Gai’s Blog 03-02-2013

Following is the latest Gai Waterhouse’s blog.

A few things have been catching my attention lately. Why do we have the races at Warwick Farm every second Saturday? Last Saturday due to an accident, the traffic was so backed up that it took an extra hour to get to Warwick Farm. The rubber necks were out in force; they all were happy to drive very slowly and have a look at the misfortune of the poor people who were involved in the accident.

No one wants to go to Warwick Farm; Racing NSW could free up some money to get the course back up to scratch, but of course they will not. Two of my owners travelled up from Melbourne last Saturday morning. They took the early flight and from Sydney airport, they went straight to Warwick Farm as to be there nice and early for the first. Well as they walked up to the gates they were turned away! They were twenty minutes early!

These wonderful industry participants had dedicated their whole weekend to attending the Sydney races, and they were told they were too early and would not be allowed into the track to the official time gates were supposed to open. Now what were these people to do? They could have easily gone back to the city, and watched the races from the casino, thus costing the races just another 2 less attendees. There is nothing to do in the streets surrounding Warwick Farm, so my lovely dedicated owners simply had to stand there and wait. What a joke. No wonder no one comes to the races.

Why not have a market or something for the people before the races at Warwick Farm. There are actually a few people who still fly up from Melbourne, but the way they are treated, they soon will be like everyone else and watch the races from off the course. At the races on Saturday a representative from a huge international stud was turned away at the ticket office for some unknown reason. This man simply tried to get the tickets that were promised to him and it is not like he is a stranger. Everyone knows this man. Can you imagine this happening at Flemington or Caulfield? There, they would find someone in charge and accommodate a man who represents an entity that contributes millions of dollars to the industry. But no, not in NSW. It is easier to keep someone out of the races, than find a way to included them in a race day.

And also, why does anyone who seems to be having fun at the races (of the very few that attended) get escorted off the track? Rob watches in disbelief as people who are doing nothing more than having a few drinks and enjoying a punt, are one after the other escorted off the track.

Once these people get thrown out, they will never return. It is like Jack the Ripper has been caught at Rosehill racecourse. No one wants to relive bad memories of a bad day. Just 6 or so more people that will never again go to the races. Soon there will be only trainers and bookies all talking among themselves. It is not much different to that now, but at the rate we are going the courses, even on Saturdays will be completely empty. Maybe some advertising that the races are actually on might help. Star City has ads all the time on billboards, on the radio and on the television. Maybe Racing NSW could advertise to the masses that there is great day of racing to attend, and people can still have a person encounter with a bookie and be face to face with some great horses. You can’t experience this on television while watching from a pub or club.

Happy Valley in Hong Kong now has a different popular band playing in-between every race. They only play for ten minutes or so, leaving plenty of time for the young crowd to still place a bet and enjoy the race. This is something we could consider to maybe attract more young people to the races.

I also need to mention Alistair Simpson. He is one of our greatest ever equine artists who has painted a portrait of the Derby winner and the Golden Slipper winner for years. Now the STC has decided that if the winning connections want a painting of their feature race winner they have to spend $5,000 of their own “turf dollars.” Alistair’s paintings hang on the walls of Rosehill and Randwick and they are truly magnificent. He has painted the winners of these two autumn classics for 26 years; these are huge races on the Australian racing calendar and the winners of these races should be honoured with a portrait. But now the paintings have been put on hold. Don’t the race clubs understand the history of these races? Phar Lap, Peter Pan and Tulloch have all won the Sydney Derby and we all know the rich history of the Golden Slipper. We need to preserve this history and Alistair’s painting were an ideal way to do this.

Right. Back to the horses. Saturday morning at track work was wet and miserable. I do feel sorry for the jockeys when it is like that. They really do get very wet. Rachael Murray is certainly one who is not afraid of the wet. Her feedback, confidence and her dedication to her work is second to none. She is really a joy to work with and is just the most charming young lady.

Mick, an English jockey who works at Tulloch Lodge, seemed to be afraid of the puddles. I said to him (knowing full well what his answer would be) “Mick, where are you from?” He replied that he was from England. I followed up and said “so it doesn’t rain in England?” It is fair to say he put his head down and worked a touch harder for the rest of the morning.

Marseille Roulette (Zizou x Eclectus) heads to Victoria in terrific order looking for Blue Diamond glory. Power Broker (Zabeel x Power And Grace) is heading even further south en route to Launceston and an attempt at the time honoured Launceston Cup. Reuben Percival (Al Akbar x Yachting Magic) returns to Victoria for a crack at the rich Mornington Cup.

We had such fun at Restaurant 16 on Saturday night. One of my international jockeys Thomas walked pass with his girlfriend and was shouted a meal by the fellas at dinner. It is funny at different restaurants in Australia: the Thai is cooked by an Australian; the French cuisine is made by a Chinese man. Luckily the Italian is made by an Italian. It does make you laugh.

I have been taken with colt Windjammer (Bernardini x Ekali) around the stables this week. He has bulked up since the spring and looks fantastic. He jumped out easy last week and trials at Randwick this week.

I must say I am much chuffed after receiving a phone call for Jason, a representative from Sheikh Mohammad’s office. I was informed that the great man has given me three colts to train. One by Denman and two by Commands. I am very pleased and honoured to be training for such a great horse lover.

Well my Sunday therapy is just about finished, the therapy of getting my nails done! It is a nice end to the week to have a bit of me time and enjoy a manicure. The weeks are so long for both Rob and I. And the upcoming week is looking very exhausting. We have Grandmother Susie’s and Luke’s birthdays, a David Jones function and all the normal hustle and bustle at Randwick in preparation for the autumn carnival. I will keep you posted.

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