Loyal readers have enquired as to what has happened to the TVH Sartorial in recent months.

For those of you who have come in late the TVH Sartorial is an award given regularly to snappy male dressers at Perth races.

Perth Racing chairman, Ted van Heemst, needed someone to judge the TVH that was fearless, with advanced writing skills, incorruptible, brilliant, witty, elegant, humble, modest and an all round role model to the racing public.

Naturally, he chose me.

Well who else has all the above qualities?

I have to say that in recent months my Sunday Times colleague, Julio Santarelli, has absolutely creamed the field in the fashion stakes, notably at the last three Belmont Park meetings, particularly when wearing the grey suit, pale blue shirt and pink tie.

He’s carried that form over to the Ascot season- more of that later.

There was a time that Julio and I were proud of the fact that we were the journeymen who got the job done quickly and efficiently so that Sunday readers could have their racing stories in front of them as they devoured their Weeties and toast.

Accordingly, we dressed as real workers while those Beau Brummells from The West Australian came dressed in their suits, had time to kill and ponce about, taking their time about getting the stories ready for Monday.

But Julio changed all that late in the Belmont season by wearing suits. If the Cold War was still on I would have thought that he was getting ready to defect somewhere.

However, using my advanced investigative and interrogation skills I soon found out the reason.

Julio is now doing some heavy documentaries for RWWA, in an effort to promote racing, showing the economic importance of the industry to our decision makers and political masters (and mistresses).

Santa was in full swing when I briefly called in at the Ascot meeting on Tuesday, November 6.

I was in the press box and spied him moving through the crowd with a weapon that Arnie the Terminator, Sylvester ‘Rambo’ Stallone or the Navy Seals that hit Osama Bin Laden would have been proud to have owned.

Presumably his weapon was a microphone although the crowd was parting in front of him rapidly and the two sound technicians he had in tow were following him slavishly. It may have been something more deadly.

The Mounted Cops came through the crowd on their horses shortly after. I don’t know whether they were hunting for Julio but I really couldn’t see the point in the horses moving through a crowd who were not rioting or even being boisterous.

Besides which they prevented me studying form-of several delectable mini skirted fillies.

I am just wondering if the Santa Man is going to advance beyond documentaries and move on to Hollywood. I say this because I am informed reliably from some of my racing female sources that Julio is the ‘full package,’ whatever that means. If this is the case he could even consider a political career and challenge Tony Abbott in the Budgie Smuggler Stakes!

Still, he has to be careful because too much exposure could lead to not so much a case of ‘what Santa saw’ (to coin a phrase) but rather Santa being seen too much!

Anyway, on Melbourne Cup Day I gave track manager Geoff Murphy the TVH award. He wore a black pin stripe suit, white shirt and an orange and blue striped tie (sensational). He showed the same sound judgement, in dress sense, that he had at last year’s Railway Stakes when he predicted the protest would be upheld.

However, the previous Saturday, November 3, was a sensation in the TVH, a triple dead heat.

Not since the 1956 Hotham Handicap has there been such a thriller. Back then Jack Purtell (Fighting Force), Reg Heather (Ark Royal) and Bill Williamson (Pandie Sun) were the jockeys in the finish that couldn’t be separated on their mounts.

Now it was Julio, Darren McAullay, and Wes Cameron that went to the line locked together with Jamie ‘Mabel’ Chadwick only a couple of short hairs away in fourth place. The Kojak/Telly Savalas look proved costly to the marketing manager in a tight finish. (Still he would hit back on November 10 with an elegant win in the TVH and even managed to survive Bill Bovington and myself solving the problems of the world, between races, in the press box).

Macca in the pale grey white shirt and dark tie looked as good as Luckygray at his peak; Julio simply maintained his winning form and Wes, in the blue pin stripe, engaged in a hugely successful tactical move, after noting Golden Tonsils had won a TVH wearing the same garb.

In fact I think he borrowed ‘the blue’ off Macca. This was a touch of genius from Wes. Clearly we have moved from the old racing expression of ‘stealing a march’ to ‘stealing a Macca.’

The TVH summer scorcher continues.

The interest remains intense.

John Elsegood