The Great Debate

Originally posted on A Turf Fascination:

Hello everyone. You can now give us a like on facebook. That’s right everyone, we are moving up in the world! Tell all your internet friends! The more likes the better the content; so like away!

Is is possible to determine Australia’s greatest ever racehorse? No not really unfortunately. However a Turf Fascination together with the godfather of the classic department at Newcastle University have invented a system that can come closer than ever before to determining Australia’s greatest ever horse.

We will have a look at the five original inductees of the Racing Hall of Fame plus Makybe Diva in our attempt to use this newly developed system to find our greatest ever horse.

Now it is important to mention that this exercise is an attempt to find Australia’s greatest ‘all-round’ horse. All round means exactly that ‘all-round.’ This exercise does not take into account ability alone, nor does it take…

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The greatest match race ever

Originally posted on A Turf Fascination:

Hello everyone

Over Christmas, if you are stuck for ideas on how to pass the time, then please enjoy the following story. Thanks to Ron Hale for his help with this post.

Since Thoroughbreds were first brought to the American colonies more than 300 years ago, match racing — featuring one man’s horse against another man’s horse — has been an important part of the sport of racing. In the 1800s, match races took place with regularity.

By the 20th Century, however, important match races grew fewer and fewer. A series of important international match races were held in 1923. During the 1930s and 1940s, there was another spike in interest in match racing, with a dozen or so contests being held involving national champions. Alsab met Whirlaway; Armed met Assault; Busher met Duranza; Capot met Coaltown; etc.

Arguably, the most famous match races of the current century could probably…

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Kingston Loch or Tulloch Town

Originally posted on A Turf Fascination:

Hello everyone.

What horse was best Tommy Smith ever trained? Tulloch right? Or was it Kingston Town? Even Redcraze might have a chance and lets not forget Gunsynd. For the sake of time management lets just assume it is between Kingston Town and Tulloch. It breaks my heart to say, but they are probably just a little bit better than Redcraze. So, who was the best? Tulloch surely. Or was he? Yes. Are we sure? Ummmmmmmm. Lets have a quick compare just to be certain.

As two-year-olds

Well this one is not even close. Tulloch had 13 starts as a two year old for seven wins and 6 seconds. He never finished any worst than second as a two-year-old. In 1957 the Sires’ was the best  two-year-old race in every state. Tulloch won the Sires’ in Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney. In the Sydney Sires’ Tulloch beat the best two-year-old of…

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Hello everyone

It has been a hectic week here at A Turf Fascination, so unfortunately there is no time for a dose of wisdom today. Although, please just remember despite the fact that Dane Swan will be out for three – four weeks, the Pies have not been ruined by injury, nor have they had a bad draw. The pies supports just can’t quite get their heads around mediocrity at the minute. They think they have had a hard draw (second easiest in the AFL) and the most injuries (nothing compared to the other clubs). So basically, stuff the pies. Go Hawks!


Best of the day – Liberation (Rosehill race 1 number 7). A Gai colt that is flying. He won a trial recently by five lengths and should take some beating.

Second best – Cradle Me (Rosehill race 2 number 3). Looks set to bounce back after being very unlucky last start. In great form.

Should just win – Cluster (race 2 number 3). Even money is a spoil. Should be $1.20.

Up in weight… no worries! – Scream Machine (race 6 number 2). Will take some beating in the Epsom if they play their cards right. Based on that, it should win this with 58.5kg.

Getting better – Yeager (Eagle Farm race 3 number 3). Two starts for two unlucky placings. Eagle Farm suits

Huge odds but looks a great chance – Pulsar (Eagle Farm race 8 number 17). 

Will be ahead with 400m to run and can hold on – Doc Hennessy (Morphettville race 4 number 8). Ran second recently beaten 0.4 lengths by a smart one over around this trip. Third was 10 lengths back. A repeat of that will see him very hard to beat here.

Trainer in form – Seven Falls (Flemington race 4 number 7). Here are the results from Ciaron Maher’s last ten starters…

CaptureSeven winners, two places and a 5th from his last ten starters. This horse is called Seven Falls and he is really really good.

Back this one as well – This is the Show (Flemington race 4 number 9). A talented horse that will win one day.

Up to her right trip – Doubtfilly (Flemington race 6 number 6). Have a look at the 2012 Golden Slipper. Have a look at the horse that runs 4th behind three Group One winning superstars…

Doubtfilly is a great horse, she just needs luck. This is her right trip and she looks exceptional value at $11.

The fastest horse in Australia, but unfortunately not the toughest (will be ahead with 100m to run) – Fab Fevola (Flemington race 7 number 8). Will lead and look the winner but don’t be surprised if he just gets a little tired in the last 100m.

In our little hideaway beneath the waves – Ringo (Flemington race 8 number 1). Backing up and looks a progressive type.

