Have we lost some of the theatre of racing?

This was one of the weighty matters that your fearless members of the fourth estate discussed in the press box on Saturday, June 8.

Remember the days when feature races had the horses parade on track, starting at the winning post and moving towards the 200m mark, with commentary given on each of the contenders.

They would then peel off, after the last horse had been mentioned, and do a preliminary gallop, or canter, coming back past the winning post en route to the barrier.

Also gone is the siren to signify correct weight after a race and the announcement, “weight is right, pay tote.” This was part of the theatre of racing and provided a service to punters, wherever they happened to be on the course, that the stewards had signed off that all was well with that race.

Likewise the presentations, to winning connections, deserve to be both seen and heard. Sure, we get hot weather and even occasionally rain in winter, which sometimes makes it difficult to hold the ceremony on the grass. But let’s make it the rare exception not the rule.

Frankly, if I had a horse that won the Perth Cup on the hottest January day on record I would still want to be in the centre of the saddling enclosure.

Come to think of it I would want it to be over 3200m too – and that personal wish also got a favourable run in press box, from others, in discussions last Saturday.

Food is always a topic close to our hearts and the catering choices have clearly dropped off from this time last year.

I don’t know what happened to the tasty mini-sausage rolls, of yesteryear, but it is time they made a comeback.

Ernie Manning, who has been a racing writer from Noah’s time made a welcome cameo appearance in the box on Saturday and it was not long after that we started to discuss the sex life of 91 year old males.

I am not sure how we got on to this riveting subject but it may have had something to do with the fact that Ernie and Bill Bovington have been in the press box that long. Also, we never shy away from the stiff sociological problems confronting the world and Oz society.

With most issues we solve the problems between races. However, this subject was a bit harder to solve.

If I get to that advanced age I will be concentrating on breathing rather than being concerned about what some external appendage is doing.

The move to have a steward up the top of the grandstand, next to the broadcasting box has had some success. The move was made to control Macca. He gets bored after calling a race so between races he comes down from the Eagles Nest to the Press Box.

Paul Criddle, Harold “Jaapie’ Taylor and Travis Rendell (back from holidays) have been the early ‘Stipes in the Tower’ (makes a change from the famous medieval story about the Princes in the Tower), charged with policing the corridor.

I think Harold’s policy of having a sjambok on hand was particularly effective. A sjambok is a South African whip made of either rhino or hippo hide and it needs something like that to deal with Macca’s colossal hide!

Still I must not be too tough on GT. His judgement in tight finishes is matched by his ability to recognise talent. He felt I added colour and pizazz, as a backdrop, to the Wes Cameron interview with Paul Jordan.

There are two rejoinders to that comment. First, not so long ago I couldn’t get into the picture with those two but Paul is now only half the man he once was. In fact I think PJ is back in training to gain another world power lifting title.

Actually ‘River’s’ win with Flag Officer was a case of television’s two Ronnies being replaced by racing’s two Pauls.

It was the 100th time Jordan and part owner, Paul Van Loenhout had been associated with a winner. Maybe it is time to start a new tradition with century club owners and trainers waving a halter to the crowd! (Sorry, that was an appaulling suggestion –apologies about the spelling too)

Maybe we could just put a Scold’s Bridle on PJ–Wes would  certainly like that.

The second reply to Macca is simple: when a man wears the cardinal red and the blue, including the official tie of the West Perth Football Club, he value adds in any company!

Linton’s Stradbroke win an absolute cracker

And speaking of classy things: what about that wonderful near-white beastie, Linton, winning the Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) at Eagle Farm?

You would not have backed him with counterfeit money on the home turn where he was last after being third last for the rest of the journey.

He looked to have as much chance catching the field as his human namesake, Victor Linton Humann would. In fact at that stage I thought the grey was travelling slower than our doyen of strappers walks in the saddling enclosure!

Linton never left the rails and after the opposition presented a ‘corridor of opportunity along the fence,’ like some Biblical parting of the Red Sea, the grey simply mowed the field down giving him a hat trick of wins.

A million dollar plus earner before the Stradbroke the galloper took home another million in first prize money for his connections. A nice afternoon’s work for Linton and jockey Nick Hall and their enjoyment was well captured by the Sunday Times picture (p63).

Trainer John Sadler’s judgement in setting his charge for the Stradbroke was vindicated The grey was a $26 chance as his previous two wins, in Adelaide, were clearly not Group 1 standard.

Runner-up Buffering, attempting to claim a first Group 1, at his 16th   attempt, looked to have finally cracked it 100m from home but was no match for Linton’s withering finish.

A successful stayer earlier in his career Linton is obviously a versatile type and Sadler is now contemplating a tilt at the Cox Plate with him.

Sadler said last year Linton had raced in the VRC Spring campaign, over a distance, weighing 465kg as opposed to 510kg in the Stradbroke.

Doubles all round

Closer to home doubles to Fred Kersley and Neville Parnham, and riders Steven Parnham and Mitchell Pateman, were the features of the program on June 8.

The metropolitan trainers premiership is brewing into a good contest between Adam Durrant and Parnham.

Durrant won the first race with Bizet (Ben Paterson) and advanced to 44. But by the end of the day Parnham’s win with Black Magic Miss (Steven Parnham) and Dominating (Brad Parnham) saw him move to 42.5, and in the process having a good family day out.

On the jockey and apprentice lists, William Pike and Ben Paterson, respectively, look reasonably safe although apprentice Mitchell Pateman, now second, has been in good touch after coming back successfully from a long absence from a knee injury. He rode a double at Belmont and moved passed Chris Parnham.

Paterson on 24 leads Pateman on 17.5 with Chris Parnham 16.5 next best.  

The season concludes on July 31.