Big news everybody….the Mosstrooper Awards have been decided and presented …although you’d never learn it from RVL’s website – or almost anywhere else. What’s wrong fellas? Not ashamed of jumps racing, are we?
Buried in The Age this week was news that their racing journalist Michael Lynch has won the media prize at the Australian Jumps Racing Association’s Mosstrooper Awards. We wrote recently about these awards – in fact if you Google ‘Mosstrooper Awards’ you’ll come up with notice of the pending Awards event on 25th September plus two links to Thrillsnspills. Apparently the racing industry doesn’t even want to talk about it….not that we blame them! But we want to talk about them!
In that piece we wrote, “MRC Jumping Media Story of the Year Award: Doesn’t matter – just another award to be shared around so that racing journalists keep writing nice things about jumps racing. We suspect that Patrick Smith won’t be considered.”
Guess what? Patrick Smith didn’t win – again – (actually in 2010 his pro-jumps colleague Brendan Cormick won this award…..more about him later). Anyway, let’s take a look at one of the Lynch offerings:
“Go jump: keep the horses on course.” The Age May 4th 2011.
Fergus McIver crashes at Sandown…and dies. We admit that he was well cared for whilst alive, and yes, his squillionaire owner probably spent more than $30,000 on him (real economic benefits)……however he didn’t deserve to suffer like this. Foaled in Ireland on 10th February 2006, he wasn’t even six years old. Bad Luck Fergus, but you went spectacularly!
Our Chateau escaped fatal injuries in this fall near the end of the season. Just two days earlier he’d chased home champion Black and Bent in the Houlahan Hurdle at Sandown. His jumps career had started on 6th July when he ran second. A fortnight later he won a six-horse hurdle at Pakenham, beating the likes of Echelon, Downes and Gothic Crown. That apparently fitted him to run against Black and Bent in a $100,000 hurdle. He meritoriously finished second and then two days later was sent out in this $15,000 hurdle at Pakenham. Stewards noted: “When making a number of the obstacles throughout the race Our Chateau shifted out. Our Chateau failed to make the final the obstacle cleanly and fell. A subsequent veterinary examination of Our Chateau (NZ) revealed the gelding to be moderately lame in the near hind leg.” Anyway, not to be daunted, the horse was sent out again 25 days later and finished 4th in a pissy $15,000 event….even finishing adrift of Jockey Jack, which after three jumps races has registered one third placing. Could it be that he had a sore neck?
The ‘wastage’: an ignominious final act – hidden behind a screen: Oakbank 2011. Java Star, winner of his first jumps race at Hamilton on April 17th – dead six days later, after falling at the final jump at Oakbank. He was whipped just prior to the jump. Apparently we should be prepared to accept such ‘wastage’. Would the same apply for his jockey?
Above, Morsonique: The Grand National Steeplechase winner in 2010 fell twice during the 2011 season. In his 102nd race (that’s a lot Michael – how many of those Irish horses get to 102 starts?) – he crashed at Sandown, and did so again at Warrnambool nine weeks later. Luckily he escaped death, however he didn’t win a single race in the season. Yes, we think this is wrong. Michael Lynch thinks it acceptable. His readers seem to agree with us, and we suspect that there are not many working at The Age who will agree with him either.
It seems we’re not the only people that think that the sport which excites Michael, Rodney and Naff Naff stinks! As the former SAJC executive Steven Ploubidis said recently:
“….. banning the sport would be popular among most trainers in the state, who felt flats racing was subsidising the jumps competitors, most of whom came from interstate.
“The argument is weak. Flat racing would not miss jumps racing. It’s not popular with the public or the punter,” Mr Ploubidis said.
“Not popular with the public”, huh? Well how about that!
The two half-brothers – both winners of the Crisp Steeplechase….
Spectacular, huh? The half-brothers: Geeorb (Left) falls and is fatally injured on 25th July 2009, and at Right: Juan Carlos falls 28th August 2011. Both sons of Encosta de Lago, Juan Carlos was foaled 27th August 2000, and Geeorb twenty days later.
Can a sporting activity get any more spectacular than this? Spills and Thrills…..yep, the spills cause the crowd to ooh and aarh. They love it. Even the horses love it…you can just tell…ask Dr Naff Naff…..can’t you see the smiles on their faces as they attack the jumps.
Jumps racing….you’ve gotta love it. Funny, but we’ve never seen photos like this on RVL’s website. Wonder why? Isn’t this part of the” rich heritage”?
