The ‘fastest’ greyhounds of all time unearthed

Stryker's ShadowI blame Peter, an Australian Racing Greyhounds website reader, for this (

Peter kindly took the time to email this writer regarding another article I had written, pointing out some errors, which I have since corrected.

This led me to make a concerted effort to try and upgrade and improve my own list of track records. Talk about dancing in a minefield, although while doing this research I inadvertently discovered the two fastest greyhounds to have ever raced.

I started checking the track records via the PDF on the AGRA website. This is the one accessed by clicking the misnamed ‘race records’. A PDF appears, courtesy of the Greyhound Recorder, with a list of all tracks and distances and record holders and their times.

Great, you would think. Except when you start looking into the detail and comparing it with other sources. Wherever I found discrepancies I put a question mark. I then went back through my list and started pulling up the relevant information for each runner and checking the times and dates.

In theory, this should have meant everything could be crosschecked and corrected and I would finish up with an accurate set of track records from across the nation. OK, in the vast majority of cases the figures are correct. Unfortunately, I still finished up with a set of questions.

The classics have to be these gems from The Dogs website ( This is actually quite a comprehensive and useful website, but under the track information for Broken Hill I found the 375 metre track record is supposedly held by a greyhound named Booma Herbie. The time: a sensational 7.19 seconds.

Just in case you think I’ve hit the wrong set of numbers on the keyboard, that’s seven point one nine seconds. This superstar ran this time on 11 November 2010, 42 months ago. This makes Booma Herbie almost the fastest greyhound in the history of racing, hurtling across the track at 52 metres per second. Booma could have been on Mars before lunch at that speed.

It gets worse. The track record at Lismore was supposedly obliterated on 6 May this year by Rush Of Power, who ran 6.71 seconds (yes, six point seven one) for the 520 metres. Of course this makes Rush Of Power even faster than Booma Herbie.

Now, before you start calling for people who arrive in padded vans and armed with coats that button up at the back, I realize these are typographical errors.

When I worked at DeFax at various times in the 1990s we used to receive a printout of the race meetings held in NSW and would glance through them looking for aberrations of the Booma Herbie /Rush Of Power variety. Any perceived errors would be noted and often meant calling the club secretary to check the information supplied. In all cases it was simply a human error: someone hitting the wrong key on the keyboard. We’ve all done it. What amazes me is that surely someone, somewhere in the NSW administration over the last 42 months would have noticed the Booma Herbie glitch? Apparently not. And Booma Herbie raced another seven times after that ‘unbelievable’ performance.

More mundanely, at Armidale, the Greyhound Recorder has the record for 440 metres accredited to Sawtell Mick at 25.23 (18/2/2012), but misses Monkey Harris who ran the same time on 13 February 2010.

The 450m at Bathurst is credited to Rima at 25.60 (25/6/2011), but Buck Fever ran 25.47 there on 10 October 2011 (as a website reader pointed out though, the dog was later disqualified for a positive swab).

Coonamble is weird; not the place, but the records. Go Now is credited with a hand-timed 22.72 for 400 metres, but his race record notes the best that greyhound ever ran was 22.94 (30/9/2006). Cryptic Dream is also credited with the same time, yet its career record has no evidence of the dog ever racing at Coonamble (career spanned 2005-2006). Proper Fun is assigned the 530 metres record at 30.03, but the best time it ever achieved as far as its official record is concerned was 30.29 (raced 2005-2007).

At Kempsey the 350 metres record is attributed to Nevada Sunset at 19.97, yet I can find no evidence this dog ever raced there.

The Taree record for 314 metres is accredited to Awesome Kitty at 17.81 (23/3/2013) yet Most Wanted ran 17.60 there on 12 November 2005. Crazy Carrie is the 392-metre record holder with 22.12 (8/9/2012) but Chief Stimo ran 22.08 on 17 December 2005.

