Race one at Toowoomba yesterday, a 3-year-old Maiden Plate run over the unusual distance of 870 metres, was one of the strangest races I have seen for quite a while, a really, really queer one.
There were four horses in the betting.
The topweight Calculated Risk, trained by Craig Smith at Roma, was steady in the market at $5.50, as was Boof Currie’s runner Persian King, which started at $6.50.
Tony and Maddysen Sears first-starter Serratalli blew like a gale, from an opening quote of around $3.50 all the way out to $8.50 by the jump.
All the money came for the debutante Crosby Road. It was backed as if there was no tomorrow, firming from a top price of $2.40 into $1.75, or 6-4 on in the old scale.
The plunge punters obviously didn’t know that just prior to the race, Crosby Road’s trainer Shaun Dwyer Jr had approached the Stewards and told them that he’d noticed his horse had some unexpected swelling on its off-side rump.
There could be any number of explanations for swelling in such a spot. One of them is that a nobbler had hit the fave with a go-slow to stop it from winning, for the off-side rump is where you’d be likely to give a horse an intra-muscular injection if it was tied up and you wanted to hit and quickly run.
The on-course vet Dr Gemma Silvestri of the QRIC inspected the horse and cleared it to start. As most pre-race vet examinations ultimately prove to be, it wasn’t a particularly brilliant decision.
Crosby Road led until the top of the straight in the short course scamper, and then punctured like a pricked balloon. Another inspection by Dr Silvestri found no obvious abnormalities, other than that the horse was displaying a particularly poor post-rate recovery rate.
I would have thought that if a horse was sweating like a pig and puffing like a chimney after running at 3/4 speed for just 500 metres, then that in itself would be an anomaly, but I’m not a vet, just a horse owner and lover, so what would I know?
Baylee Nothdurft got stuck out wide on Currie’s horse and couldn’t get in. No jockey in Toowoomba is going to let a cheeky little local kid who’s gone to the big smoke and is killing them get in from barrier ten over 870 metres. Anyone who backed it was mad.
In-form city jockey Matthew McGillivray gave the toppie the perfect run, sitting fifth just off the pace on the rail behind the leader, and as top riders do pulled it out at the top of the straight and went bang, and it won.
The run of the odds-on favourite was really odd, but the ride on the horse that nobody wanted to back Serratalli was even more strange.
That filly jumped with them from barrier 6, but her rider Michael Cahill seemed to immediately put on the brakes after they’d gone just 20 metres, and jagged the $3.50 to $8.50 shot out to last.
Cahill was later to tell the Stewards that Serratalli failed to muster speed early, and they duly accepted his explanation, but gee, I’m not so sure. It looked to me as if Cahill just decided not to show any urgency, and took her back to last himself; but I’m not a jockey just a long-time form student and race analyst, so what would I know?
The same applies to my opinion that Michael Cahill was forgetful when he told the Stewards that he had some difficulty securing clear running rounding the home turn, and in the early stages of the home straight.
What Cahill forgot to add was that he couldn’t get any clear running because he kept steering the filly inside and up other horse’s arses, rather than taking her to the middle or outside of the track where there was clear running room; or that by doing so he ensured that Serratalli had a chequered, stop-start run that prevented the young galloper from gaining any uninterrupted momentum.
Brisbane’s top-ten jockey wasn’t wrong when he added that the filly ran home well when she got clear running, it was just a shame that this didn’t happen until about 70 metres from the line when she was still a couple of lengths off them, and a million to one.
The race day Steward – with ten more races to run on the program, and no overtime for late finishes in the budget – were clearly too busy to waste any time examining the betting sheets on a 3YO maiden, and let the matter rest.
I’m not a Steward, just a punter and member of the public who is fast losing confidence in the integrity of Queensland racing, so what would I know?
But gee that race looked red-hot to me.
Take a look for yourself, and see what you reckon.