Good luck and stay tuned.


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Eye Liner vs Reisling


Here is a little something to read while A Turf Fascination does the form for the weekend. Sorry about the delay. Tips and Wisdom coming tonight!

Originally posted on A Turf Fascination:

Hello everyone

Here is another letter from a fan who loves the history of racing. Keep them coming! This is why Eye Liner and Reisling have races named after them…

Dear A Turf Fascination

I was taken down memory lane today while surveying the form for Ipswich, in particular the Eye Liner Stks. I was there, at Royal Randwick on April 24, 1965 – alongside over 60,000 others – to witness the race of the year, the Champagne Stakes, then 6 furlongs.
The reason? The champion 2-y-o of the Autumn, the sensational filly Reisling, winner of the Slipper (her 8th consecutive win, in record time, at evens fav), up against the Mighty Midget Eye Liner (also winner of her previous 8, in Brisbane). I doubt that any two year clash (since Todman and Tulloch) had ever aroused such excitement.
Eye Liner, albeit against ordinary opposition, had carried big-to-huge weights in her previous 4 victories – 9.1 (57.5)…

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Bob Charley

Hello everyone

The Official Ambassador for the Warrnambool Racing Club this year was Bob Charley AO. Bob has spent a great portion of his life involved in the racing industry and we are very lucky at A Turf Fascination to have Bob share with us his experiences of the 2014 Warrnambool Carnival. A High Chaparral gelding named Chaparro won the infamous 5500m 33 fence Grand Annual Steeplechase this year, and Bob just happens to own a share in this horse. As a committed jumps racing supporter and founder of the Corrigan Club (, Bob had always dreamt of winning Australia’s greatest steeplechase, as has any steeplechaser owner has since the races’ inception in 1970. Bob has now won the race that has eluded him for so long, and the former Chairman of the AJC details the thrill of such a win exclusively for Gai’s Gazette. The below article is compulsory reading for anyone with even a passing interest in jumps racing or any form of thoroughbred racing for that matter.

Bob is a former Chairman of the Australian Jockey Club and Australian Racing Board and is currently the Chairman of the Australian Racing Hall of Fame selection panel. As a passionate jumps racing supporter, he is very enthusiastic about Gai’s decision to train jumpers. For more information on Bob Charley or on the Warrnambool jumping carnival please contact Zeb Armstrong at . Jumps racing is a great and very affordable way to be involved in the racing industry. With the likes of Bob, Gai, Darren Weir and Peter Moody all targeting not just jumpers but flat horses at the Warrnambool carnival every year, expect The ‘Bool to become an even more iconic festival of racing in the future.


I made my annual pilgrimage to the mecca of jumps racing in Australia… the three day Warrnambool Carnival.  This meeting is the closest thing to the great Cheltenham Festival held each year in March in Gloucestershire, England.  These are not what you would call “social” meetings as they are attended by thousands of knowledgeable racegoers who have a passion for jumping racing.

My motoring journey covers 1600 kilometres from my home in Port Macquarie, NSW which I undertake over three days.  I approach the heart of Western Districts racing through such towns as Colac, Camperdown and Terang and reach my destination at Port Fairy, one of the most beautiful seaside towns in the land.

On Monday night, before the racing begins, there is a function at the most popular racing pub in town The Whalers at Warrnambool. The Australian Jumps Racing Association conducts this get-together which includes guest speakers, raffles and plenty of banter about the coming events.

Tuesday sees four jumps races, three maiden hurdles and the time-honoured Brierly Steeplechase. The day is overcast and the track has been affected by overnight rain. Gai trains the first winner to keep her jumping record intact at two winners from two starters. Tenby Lady leads all the way, at some stages being ten lengths in front. Although she appears to be tiring in the straight she has enough in reserve to hold off Urban Explorer who runs on bravely and will win soon.  He is trained by Eric Musgrove This division is the fastest of the three hurdles and appears the strongest form.

He’s Hot To Trot came from last near the turn to win the second division, relishing the conditions. This son of Galileo was ridden by Trent Wells and trained by Fran Houlahan and Brian Johnston.

In the third of the Tuesday hurdle races, Steven Pateman was at his best on Elms to worry out favourite Thubian and then come away to score impressively. As most trainers want to win a race at this Carnival, the standard of the Maiden Hurdle races is strong and many of the beaten division in these races will succeed against weaker company. Add this to the fact that Racing Victoria provides a $10,000 bonus to the winners of Maiden Hurdles and it is easy to understand why there are more horses qualified to jump this year than in any recent year.

In between races Gai was interviewed at the traditional lunch attended by nearly 600 ladies. If she had suggested that she was syndicating shares in prospective jumpers at that lunch she would have filled her quota in no time. The Ladies Luncheon is a big event and as well as the 600 that attended, there was a waiting list of 50.

