Horse racing and sex have much in common: sires cover dams (except for the gay horses — Ed.), horse and jockey work in rhythmic harmony, there is fantasy and stimulation (too much of the latter, according to the RSPCA); and perfect timing is required to reach an orgasmic conclusion on the finishing line … Nothing to see here folks, please move along!
And so it came to pass at Moonee Valley on Saturday.
If William Samuel Cox (aka the WS Cox Plate and the founder of the Moonee Valley racecourse) didn’t exist he would have to be invented — just like his family did with the Moonee Valley Racing Club.
According to The Australian Dictionary of Biography, WS “Sam” Cox (1831-95) doesn’t exist and neither does his son AH “Archie” Cox who took over the business upon his father’s demise. However, contemporary racecourse owner John Wren (1871-1953) has an extensive entry.
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Cox opened his first venture, Kensington Park racecourse, in 1874. But Cox was looking to expand (don’t even think about it) so in 1882, he took a seven-year lease for a property nestled in a valley on the Mooney Ponds Creek called Feehan’s Farm, just beside what is now the Tullamarine Freeway.
The first meeting on September 15, 1883 resulted in a dead-heat between Eveline and Pyrette. Sam Cox died in 1895 and his son Archie became secretary. Archie held the job until he became a stipendiary steward at the VRC in 1905. His brother-in-law, Arthur Vaughan Hiskens, then took over but in 1917 the Victorian government decreed that for “fiduciary reasons” public racecourses could no longer reside in private hands.
No problem. He got a few mates together at Hosies Hotel in Flinders Street and the Moonee Valley Racing Club mutualised by electing a committee.
The Valley is a very tight and tricky track with a StrathAyr all-weather surface around its 1805-metre circumference and a straight of just 173 metres. The track rises 5.5 metres from the 800 metre mark to the post and is, of course, the home of the $3 million Cox Plate (2040 metres) — a classic weight-for-age contest known as “the greatest two minutes in sport”. They would say that, wouldn’t they?
This $500,00 race was called the John F. Feehan (after the original Moonee Valley Farm-owner) Stakes between 1948 and 2005; then they re-named it after the richest man in Malaysia. Mr Dato just happens to be the owner of Viewed, which picked up a lazy $5 million in prizemoney for winning last year’s big Cup. This must have been a godsend to his family finances but I bet he can’t run a farm as good as Johnny Feehan did.
It’s a Group 2 wfa over the metric mile (1600 metres or eight furlongs). The course was as hard as nails despite its rating of Dead 4 with the Penetrometer supposedly reading 4.74. It was hot and windy. The rail was in the true position.
The next race meeting at this course is the $500,000 Group 1 Manikato Stakes (under lights on Friday night) on September 25.
If I may tug your coat for just a moment, I would like to point out that your correspondent in Crikey last week picked Whobegotyou as his nap (best bet) to win this race. But don’t get your hopes up. TP Maher’s turf accountant assures him that his ever-declining bank balance is the only testament to his ability to pick winners. “If you purchased a ton of gold bullion at $1000 an ounce,” she warned recently “you would quickly drive the international gold price into the doldrums once word got out.”
Despite his name, Whobegotyou definitely knows who his parents are. The four-year-old chestnut gelding (he’s been snipped) has a good Irishman in Street Cry for his father and a lovely, patient Japanese lady called Temple of Peace as his mother. Her dad was another Irish stallion called Carnegie; so we know we are all singing from the same hymn book. He is also a half-brother to Takeover Target.
Even the lucky man who owns him, Laurence Eales, has Irish roots (well, he has a son called Liam). He lives in Sunbury and owns EA Hire — the biggest excavating and heavy-equipment hire business in Australia. Eales got Whobegotyou as a yearling colt at the Inglis Classic sale in Sydney for $19,500 after he was passed in.
Then, Eales read about Mark Kavanagh, a trainer from Adelaide, who had opened a stable at Flemington and the rest is history. Well, except for Whobegotyou’s crown jewels, which were burgled by Eales before he realised what a great entire horse he could turn out to be.
And the RSPCA reckons that hitting a horse a few times with a padded stick is cruel. If having your entire cojones cut off with a pair of rusty tin-snips isn’t cruelty to animals then I don’t know what is. Spare me the thought, please, while I cross my legs!
“Don’t ask about the name,” Eales has said. “It’s between me and a mate in North Queensland. I’ll bring him down for the races one day and we’ll let people know. I can tell you it’s got nothing to do with questioning the horse’s parentage. Or anyone’s parentage. I used to have Whobegotyou written under the bug catcher on a truck I drove up in north Queensland and people were always asking me what it meant.”
The little people have big issues to deal with. The No.1 issue is the horses don’t seem to like the hoops because they are mean and cruel to them with their Mr Whippys. In a fit of pique, the two short-priced favourites at the Valley in Saturday’s feature both chucked hissy fits before the big race.
First, Mic Mac chucked Danny Nikolic off his back when he caught him not concentrating enough going to the barriers. Then, Whobegotyou (wearing blinkers for the first time) kicked off his front left shoe to show Damien Oliver who was in charge. Oliver was reprimanded the previous week for over-zealous use of his persuader and so led the vertically-challenged lads and lassies out on strike to show who were the real bosses on and off the course.
There is no such thing as “smart money” at a racecourse. By definition, “smart money” stays away from a racecourse and nestles safely under your mattress where it is kept warm and secure.
By definition, punting is about adapting historical analysis of the form, weights and measures of the horses in a particular race; then assessing the odds on offer (the market price) and taking a punt. It is even more delusional than a sharemarket in boom — but just as deadly. Trust me; I’ve been there!
Yes, your man got the trifecta. But just like sex; it doesn’t always turn out to be as good as you imagined it to be. Your man paid $60 to Mr Tabcorp for a boxed trifecta with five runners (60 combinations), which, with diminishing returns, gave him the paltry sum of $35.80 with which to house and feed his many children for another week
TP is planning to go to the Underwood Stakes at Caulfield next week but he hasn’t a clue what to plonk his copper’s wallet on. A perfect tipping record should remain that way for a long time, so I will not even hazard a guess.
If this donkeys’ (sorry, jockeys’) strike goes on, he will obviously save a truckload of money. But then, how’s he ever going to get back the millions that his family has spent lining the trouser pockets of the evil bagmen for the past 161 years?