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13/10/2000 edition

Flemington Racetrack

Guess what leading jockey Jason Patton said about the officially Good rated track after only the second race at Flemington last Saturday?
He said that the track was crumbling like a biscuit, was Slow and with only a little bit of rain had not come up.
Matthew Stewart in Melbourne's Herald Sun last Monday wrote:
"Form-guide facts and figures had the track rated good. Track walkers and jockeys had it rated somewhere between a patchwork quilt and a joke."
Nick Columb who was for 13 years the President of the Victorian Branch of the Thoroughbred Racehorse Owners' Association also had this to say in Melbourne's Herald Sun last Monday:
"On Saturday we ..... trecked over the new multi-storey grandstand. Members can now see the horses' noses at the winning post instead of the infernal rump-watching they've put up with over the years.
See, in the end it's all really about the horses which makes me wonder how the VRC can justify spending nearly $50 million on a stand, when Australia's greatest racetrack borders on the unraceable."

No surprise to us. That's why in our review of racetracks we rank Flemington as the worst metropolitan track for punters in the country. That is also why our strongest selections at Flemington last Saturday were horses that handled rain affected going. The forecast was for rain, the weather was threatening and we also knew what a small amount of rain can do to the track at Flemington. So we specially prepared for a Flemington rated Good track.

Amazingly, that morning the penetrometer reading was a low 3.71 indicating that the track was even on the Fast side of Good. So why the problem? It's not as if it was raining in buckets at Flemington on Saturday. There would have been no problem at Moonee Valley. Nick Columb is certainly right. Someone needs to get their priorities right. Maybe instead of spending $46 million dollars on a new grandstand some of the money could have been spent on a complete overhaul of the track.

The stewards kept the official track rating as Good for the entire meeting at Flemington. A check of the times run would even show they were justified with the fifth run over 1200 metres won in only 1:08.69 and the last over 1412 metres in the smart time of 1:23.78.

One look at the racing however would indicate that not all was right. The track was clearly uneven and patchy with the rails no good and horses having to race wide in the home straight. Horses drawn near the inside had no chance in the one straight track 1200 metres race. The best finishing position from a horse in the first six barriers in that race was Cullen which finished seventh in the field of 14.

Watch out for some possible form reversals from that race and elsewhere. Also note down that some horses, not all mind you, may actually have been racing on a Slow track or plenty of patches of Dead and Slow going which your form guide will tell you was Good.

We will be treating the Flemington Carnival very warily. We have learnt to save our money by ignoring virtually all midweek and plenty of Saturday racing at that track. If there is rain around be prepared for, as Nick Columb wrote, a nearly "unraceable" track.

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