The highlight of the day is the Brierly Steeple and Palmero treated the crowd to a brilliant front-running display of chasing, winning by three lengths from a brave Cat’s Fun. His earlier win in the Von Doussa at Oakbank confirmed his place as the best chaser in the early part of the season although his stablemate Bashboy has not yet appeared over jumps this year as he is aimed at the later races.

A most enjoyable dinner with Gai and Co. at the Stag Inn in Port Fairy. As is her habit, the Lady Trainer made it a point of going around the tables talking to everyone in the room. She repeated the performance the following morning when we went to the beach at Warrnambool to watch the horses work on the sand, swim and water-walk. There is a café at the beach from which there is a view of the beach work and swimming and it is a haven for the hardy folk who attend each morning’s training.

The skies had cleared for Wednesday which features the Galleywood Hurdle (one of the top four Hurdle races on the calendar) and the Wangoom sprint over the 1200m. The Galleywood was won by Gotta Take Care who is a truly grand nine-year-old who mixes flat races and jumping. He had won over 2600 metres on the flat the previous Friday.  Gai had Valediction in the race and Richard Cully took him to a clear lead which he held until near the turn and then Gotta Take Care swept past with second favourite Montgomery in pursuit but unable to match it with the winner.  While Valediction faded to third, it must be remembered that this was a significant leap in class and he won’t find this opposition in a Restricted Hurdle in the near future.

The Wangoom was won by the Peter Moody trained Kneeling who held off a late challenge from Blackie, trained by Darren Weir who was shooting for a new Mercedes, the prize for any trainer who can win four races over the three days including a “major” (Brierly, Wangoom, Grand Annual or Cup).  Weir achieved that the following day.

After the races Gai was the guest of honour at a The Premier’s cocktail party. It would be hard to imagine a politician who is a greater supporter of racing (particularly jumps racing) than Premier Napthine.

It is not hard to realise how important this Carnival is to the City of Warrnambool and surrounding districts.  All the restaurants and pubs do a roaring trade while the many accommodation houses are booked well in advance. Racing people love this meeting and gather to enjoy the company of like-minded folk.  Many attend by catching the train from Melbourne.

No doubt Thursday is the “Grand Final”.  The day started with the Restricted Hurdle in which my friends and myself shared ownership of the favourite Monkey Briscoe who had run a creditable third on the flat on the Tuesday prior.  Monkey led but was worried for the front for most of the trip until shaking off Regina Coeli in the straight. He went clear but was left a sitting shot for the Eric Musgrove trained Take Out who deserved a win as he has been most consistent. Monkey Briscoe fought on to the end and will soon step up to steeplechasing.  While I love all jumps racing, it is chasing that is the highlight.

And so to the Annual.  This race is the greatest race in Australian jumping and a spectacle which can compare favourably to any race in the world. Apart from the thirty three jumps over a gruelling 5500 metres, it is the layout of the course and the fact that they go both ways which adds to the excitement.  Thousands of true believers make the trek to the top of the hill for the spectacular view over the racecourse as the field goes into the Brierly Paddock, over the Cox’s Road Double into Granter’s Paddock then downhill over the Al Garhood Jump to the Tozer Road Double where they turn left on the first occasion and then right in the run home!

No race means as much to me. Last year my old warrior Man of Class was in front as he passed me at the 250m but was caught near the line by Banna Strand….I was gutted! But, try again we must and this year I had high hopes of having three horses in the race, Man of Class (Ciaron Maher), Seeking The Silver (John Wheeler) and Chaparro (Patrick Payne). Unfortunately both Man of Class and Seeking the Silver sustained injuries and had to be spelled.

Of the seven runners in this year’s Grand Annual Steeplechase, the two favourites Lord of the Song (Patrick Payne) and Palmero (Ciaron Maher) were expected to dominate the race. I doubt if any of my part-owners in Chaparro had any confidence in him to win but we knew that he would run the distance and he loves heavy ground. I mentioned to Zeb Armstrong, Lea Stracey and Gai the night before the big race that I wanted a heavy 12 track (knowing full well that a heavy 10 is as bottomless as it gets in Australia). We had to settle on a heavy 10.  Settling last and staying in that position until climbing the hill the second time, Richard Cully gave him a perfect patient ride. Although the leaders had at one stage been ten lengths clear of the chasers, by the time they negotiated the Tozer Road Double Chaparro had made ground and before the turn there were only two possible winning chances.

Palmero had raced clear and it proved to be the exact reverse of my experience the year before. When they passed me Palmero was holding a two length lead over Chaparro who was holding but not really making ground. However, in the last 100 metres the leader began to plug under his big weight and Chaparro ran him down to win going away.