Velocity Repair is the 498-metre record holder at Townsville, but the record holder is actually Velocity Regina.

At Traralgon the 298-metre record is 16.60 run by Arizona Dozer (22/12/2012), yet Maestro Jimmy ran 16.56 there on 26 May 2006.

The problem, of course, is that we have separate states and territories all running their own databases. Tracks are remodeled from time to time so the previous records become redundant, yet there doesn’t appear to be a mechanism in place to take account of this. Yet from what I can see, most of the glitches are simply human errors that should have been easily picked up.



Preah Vihear should return to Thailand

Why Preah Vihear should return to Thailand web picThe following is my preface to a short e-book regarding the  dispute over the sovereignty of the temple of Preah Vihear (as it is called by the Cambodians) or Khao Phra Viharn (as it is known by the Thais).

My initial thoughts were that Thailand, having lost a court case in the international arena in 1962 was simply refusing to honour the spirit of that decision.

Thai nationalists claimed the area around the temple had been stolen by way of a biased court during the tumultuous years of the Cold War. They suggested the eminent jurists charged with making a fair and impartial decision had been influenced by the geo-political landscape of the period, not by the merits of the case.

Having read the oft-repeated but usually summarised International Court of Justice (ICJ) decision, made in 1962, the only conclusion that could be reached was Cambodia had triumphed fair and square in a legal battle with her much larger and stronger neighbour.

I kept thinking Thailand was acting like the schoolyard bully, determined to have its way and sulking and pouting until it achieved this aim.

So, I decided to try and obtain as much primary source information about the case as I could, study it, and, hopefully, put forward a cogent argument to dispel the erroneous Thai belief that they had somehow been cheated out of what was rightfully theirs.

By the time I read all the various submissions and the lengthy legal opinions penned both for and against the ICJ decision by five of the judges who sat on the case, I changed my mind.

I am now of the firm belief the ICJ erred in its decision to award Cambodia sovereignty over Preah Vihear.

Of course, this is only my personal opinion. It doesn’t make me right, nor, for that matter, does it make me wrong. Had the ICJ jurists found unanimously in favour of Cambodia, I doubt I would ever have considered an alternative point of view.

Yet, three especially prominent members of the panel saw fit to disagree with their peers.

Interestingly, all three were non-Europeans: a Chinese, Argentinian, and Australian. Given their national histories, it might have been expected they would support the ‘underdog’ Cambodia; instead, they favoured Thailand.

The nine judges who favoured Cambodia applied a Latin phrase which translates as ‘he who keeps silent is held to consent if he must and can speak’. This was the central premise on which they based their rejection of Thailand’s arguments.

The nine judges claimed Thailand’s failure to protest the inaccuracy of a map purporting to show the international boundary with Cambodia constituted tacit acceptance of the line as established by a 1904 Treaty.

For me, as for the three dissenting judges, it was the discovery of an important and salient mapping error that turned the tide in favour of Thailand. This error, which was only uncovered because of the court case, put a completely different slant, as far as I was concerned, on the end result of the case.

In what follows I have tried to disseminate as impartially as possible the important points made by all the judges, both for and against the decision.

Find the e-book here:

Blackballed by the National Coursing Association…and proud of it

Zoom Top wins Summer CupThe National Coursing Association (NCA) became something of a pariah within the greyhound community in early 2013.

This private members club has a long history and for much of it the NCA and its chief local rival the GBOTA were often at each others throats, much to the overall detriment of greyhound racing in general.

Back in 1988 an NCA committeeman suggested I should apply to join this elitist organisation. While I did as requested, the end result saw me become one of very few applicants, so I am led to believe, to be blackballed by the NCA committee.

You might think I was upset by this rejection. I wasn’t at the time, and never have been. In fact I wear the rejection with some pride. I am a great believer in Marx’s famous and much quoted: ‘I don’t want to belong to any club that would accept me as one if its members.’ Of course that was Groucho, not Karl, Marx.

