Last Saturday of a memorable racing season with black type races of varying standards everywhere but Brisbane to decipher.
The way the Lighthouse sees it, how well a country is going can be measured by the quality of nicknames its frontline sportspeople carry. And right now, I reckon Australia is on the edge of the precipice.
Take AFL. In bygone days colourful characters like Dustin Martin and Dane Swan, would never have carried pathetic non-nicknames like Dusty and Swanny. Then there’s Nic Nat, Pendles, The Bont, Paddy. Seriously, a sport that produced legends like “Plugger” Lockett, “Wow” Jones, “Stiffy” Johncock and the Galloping Gasometer etc has fallen to this.
And what about jockeys. Turf identities frequently own a lively history that deserves to be recognised with an apposite nickname. Yet our leading jockeys can seemingly do no better than hopelessly bland monickers like Ollie or Willo or JMac. It’s unAustralian I say.
What happened to Australian creativity and ingenuity? The names that tell you something about a jockey’s life or personality? Something the punting public can grab hold of and identify with. Where are the Shaggers, the Showbags, the Ferrets, the Killas?
Now, I realize that much of the hoop’s best work is probably done in the closed confines of the jockeys room. Some memorable sobriquets (good word that!) undoubtedly lurk there and perhaps some are best to remain undiscovered.
Matthew “Max” Allen rode for us on numerous occasions. I noticed after a while other jockeys kept calling him Hollywood, because, as it turned out, he was Ollie’s stunt double in the film The Cup. We need to see more of this.
All is not lost though. Jockeys like “Stubby” Holder, “Hippo” Hieronimus, “Tiddly” Winks and “Shooter” McGruddy give us a creative base to work from. Even “Froggy” Newitt and “Turkey Legs” Jackson are lengths better than “Ollie”.
I think we have two options. Either some of these change room nicknames are brought into the public domain or the jockeys association should go to any country pub and grab a list of names from the footy tipping board. Then allocate those names – “Skull” Oliver, “Wacker” Williams, “Nugget” Bowman, “Potty” MacDonald, “Scratcha” Pike – to any senior jockey who can’t demonstrate they have a proper nickname. You know it makes sense.
And if I’m being harsh and overlooked some crackers, by all means let me know in the comments section or @Lighthouse_Says on Twitter.
CHIEF DE BEERS
The remarkable Chief De Beers recently passed away at Living Legends, his home in Victoria for the past 8 years.
The 28yo Chief was a champion Queensland sprinter of the 1990’s, with 20 wins and 17 places from 51 starts, including 2 Doomben 10000 victories.
Uniquely, every one of his 20 wins came at Doomben. He was placed at Group 1 level at Eagle Farm and at Group 2 level at Caulfield, but just wasn’t the same horse elsewhere.
Strangely, in spite of his freakish Doomben record, he was trained over the road at Eagle Farm for the duration of his career.
Upon retirement the Chief was donated to the Queensland Police Force, where he enjoyed a long and illustrious career culminating in his appointment as the Governor’s horse, before heading south to continue his life of service at Living Legends in 2012. Fondly remembered.
CRAFTY CRUISER RETIRES PREMATURELY
While I don’t want to mention him every time I write, hasn’t Bryce Stanaway enjoyed a renaissance since the Lighthouse got behind him.
His 17 runners in the last fortnight, included another winner when Ventura Highway unexpectedly broke an 82 start drought at Royal Donald. The punters knew too – he was one of only two of Bryce’s 17 to start at under 40/1.
However, it’s not all sunshine and roses at Chateaux Stanaway, as one of Australian racing’s greatest ever warriors Crafty Cruiser is about to be forced into premature retirement by another nanny state racing rule – that horses must retire at age 12 or after 160 starts, whichever comes first.
Today at Swan Hill, Bryce was set to squeeze one last drop of juice out of the old boy, but as I write I see he has scratched his three runners from the race simultaneously – perhaps another issue with the sandwiches in the trainer’s room? Crafty retires with 392km on the clock – astonishing for a horse that has never jumped.
THE EXCITABLE DENIS PAGAN
Legendary AFL coach Denis Pagan has, as many would know, recently turned his hand to training racehorses.
He’s made a flying start too, with a listed placing at Flemington with his first runner and his fourth runner delivering his first winner when Frankie Two Angels saluted at Sandown on Wednesday.
I’d expected that his maiden triumph would have left Denis a tad jubilant, but I was wrong. When Racing.com crossed for the post race chat, I initially thought they were interviewing legendary NRL grumblebum Wayne Bennett. Denis carried the demeanour of a man who was facing the media after having coached Carlton to a 15 goal loss to Essendon and gave the unfortunate interviewer next to nothing!
Frisky Dave delivered again with a win and two of the closest seconds you will ever see from his three tips last time. Only the judge thought that Miss Iano hadn’t at least dead heated.
Caulfield R8 Mahamadeis($3.70)
Morphettville R4 Beer Mint($7)
Morphettville R6 Analytica($6.50)
Frisky likes his AFL too and reckons that Hawthorn/Sydney is a moral to finish under the 112.5 line this weekend.
Seeking redemption this week with:
R3 Our Campana($3.20) Everything in its favour
R5 Modear($8) If track is giving backmarkers a chance
R7 Viridine($3) Firmer track, extra distance
R8 Mahamadeis($3.70) Sorry Frisky, weighted certainty
R9 Savvy Lad($18) Melbourne Best Value
R3 Group Think($7) Down a notch here
R5 Rezealient($15) Finally getting back near his best
R6 Papal Warrior($11)/Rothenburg($11)
R2 Hasta La Fiorente($4.50) Ideal race
R7 Tough race but Knowles($11) will win one soon
R4 Elixir($3.80) In rare form
R7 Starla($7) Thriving in Brisbane
R7 Cup Night($4.50) Been waiting months for this bloke to return