Steven Pateman is my good friend having scored numerous times on my horses. He was unable to get down to Chaparro’s weight but I’m sure he would have chosen Palmero in any event.  He said afterwards that he could hear a horse coming and he knew it was Chaparro because he makes a noise when he gallops, the legacy of a wind operation two years ago.

My emotions got the better of me and when Bruce Clark beckoned me to speak to him on TVN, I had to compose myself. The presentations and celebrations are still a bit of a blur but all the part-owners were thrilled and all gave the credit to Patrick Payne who has only been training a short time yet has won two Grand Annuals as well as other feature jumps races. Patrick Payne we must remember won a Cox Plate on Northerly.

I can assure you that jumps racing is a marvellous spectacle and I’m sure that Gai shares that view.  Although only tackling this type of training in the past two years, she has tasted success and will become more involved in the future.  Older flat racing horses need not be retired, many have a life in jumps racing and they love it!

We could not wished for Chaparro to have been better ridden. That said; I must pay tribute to Steven Pateman who rides and schools all Patrick’s horses as well as those of Ciaron Maher. Not only is he the leading rider but his opinion is highly regarded as to the prospects of jumping horses

Congratulations to Darren Weir on winning the Mercedes which is provided as a prize by Callaghan Motors, a long-time sponsor of the Warrnambool Racing Club. Weir currently leads the Victorian trainers premiership and enjoyed great success at this meeting, winning seven races over the three days including two of the features, the Galleywood Hurdle (Gotta Take Care) and the Warrnambool Cup (Akzar).

See you all at The ‘Bool in 2015!

Good luck and stay tuned


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May the living let us in before the dead tear us apart

Hello everyone


Is this cruel prick the greatest villain in the history of film?


The character is Anton Chigurh and the film is No Country for Old Men. This film sits right at the peak of durable scariness for the good people at A Turf Fascination, and this villain stays with you forever!

Here he is thoroughly enjoying strangling a cop with his legs!



He is a traditional villain in that he is motivated by money, but he also seems to really enjoy killing. He is suave, he is well spoken, he is calm and he is bloody scary. Not to mention he is a well oiled and perfectly tuned psychopathic killing machine.

How do you beat a bloke who looks for an excuse to kill you; who turns your own words against you in the hope you will incriminate yourself and therefore can be killed? He can’t be talked around, he can scare you with the tone of his voice and he is not just mad but very talented and very innovative.

What other film villains could rival this bloke as the best?

Maybe The Wicked Witch of the West. She was a scary bastard of a thing also!

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Or Dr. Lecter?


Now I personally have never seen The Silence of the Lamb all the way through; it is simply too scary, but Hannibal Lecter would no doubt top most people’s lists.

But for mine, Anton Chigurh takes the cake. He haunts your dreams!


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Best of the day – Sexy Diamond (Newcastle race 4 number 4). This Waterhouse trained filly is flying. She will eventually get over much more distance, but she is primed to run really well in this 900m dash on Saturday. She might just be something very special.

Second best – Saturn Rock (Doomben race 5 number 6). After going very close last start, this girl finally gets to a race and track where she will be very hard to beat. The main danger is 4. Grey Countess, but should all go to plan, Saturn Rock will be very hard to beat.

The Caulfield Cup hope – Laidback Larry (Randwick race 5 number 8). First up last time this boy bolted in. He is first up here and has only a few non-winners to beat. He is not 100% wound up, but he will lead and  will be very hard to get past.

Can bounce back – Global Domination (Randwick race 1 number 5). At his first up run, this colt did all the work and was only just swamped late in the race. He is a very smart colt and with a bit of luck he can bounce back in this race at close to $15. Have a look at his stablemate Another Al also. Both are good odds and can win.

Might as well jump – Moudre (Morphettville race 1 number 7). After three years without a win, this boy beat a good field on a heavy track over the jumps at Warrnambool. He has all the makings of a great jumper and he should beat most of these slow horses in this his third jumps start.

Simply better than the rest – Prince of Capers (Morphettville race 6 number 1). This horse is just better than his rivals. He has his share of weight and he has not won for a while, but if he runs to 90% of his ability and gets even luck, he will win.

Under the odds but should still win – Vain Queen (Flemington race 4 number 6). If this mare gets to evens then back her. But at the minute she is under the odds. Pillar of Creation will be hard to beat as will Nearest to the Pin and Le Bonsir. Box all four in a trifecta 2,4,6,7 and maybe (if you are winning) throw a bit on Vain Queen or have Vain Queen to beat the other three in an exacta.

Over the odds – Akavoroun (Flemington race 6 number 4). This gelding can win on heavy or on dry tracks. He has only tasted defeat once in his life and he loves Flemington. He should be $3.50 but he is $7.50. If Chris Waller trained this horse he would be even money in this race. Keep an eye on The Cleaner also, but Akavoroun is the one to beat.

Good luck and stay tuned.



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