Justification 1: It is an essential part of the racing calendar:
Twenty-four jumps races were held during 2011 that’s four jumps races less than 2010.
Ten horses fell, an increase of 25%. Four horses were killed in races: up 33%
(These 24 races required the deaths of five horses! Hammerblow (in training), Java Star, Ledger’s Dream, Fasilenko and Guara Grove Beast…all killed.) Here’s a photo to show the spills and the accompanying thrills of jumps racing:
Photo Credit: CPR – SA
Guara Grove Beast lies fatally injured on the track at Morphettville, John MJ O’Connor’s second dead horse for the year.
The eight-year-old gelding had been unable to complete the 4500m Grand National Steeplechase at Sandown just six days earlier.
His rider allowed him to avoid the final jump that day, and he was found to have a laceration on his leg after the race.
Six days later, he had been trucked to Morphettville to attempt another steeplechase……and duly lost his life. Spectacular stuff!
So what? Who cares?
Justification: It pumps money into the local economy.
In the 2011 season, South Australian jumps racing offered $942,000 in prizemoney. Guess how much the Victorians took home – yep, 75%…more than $700,000!
In South Australia this year, twenty-three trainers are shown to have one or more jumps horses. Six of them didn’t enter a horse in a South Australian jumps race (No, we can’t imagine why). That leaves seventeen.
Of those seventeen, nine entered one solitary horse. (Yeah, you can already see what a monster sport this is in SA). That leaves eight.
Colin Stewart entered two – and won nothing as far as we can see. Rexie Modra also entered two, and won a pissy $5,750, but then he did provide the wonderful Ledger’s Dream, killed at Morphettville on May 14th. That leaves six.
Don Irlam and John (MJ) O’Connor (JMJC trained Fasilenko, killed at Mt Gambier and Guara Grove Beast, killed at Morphettville) entered three each. That leaves four.
Now for the big jumps trainers: Jim Smith, Karen Byrnes and Kevin & Heather Frew had four each. As far as we can see, Smith earned nowt. Byrnes earned nowt, and the Frews earned nowt. Champions!
That leaves one.
Drum roll please: The redoubtable John A O’Connor (the man we believe should have won one of the Mosstrooper Awards) trained twelve jumps horses during the season….including the incredible Rommel’s Gold…….and won the staggering sum of $65,900! Unbelievable….
If our chart is correct, then fifteen of the twenty-five jumps trainers failed to win a bean! If we’re wrong, then please tell – after all, we’re trying to learn to love jumps racing like you do.
Wow! This surely proves that jumps racing is essential in South Australia.
AJRA Jumping Achievement of the Year Award
- Eric Musgrove: for his massive contribution through the number of horses nominated, including the champions Zealous, Fergus McIver and Java Star…..err….hang on….there might be a problem with those three……
- MRC executive Alasdair Robertson for comments made at Sandown when observing an ABC reporter asking hard questions of the Racing Minister. Mr Robertson made the point that he would prefer that his children be a hitman or a prostitute than become a reporter like Ms Taylor. His apology appeared in various media of the next few days.
- Rex Modra and John O’Connor in Adelaide – for turning up race after race with their horses, and winning bugger all. Congratulations gentlemen. (Still, most of the money offered for prizemoney went to Victoria anyway).
- John Dunn, for producing the wonderful Roll on Bert. Bertie Beetle is a champion’s champion…..in the same league as Rusky Ya Ya and Chopper on Ice…. (where do they get these silly names?)
Warrnambool RC Provincial Jumping Achievement of the Year Award:
- Banna Strand – for promoting jumps racing throughout the world.
- Casa Boy, Shine the Armour, and Zealous for maintaining Warrnambool as the most proficient killing field in Australian jumps racing.
- Provincial based Racing Minister Denis Napthine for his brilliant comment during the season that some horses see a jump, smile and attack it! Beautiful work, Minister!
MRC Jumping Media Story of the Year Award: Doesn’t matter – just another award to be shared around so that racing journalists keep writing nice things about jumps racing. We suspect that Patrick Smith won’t be considered.
Moe RC Jumping Photo of the Year Award – No real explanation required……
The Moe meeting scheduled for July 16th was moved to Pakenham, and Stewards reported:
At the tenth hurdle near the 600 metres on the final lap, Scouting made a faulty jump and as a result fell and dislodged its rider, T Wells. Scouting galloped riderless for the remainder of the race until after the winning post where it attempted to jump the outside running rail and as a result fell and was severely winded. Scouting underwent a veterinary examination which revealed the gelding had deep tissue bruising to the off shoulder and stifle, and an abrasion above its right eye. Scouting also had blood out of one nostril. As the bleed was sustained due to trauma Scouting was not deemed a bleeder under the rules.
