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29/9/2000 edition

Apprentice Jockeys

There is a good reason why apprentice jockeys are able to claim up to three kilos. They are not as competent as experienced senior jockeys. With the occasional really outstanding apprentice the claim is a luxury. However most apprentice jockeys need the claim to help them compete on more equal terms with good experienced jockeys.
It follows then that it is a mistake when doing form to assume that a horse is well weighted because it has a three kilos claiming youngster aboard. Nothing beats experience.

Last Saturday, September 23, 2000 Madame Plume appeared to come in very well on the weights at 55 kilos in the Mares Open at Caulfield after allowing for Dale Smith's three kilos claim . But she would probably have done better carrying the full 58 kilos with a top senior hoop aboard. Dale Smith led and set such an unbelievably slow pace that they weren't even crawling. The race developed into a very fast sprint home. The last 600 of the 1600 metres race was run in 33.62 seconds, that is 1.28 seconds faster or approximately eight lengths faster than the last 600 in the Group 1 handicap won by Testa Rossa over a shorter distance, 1400 metres.

The first things experienced jockeys tell you about leading is to go just fast enough so that no one is prepared to take you on. That was not the case on Saturday. Well before the home turn some of the experienced jockeys, fed up with the slow pace, simultaneously made a move and the sprint home was on. Dale Smith was caught napping. Top jockeys like Patrick Payne and John Marshall were not going to be like snails behind him and do nothing. Before he knew it he found himself no longer leading, but on the rails behind the leading horses surrounded by horseflesh and unable to get a run the entire straight.

Madame Plume
the 11/4 favourite was the best of things beaten. Dale Smith will learn from the race if he is going to make a top career for himself. But as for the punters on Madame Plume, they can just lament about another one that got away and tear up their tickets. They were on the best horse in the race. It was just unfortunate that on that day the inexperienced jockey put in a bad one. But that is after all why they have three kilos claims. 

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