The circumstances surrounding my application and ultimate rejection revolve around my position at the time as editor of the new Australian Greyhound Review monthly magazine which had kicked into life, with the support of the GBOTA, in September 1987.

I had become friends with William Bracht, the author of Greyhounds and Mechanical Lure Racing, a successful book published in 1972. Bill was also an NCA committeeman and suggested that as editor of the magazine I should join both the NCA and GBOTA. He would put my name forward for the NCA. Although initially reluctant, I agreed and, depending on the outcome, I would then possibly join the GBOTA.

Not long after the NCA application went in, Bill suffered an almost fatal heart attack and, as far as I recall, never again took his place on the committee.

When time came for me to be interviewed I attended the committee room at Wentworth Park and was introduced by the-then secretary Rory Glass to the NCA President Neville Bailey. Seated around a quite large table were the committee members, minus Bill Bracht.

Bailey said words to the effect the members of his committee would ask me the same series of questions they asked of every applicant. This proved to be a lie.

The first few question were indeed innocuous enough. Then they started to focus on the magazine and certain stories which had appeared in previous issues which they were less than impressed with.

Joe Dess, later described to me as Neville Bailey’s ‘hatchet man’, looked at me and intoned,“Could you tell me, if you came into possession of information which was detrimental to the NCA would you publish it in your magazine?”

The die was cast. I knew my answer would decide my ‘fate’. I also knew I no longer cared, so simply said, “First I would ask someone from the NCA what the truth or otherwise was of this information and, depending on the answer, yes, I would publish it.”

The silence around the table was almost deafening.

To his ever-lasting credit Bruce Fletcher suddenly chimed in with a question, more an observation, saying something like, “So, you wouldn’t intentionally try and discredit the NCA? You would act responsibly…”

Considering it was obvious to me within a few minutes of being in the room there was no way I was getting admitted into this private club, I have always admired Bruce Fletcher for this effort to pour oil on troubled waters.

The interview was soon terminated when Neville Bailey thanked me for coming and said, “The secretary will send you a letter in due course to let you know the result of our deliberations.”

End of game: get out the blackballs I could almost hear them thinking.

I did indeed receive a letter a couple of weeks later informing me my application ‘had failed’ but if I would like to be considered again I should contact the NCA in writing and my name would again be placed on the list.

No, I didn’t bother replying to the letter and nor did I bother applying to the GBOTA and in the quarter of a century since then I have happily been standing on the outside looking in.

This story first appeared here:



Zoom Top: the ‘Bradman’ of Australian greyhound racing

Zoom Top, Australia's Greatest Greyhound gold coverIn the pantheon of greyhound racing’s superstars there is just one name, almost Bradman-like if one is seeking sporting comparisons, standing practically head and shoulders above the rest. That greyhound is Zoom Top.

A cold and calculated look at Zoom Top’s overall racing record might leave some with an impression of greatness, but not of supremacy, of dominance, of might, and power. In some ways perhaps, this is true.

Zoom Top was not the greatest sprinter ever seen, nor even the best sprinter of her time. She was a great stayer, although not the fastest of her time. Nonetheless, Zoom Top’s longevity and dominance over a long period against the best opposition in the country proved beyond doubt she was a truly magnificent champion and worthy of the adulation and accolades bestowed upon her by an adoring public. Her contribution to the growth in the popularity of greyhound racing in the late 1960s that led to the halcyon days of the 1970s cannot be underestimated.

Zoom Top, despite the passage of time, remains one of the yardsticks by which true greatness is measured.

Zoom Top had the longest career, in terms of race starts, of any greyhound elevated to the status of champion in Australia. That she remained incredibly consistent and dominant for such a long period contributed much to her exalted status.

Zoom Top was one of three greyhounds (Chief Havoc and Highly Blessedbeing the other pair) to be granted honorary Australian Group Hall of Fame status by the Australian Greyhound Racing Association in a ceremony conducted in late 2000.