Surely, no other explanation is required?
TVN Jumping Race of the Year Award:
- The Thackeray Steeplechase at Warrnambool on 31st July, during which only six of the twelve starters could finish. Three fell – two lost riders – one was brought down. Zealous was killed. The race had it all! Bottle that!
- The Grand Annual at Warrnambool: Eight starters, two finishers – a horse jumped into the crowd…..again, the race had it all!
TRSA Leslie Short SA Jumping Achievement of the Year Award: Two nominations
- John A O’Connor: for his immaculate preparation and presentation of Rommel’s Gold. The horse won a one-horse trial at Morphettville on July 18th and then came a 25 lengths 2nd in a two-horse trial at Gawler on 22nd August. (We’re not making this up!) In actual races, the horse failed to finish at his three jumps races prior to his magnificent 8th placing in a field of 9 (actually, the ninth horse, Zabrock, failed to finish, so RG actually came last) only eighteen lengths from the winner. We presume that means his form-line reads FTF – FTF –FTF – Last….a worthy nominee!
- Kenwick: maiden jumper which was permitted to start in the Great Eastern Steeplechase, and promptly fell and was then run over by Rude ‘n Abrupt. Spectacular stuff….
Kenwick centre can’t even get off the ground at this fence during this year’s Great Eastern Steeplechase.
He fell and was run over by the grey Rude ‘n Abrupt.
Fasilenko (right) was killed in a Mt Gambier steeplechase just six weeks later. The horses love it!
JJ Houlahan Jumping Championship Awards: (Great moments in jumps racing)
- Tarawera: One jumps start where he was beaten by Vindicating, but where his trainer claimed that the horse thought he’d won:
He’d been a long time between runs, we thought it was a really good effort, he just got nailed on the post and I think the horse actually thought he won the race,” Houlahan said.
2. Nitonic: ten year old gelding killed in a jumps trial while being prepared for a jumps career.
3. Fergus McIver: Racing in the Irish 2000 Guineas in May 2009 – killed in a Sandown hurdle August 2011 at only his fourth jumps race – all within 29 days! Bottle that too!
We’ve been informed that people within the show-jumping and eventing activities are reading this site. Excellent, and welcome! We’ve spent most of this season watching and learning, and now we can share with you some of the nuances of jumps racing….as we understand them.
Jumps racing was at Pakenham today, and we found the hurdle that was supposed to be run on September 19th - there you go….we’ve thought Naff Naff and his Merry-Men had removed another jumps race from the program.
The champs were out today for this $40,000 finale to the season. Now you would normally think that for a prize that large you’d get a top field….but nah. Take a look at these factors:
Ten horses ran: only five of them had previously won a jumps race – one each – all minor affairs.
The total number of jumps races they’d contested: thirty two! (Hey, wait a minute, one of them, Boland, had contested nine on his own!) That means that the other nine had contested 22 between them….this was a top shelf field!
The winner Jervois is a newcomer to jumps racing, but has won both hurdles he’s contested. He’ll replace Marked Danger at his stable (MD’s apparently disappeared from racing prior to his actual fourth birthday)
Nine year-old Goldtown, which had won his connections more than a quarter of a million dollars in flat racing finished fifth. His stablemate Boland finished seventh, still winless after ten jumps races inside four months – all in his first year of jumping. We’d ask RVL’s eloquently named ‘Equine Welfare Officer’ if they though this wasn’t a little excessive …..the horse has just turned six…..however we suspect we’d be told that Boland loves jumps racing. Maybe he’s ‘looking for bigger fences’ (that’s shorthand for ‘he can’t win over hurdles so we’ll send him over steeplechase fences’). Still, Boland has fared better than stablemates Zealous, Java Star and poor bloody Fergus McIver (who we notice featured in The Age today).
Boland chases home Our Chateau at Pakenham today. In his first season
of jumps racing this was his tenth jumps race in sixteen weeks.
Then there was Our Chateau, another first-year-hurdler which came in fourth. He was required to carry 69kg today….a significant weight given that he was carrying between 53 and 54 kg in flat races a year ago. It happens to be the same weight Black and Bent carried in the National and the Houlahan. We still find that intriguing..
