• Bob Brogan
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2 years 9 months ago

by Gary Lemke, supplied by GGGaming.bet

Anyone who spends time in racing will become a graduate of the School of Hard Knocks. That is true on whatever level you are involved – be it punter, groom, trainer, jockey or owner. But, one thing that the industry teaches you is to be resilient.
There is no such thing as a racing certainty and although we are all surrounded by experts – Iegends in their own lunchtimes – it’s the good times that keep us coming back for more. Champion trainer Justin Snaith has often said that jockeys have a knack of creating millionaires out of billionaires, and I’ve often been asked who is the most reliable source of “form” in a stable.
I don’t know, but often trainers get it wrong. There’s that expression that they have “come with the wrong one” in a race, rating to when a lesser fancied of stable runners in a race win at bigger odds. Truly, I think that the horses catch the trainers out.
What about the jockeys? Snaith’s view is tongue in cheek but I’m not convinced jockeys make good tipsters. What is undeniable is that they are the most influential people involved in a race. They have the “ability” to ruin a race by getting trapped wide, getting boxed in, mis-time a finish, and so on. But, they can also get it right and there’s no doubt that the best jockeys can give a horse a few lengths advantage just by being oin the saddle.
The work riders are probably the best source of information, because they get to sit on top of a stable’s horses most days of the week. And don’t discount the grooms. Before the 2010 J&B Met when I was busy writing the book on Pocket Power, I asked the famous horse’s groom how he thought his runner would do in the race that Saturday.
“Maybe win, definitely run a place,” he replied. “What of River Jetez”, the second of Mike Bass’s three runners in that race, I asked. “Maybe win, definitely run a place,” he replied. Um, ok. “What of Fort Vogue”, the third of Bass’s three runners and a 33-1 outsider, I asked. “Maybe win, definitely run a place.”
Now it dawned. OK, he’s got to say the right things to anyone who asks. 10 out of 10 for following the script and giving nothing away. So, I asked him again. “How close will it be between Pocket Power and Fort Vogue?” He held up his two index fingers and moved them in opposite directions. “Close?” I asked. “Yes,” came the reply. “And River Jetez and Pocket Power?” He answered the same way.
Brilliantly professional, I thought. He’d given nothing away. Still, I floated the three Bass-trained runners in the quartet and took the field with them, while I had an outright punt on Pocket Power, who had won the previous three Mets in a row.
That Saturday came and River Jetez upset the applecart, hitting the front early and holding off Mike de Kock’s charging Mother Russia. Pocket Power ran on from the back to finish third, marginally in front of … yes, Fort Vogue. Incredibly, Bass’s runners had finished 1-3-4 in the Met. The quartet paid R18 000. The groom was right and next time I saw him I thanked him in the best way I could. He smiled and wagged his finger, “I told you!”
But that’s what brings racing together. There are always hard luck stories and there are always winners and losers. No one stays on top forever and every day is a new day, as much as it sounds like a cliche. However, what I do believe in is riding the luck. So, probably the best advice is to have a look at the percentages of winners that a jockey rides and that a trainer is producing. Follow them when the winners are coming easily and don’t be scared to look elsewhere when they are not in form. Because by balancing the two is where you’re going to find the winners.
This Saturday’s meeting at Durbanville is one where I’m suggesting an all to come treble with the Snaith-trained Poltergeist and Navy Strength in races one and eight, and the Candice Bass-Robinson-trained Charlie Squadron in the fourth race. That treble is 10-1.

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