up a Class (eg a Class One horse means it has won one race, a Class Two has won two races etc) and can't go back, which means the useful life of a racehorse is often limited when it reaches its mark and consequently is sold interstate to a weaker racing area or retired. 

Under ratings-based racing a horse will have a particular handicap rating based on the quality of his performances.  If it wins a race within its own rating range it may not necessarily increase its handicap rating so it can continue to race in the same grade, albeit with more weight.  However, if it can't win with that weight then it will ultimately drift down in weight again.  If their performances decrease in time their handicap rating will also decrease and they will be allowed to drop in the quality of races that they are running in (not unlike golf handicapping).

All in all, the new ratings-based races should allow longer race careers for many horses and eliminate that frustrating concept of a healthy horse “reaching its mark”.

That is a brief précis of the concept without going into all the various subtleties involved, however having seen sample fields and how they would work it will provide a lot more interesting racing and the potential for larger race fields because small fields remain the scourge of both the punter and the racing industry due to the reduced betting turnover.


Ex-pat Aussie Steve Brown has been in Canada for about twenty years now (although that hasn’t stopped him taking a share in Rocket Radar) and in response to the story in August Grandstand View on great sporting records, he pointed out a few more which are clearly influenced by the environment he has been living in for the past years.  They include Joe di Maggio’s 56-game hitting streak and Ted Williams hitting 400 in a season, both baseball records that are unlikely to ever be broken.  There was also Byron Nelson winning eleven consecutive PGA events which, remarkable as it is, may seem slightly more achievable given how well Tiger Woods is going at the moment.  Coincidentally, since receiving this message from Steve, Byron Nelson died, aged 94, and as a result his mighty achievements have received a more public airing.

When US golfer Craig Stadler was recently asked why he has a new putter, his answer was “Because the last one didn’t float”!  Temper, temper, Craig!


The form lines influencing the VRC Derby have been unbelievably consistent in recent years. 

In the past 16 years since 1990 every Derby winner has come via either the AAMI Vase at Moonee Valley a week before the Derby, or the Norman Robinson at Caulfield a fortnight before the Derby.  In fact, all bar one of those 16 horses won or placed in those lead-up races with the only exception being Reading in 1992, who was fourth in The Vase. 

The Derby winner for the last 4 years has come from The Vase while the previous 4 years the winner came from the Norman Robinson.  Bearing this in mind, the placegetters in the Norman Robinson were Get Square, Ulfah and Sir Lago with Egomaniac fourth.  In The Vase, Efficient beat The One with Excites third and Danever fourth.  We can at least reduce the potential winners by one as Excites has gone for a spell.  Watching those races, my Derby selections would be Efficient, The One and Ulfah in that order.

Until next month, Happy Racing!

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