Still, Our Chateau fell in a trial at Warrnambool, and fell in a race at Pakenham, but we are certain that jumps people will assure us that he loves jumps racing. Now here’s the betting from today:
Betting Investment: Pakenham September 24th 2011
Total: Win, Place, Quinella, First-Four, Exacta, Trifecta
(Quadrella shown extra) Source VicTAB
Betting investment on one jumps race $126,758
Average betting investment on seven flat races $162,909…that’s 28% extra…for six races!
Now take a look at how the brilliant people who run racing scored in attracting betting investment (the industry get’s a percentage, so the more betting they attract, then the more money goes to the industry). What we can see from the table is that for a prize of $12,000 they attracted anywhere from $7.52 to $22.28 for every dollar of prizemoney offered. The jumps race attracted $3.16. Now this is a fairly common occurrence. You might think the executives at RVL might realise this is losing them money…which it is….and yes, they actually do know….that’s what makes it so interesting.
Even the Quaddie was crappy: just $43,983, but then they did stick a jumps race in it, and surely the people who run racing know what to expect when they do that. You might be interested to know that the previous two meetings held at Pakenham were on 28th and 30th August, and the commensurate event (the M J Bourke Hurdle for 2010) was run on May 23rd. Here’s a comparison:
We don’t pretend to know as much as the good people who run racing, but if we ran a business with returns like this we’d have some questions. Still, maybe we’ve got the figures wrong….please tell us if that’s the case.
Just for interest, here are the horses that contested the M J Bourke Hurdle of $40,000 last season, and here’s how they’ve fared in 2011 –
Other than Famous Prince, five horses with about six jumps races between them this year….not a lot, is it?
Welcome to the world of jumps racing. We just love it, and we’re sure you will too…as soon as you understand it.
The Age’s racing journalist Michael Lynch knows a lot more about horseracing than we do, although in our attempts to improve our knowledge we keep reading in order to learn. However, we just keep coming up with more questions. Mr Lynch wrote an article for his newspaper which appeared on the morning of the Grand National Steeplechase. It included the following (abridged):
THE combined age of the 12 gallopers for today’s Grand National Steeplechase at Sandown is 102, or an average of 8½.
That’s not the sole reason to laud jumps racing as a worthy end in itself, something that can prolong the useful life of racehorses past their sell-by date for the flat.
But it is a compelling one to illustrate how the hurdlers and chasers have their place in the racing mix…
And, given the chances jumps racing affords the older horses to shine, it is apposite that one of the favourites today is the oldest galloper in the field, 11-year-old Juan Carlos…..
Michael Lynch. Age not an obstacle in National. The Age 28th August 2011
Juan Carlos is a fine horse, and yes, he is eleven years old. He was foaled in the same year (2000) as Geeorb, another son of Encosta de Largo. Like JC, Geeorb also won the prestigious Crisp Steeplechase; we have more to say about him soon. However there’s a little more to the Juan Carlos story, but first, here’s a photo of his moment of glory a few hours after Mr Lynch’s article appeared:
Another reason to laud jumps racing? Eleven year old Juan Carlos crashed head-first during the Grand National Steeplechase of 2011. Winning Post, the major racing weekly had included a photograph of him on that week’s edition’s front page with the caption, “He’s the best advertisement going around for the retention of jumps racing.” If this is their best advertisement then what does their worst one look like? Remember, this horse is eleven-years old!
Poor old Juan Carlos. The fall was extremely heavy, and stewards reported that, “A post race veterinary examination of Juan Carlos revealed the gelding to be lame…” Yet, and here’s our problem; we can’t help wondering why Mr Lynch didn’t give the old warrior some room in his article “Grand day at the park had it all” printed the following day, Monday 29th August. If Juan Carlos was so worthy of praise as a jumps-racing banner-boy prior to the race, then aren’t we entitled to be a little surprised when he wasn’t even mentioned among details describing the drama emanating from the major steeplechase of the year? Was the horse OK? (We’ll stand corrected if someone shows us that we’re wrong).
In our quest for knowledge we found some additional details that seem to indicate that there’s a little more to the story.
Two weeks prior to the National JC had won the Crisp Steeplechase, following which Stewards reported, “after the running of the race the Club’s veterinary surgeon reported that Juan Carlos had bled from its near side nostril.” Apparently, had he bled from both nostrils he would have been banned from racing for three months. His trainer was advised that a veterinary certificate of fitness and the satisfactory results of an endoscopic examination after a 1000m gallop were required prior to Juan Carlos being permitted to race again. He must have passed those tests, because he fronted for the Grand National Steeplechase two weeks later. In that testing event over 4500m, he fell heavily (see photo), and the horse which had ‘bled’ two weeks earlier was now reported as being lame as well.
