Horses behaving badly
For most punters on the recent weekend, all eyes would’ve been glued to the telly watching the big Group 1 Blue Diamond Day at Caulfield.
For sure, there was some great racing action, but it was also a day of drama, but what would a top race day be without some form of drama?
Well we got it, and it was most certainly a surprise to punters, pundits, commentators, but probably more of a shock to trainer James Cummings and jockey Craig Williams.
Of course we are talking about the talented Godolphin galloper Best Of Days who botched the start in the Group 1 Futurity Stakes, in a manner akin to the Grey Flash Chautauqua
What happened to Best Of Days!? pic.twitter.com/WVCq73qp8j
— 7HorseRacing 🐎 (@7horseracing) February 23, 2019
By the time Williams had him out of the gate, his race was already run, the rest of the field flying from the 1400m gate and making their way to the first corner before you knew it.
The most annoying thing for punters was the fact that the TAB declared Best Of Days as a valid runner, and did not late scratch him, meaning all bets on him remained valid and active, rather than being voided if scratched.
I wonder how much money was lost on the various betting agencies around the country? The bookies got a free ride for sure.
Best Of Days was a clear third favourite at 8/1, only the winner Alizee (7 /4) and Land Of Plenty (6/1) were ahead of him on the market; so a lot of money had been invested on the five year old.
Reports from this morning (Monday morning) out of the Godolphin camp is that the horse will need to undergo a barrier trial/jumpout and only be allowed to race subject to Stewards approval.
Trainer James Cummings has been reported as saying that should Best Of Days get through his trial (which is expected to be either at Flemington or Sandown later this week), he will go into the Group 2 Blamey Stakes this weekend, more like a consolation prize.
It’s not often we see top racehorses pull stunts like that on Australian racecourses on race day.
Of course everyone will remember the barrier trial antics of Chautauqua, who was sensationally scratched pre-race at Moonee Valley on Manikato Stakes Night back in 2017, though his absence was actually bought about by a vet inspection, though there appeared to be nothing wrong with the horse.
But since then, the Grey sprinting star was undone by several poor jumpouts which did not satisfy Stewards, leading to his eventual demise after an eighth attempt to get him to comply, at a specially arranged jumpout at Moonee Valley nearly a year later which was televised, much to the dismay of all when he remained in the stalls.
Chautauqua’s tardy manners were also comparable to Hong Kong cult sensation Pakistan Star who also displayed less than impressive barrier manners, and in one race with Joao Moreira on board, he completed ground to a stop not long after the start.
Despite his quirky behaviour, Pakistan Star remains a crowd favourite, but also remains a galloping mystery, combining Group 1 victories amid enigmatic race day behaviour.
Imported French stayer Auvray, who is part of Chris Waller’s Sydney team and who raced in last years Melbourne Cup is another that was prone to bad manners at the barriers. I believe his pre-race antics have now improved substantially, but still, now that we know about his past, we’ll all be keeping an eye on him when he lines up next.
This time last year, Victorian galloper So Si Bon was another horse behaving badly, earning a reputation as a serial biter of other horses, and even (according to jockey Craig Williams) an attempt at nipping at the top Melbourne jockey. This proved to be the horses swansong as a well bred stallion; the owners finally deciding to send him off to be gelded.
By all accounts his behaviour has improved, and he even won a race for the first time in ages just recently for just his second career win. There is obviously a method to the madness, but whether he can secure a wildcard entry to the All Star Mile (as the Hayes, Hayes, Dabernig camp are indicating), remains to be seen.
From my perspective, I think horse racing in Australia would be far less colourful without the antics of some of these horses.
So long as no punting money is lost as a result (unlike the Best Of Days incident as mentioned above) then most of us can take it on the chin.
Sure, the behaviour of some race horses might be in contravention of racing’s laws and safety provisions, but knowing Australian punters, having a sly chuckle at the equine equivalent of bad boy behaviour is par for the course in Australian sport.
We only need to look elsewhere across the nations sporting landscape to check for other examples in other codes. I’ll just mention a few names, you’ll get the picture:
Nick Kyrgios, Bernard Tomic, David Warner, Steve Smith, Cameron Bancroft, Anthony Mundine, Andrew Gaff, Ben Barba, Jack De Belin, Jarryd Hayne, Kurtley Beale, Karmichael Hunt.
And in our beloved racing code, who can forget names such as Danny Nikolic, and only just recently – Darren Weir..
Need I say any more?