By Black Top out of Busy Beaver, Zoom Top was whelped on 24 August 1966. The litter, bred by Hec and Leah Watt, consisted of two dogs and three bitches.

Peter Newman, the greyhound writer for the Sydney Morning Herald, would dub Zoom Top ‘the Fawn Flash’ and many would suggest she was some kind of ‘freak’. Although this was meant as a compliment, Leah Watt did not appreciate this tag, saying Zoom Top was “just a very intelligent dog with a heart like an ox.”

Hec Watt considered Zoom Top to be so far advanced for her age that he entered her for a maiden race at Goulburn when she was just 14 months old. She won. In fact, she won her first three starts.

It was around this time Zoom Top became affected by a toe problem which veterinarians said would never completely heal. By using ray treatment between races Watt was able to keep the problem manageable and Sweetie, as she was known, generally only suffered in sprint events when she was forced to barge through tight fields and risk jarring the toe.

Zoom Top finished 1967 having raced 10 times on seven tracks for four wins, one second, and one third, and equalling the 457-metre track record at Temora.

Zoom Top won her first start for 1968 over 617 metres at Bulli. Hec Watt believed both Zoom Top and litter sister Busy’s Charm had the hallmarks of stayers, so he began mapping out what many veteran trainers considered was a far too ambitious program for such young, developing greyhounds.

Watt believed greyhounds in full race fitness could easily compete two and three times a week. It was a regime which both Zoom Top and Busy’s Charm would experience throughout their long careers as Hec Watt took what he believed was full advantage of their abilities while they were approaching and then in the prime of their racing lives. The final results for both his superstars would arguably justify his different and controversial approach.

Zoom Top proved Watt right, leading all the way to score by seven lengths in 36.5, the best time of the night.

Despite her obvious talents as a stayer, Watt would continue to race Zoom Top over all sorts of distances throughout her long career.

By the time she was just 18 months old, Zoom Top had won over the gruelling 732 metres trip at Harold Park and first-up over 722 metres at Wentworth Park, and reached top grade.

She finished fifth at her first top grade Harold Park appearance, but this would be her last unplaced performance in a race of 617 metres or further for 18 months.

Her first crack at a major race came when she was 20 months old, contesting the Wentworth Park Gold Cup. Zoom Top scored a memorable victory in the final, propelling her earnings to almost $7,000 at what was her 34th start (12 wins).

At her next start Zoom Top won at Harold Park in 43.3, a mere 1/10th outside Bright Pleasure’s hand-timed track and world record, set in 1954.

The next major target was the Association Cup at Harold Park, and Zoom Top annexed the final by six lengths.

After running second in the 457-metre Winter Stake final in July, just two days later Zoom Top won the 795-metre Queensland Distance Championship at Beenleigh by eight lengths in track record time.

On the way back to Sydney, Zoom Top was entered in the 402-metre Grafton Cup and, in a remarkable example of her growing maturity and amazing versatility, registered a two-length victory.

Hec Watt made another surprising move, entering her in the Richmond Oaks series, run up the straight over just 292 metres. She won her heat and the final, the manner of her successes stamping her as one of the most versatile greyhounds ever.

Zoom Top, now two years old and a seasoned campaigner, had become a crowd pulling attraction wherever she raced.

At her first start on sand, over 732 metres at Olympic Park in Melbourne in the Anniversary Cup, Zoom Top was beaten six lengths by the brilliant Miram Miss, but was found to have sprung a toe. She would not race again for just over six weeks.

She resumed to win heat and final of the Silver Collar over 507 metres at Dapto, equalling the track record before going on to win heat and final of the Sydney Cup at Wentworth Park, downing Miram Miss in both races, and running a new track record of 43.2. The Sydney Cup prize money propelled her earnings to a new Australian record of $17,798.