Then we were to learn more: On his race record for 2010 (as recorded by RVL), there are two mysterious races where he shows as having been disqualified: a 3050m flat race at Geelong on 19th June, and a 3400m hurdle at Sandown on 7th July. So what happened? Why was JC disqualified? From what we can learn from the internet, it was because following those races he had been found to be carrying traces of an apparently banned substance, something called Ibuprofen, which we believe became evident from post race samples taken from the horse.
Furthermore, when JC won the Pedro’s Pride Steeplechase on July 28th 2010, we learned even more: “Only last November Juan Carlos bowed a tendon racing on the flat but with some revolutionary treatment, which has a patent pending, he has made a remarkably quick recovery.“
So let’s piece together the story of this aged horse’s last two or three seasons: We know of one bowed tendon (Winning Post claims it’s two): he’s been disqualified because he was carrying a banned substance: he’s bled (from one nostril): and finally, he’s crashed. (It’s not suggested the incidents are linked)……and this from a horse which has contested just twelve jumps races! Winning Post suggested he’s the best advertisement going around for the retention of jumps racing (Front Cover August 27th 2011). Wow….if he’s the best advertisement, then what does the worst one look like?
See, here’s the problem: it seems to us that many in the racing media just don’t wish to talk about the downside of jumps racing. The following appeared in The Australian:
When jumper Fergus McIver crashed so dreadfully to his death at Sandown last month, the industry’s broadcaster, TVN, did not mention the death of the horse.
Later in the broadcast, the Victorian Minister for Racing, Denis Napthine, effused about what a great day of jumps racing it had been. Napthine, who represents the jumping heartland of Warrnambool, did not mention the grotesque death of Fergus McIver.
Source: Patrick Smith Racing Victoria was always heading for a fall, given its restrictive media accreditation rules. The Australian 10th-11th September 201
And that’s a constant observation. Race broadcasters often seem to ignore any fatally injured horses on track. An Adelaide racecaller has recently been incensed by protesters filming jumps events from the back of the Morphettville course, and in some races where all horses have finished he’s been heard to say, “Put that on TV tonight’ . When Guara Grove Beast was killed there was no such boast.
Anti-jumps people tell us that they know when a horse is fatally injured because the race- callers often ignore the plight of the stricken animal after the offending incident. It’s almost as if the injured horse doesn’t exist. A decade ago, the AJRA asked racecallers not to mention fallen horses, however so ridiculous was the request that even members of the racing media derided it.
Now to be fair to Mr Lynch, he did mention the death of hurdler Fergus McIver in his article the day following the Grand National Steeplechase , and wrote of the “Triumphs and tragedy, courage and controversy, drama and despair” of the day’s events. We suspect that Fergus was a part of the tragedy, however the fallen eleven-year-old Juan Carlos didn’t rate a mention…..or was he part of the despair? Nine-year-old Pay the Aces also fell heavily, and again without mention: nor did we read that five of the twelve runners failed to be able to finish the 4500m event.
“And, given the chances jumps racing affords the older horses to shine…..” Well, the truth is that poor old Juan Carlos wasn’t shining too brightly that day. Nor was Fergus – for him the lights dimmed permanently, and, looking at the photo above, Juan Carlos wasn’t far from joining him.
“Triumphs and tragedy, courage and controversy, drama and despair” – all brought about using animals which have no choice but to participate in this grim theatre.
And so we say farewell to another magnificent season of jumps racing with the final race confirming the trend. What trend?
The trend that says the pesky Victorians only have to turn up to take home our lollies – and they did so again! However there were triumphs for the SA horses. First, most of the field came from here, although it could be said that they are a truly awful bunch. Even Rommel’s Gold made it to the finish – after failing to finish at each of his past three starts he actually completed this final event, even if many lengths behind. It’s a triumph! The horse loves it.
And Bold Fury finished third. Our best SA horse beat the high-potential Victorian champ Iguazu. (He’s the horse that’s coming back for the Great Eastern Steeplechase next year).
The problem is that the betting investment was again poor. Take a look:
Betting Investment: Morphettville September 17th 2011
Total: Win, Place, Quinella, First-Four, Exacta, Trifecta
(Quadrella shown extra) Source SATAB
So we Croweaters say farewell to jumps racing and our prizemoney. We’ll now tote-up the season’s efforts and actually find out just how much money we sent to Victoria. A big mention for Rex Modra, John O’Connor and the other lads for turning up. But one question: where did they find Zabrock? That is arguably the worst jumps debut we’ve ever seen.