Barrier scratchings should always be suspect at metropolitan tracks

The betting on the Caufield Cup should be closely examined. I once laid a bet on a horse called Tell William. He was a 100 to one chance at Caufield – his first race. His trainer Colin Little was sure he had a chance although I was the only one to back him. I laid $300 down minutes before the race began. He still hadn’t entered the barrier. After I laid the money I watched the trainer call a cohort who rushed away. Within a minute Tell William was scratched for poor behaviour at the barrier. I had broken him in and he was perfect at his barrier trials. He was calm and would enter a float without a thought. He was owned by another member of my family. He went on to win several races in town and country.

Of course all the proceedings leading up to a race start (and after) are observed by stewards. But a nod or a glance can be of huge significance as barrier staff carry out their tasks expeditiously.

I once sat beside Colin Hayes in the owners’ seats at Caufield. I overhead the conversation with an owner. “You never know what’s happening around the back straight. The bastards could be doing anything.”

And you don’t know. During winter in Melbourne the same horses go around each week and so everyone knows the abilities of all horses under all conditions. It only takes some quick dialogue (and offers) by knowledgeable riders in the back straight to bring about the required result.

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