She followed with an extremely unlucky fifth in the final of Vic Peters Memorial Classic before later equalling the 617-metre track record at Bulli.

Next up was the Summer Cup at Harold Park, where she faced the new track record holder Bunyip Bint in the final. A crowd estimated at 13,000 trekked to Harold Park for the final, and watched as Bunyip Bint failed to hit the front and instead Zoom Top raced away to thunderous applause to defeat Busy’s Charm by three lengths.

After the race the ovation continued for Zoom Top and pressmen who had covered all forms of racing rated it the greatest any of them had ever heard.

With this victory, Zoom Top became the first and only greyhound to ever annex the four major Sydney distance cups in the same year.

Next up was the NSW St Leger (now the Paws of Thunder) series over 530 metres at Wentworth Park. After winning her semi-final, Zoom Top drew badly in box six for final, but a crowd of more than 14,000 flocked to watch their idol attempt a victory against a seasoned group of sprinters.

When she was presented to the crowd before the final the crowd gave her a mighty roar even before her name was announced. Zoom Top did not let them down, leading all the way to win in 31.0, a new race record. The prize money took her earnings to $29,043 from 69 starts.

Five days later, Zoom Top won the Boxing Day Trophy up the 375-metre Richmond straight by four lengths. The largest crowd ever seen at Richmond turned up to see Zoom Top run and after her victory she had to be given a police escort to take her through the many people who rushed down to pat her or just get a glimpse of the queen of greyhound racing.

Zoom Top closed out 1968 by winning a heat of the Christmas Gift over 732 metres at Harold Park to notch her eighth consecutive win.

During 1968 Zoom Top contested 61 races for 31 wins, 13 seconds, and six thirds, and setting or equalling five track records and, not surprisingly, was named NSW Greyhound of the Year.

After three defeats Zoom Top contested the Hobart Thousand series, but tore a front stopper in a trial and also in winning her heat. Patched up, she won her semi-final but was beaten by Benjamin John in the final.

She missed out in the Australian Cup and National Futurity series before making the final of the inaugural National Distance Championship, at Wentworth Park. Zoom Top finished third to Amerigo Lady after almost being knocked down at the first turn.

A week later, Zoom Top lined up against Amerigo Lady and Miram Miss in a special match race at Harold Park, scoring by three and a half lengths from the former.

Returning to the sprint arena, Zoom Top lined up in a special four-dog match race over 457 metres at Harold Park, the Fawn Flash thrilling a crowd of almost 13,000 to score by a long neck.

Zoom Top received the biggest ovation ever heard on a greyhound track. It was learned later the roar of the crowd during the race could be heard more than a kilometre away.

After successfully defending her Wentworth Park Gold Cup title, Zoom Top won a top grade sprint at Harold Park and then broke the 689-metre track record at Gosford. Zoom Top later won a heat of the Olympic Park Distance Championship by 15 lengths before winning the final by six lengths.

A track record over 498 metres at Moss Vale was followed by a 14-length victory in a semi-final of the Association Cup before Zoom Top overcame severe early interference to defend her title and win the final from Busy’s Charm.

It was her second Association Cup victory, a feat never before, or since, achieved. It was also her 50th race victory (from 96 starts) and her seventh win in a row at Harold Park. Her prize money now stood at $46,433.

A track record run over 686 metres at Newcastle was soon followed by her 100th race,

a four-dog Invitation Stake over 676 metres at Maitland which she won by 10 lengths, equalling the track record.

A little later Zoom Top defended her Queensland Distance Championship crown, over 795 metres at Beenleigh, defeating Miram Miss by eight lengths and breaking her own track record. A record crowd of about 1,500 people witnessed the victory and after the race she was mobbed by women and children who wanted to kiss, pat or just admire her.

At her previous 22 starts, Zoom Top had recorded 17 wins, one second, two thirds, and two fourths, setting or equalling four track records.

Zoom Top was beaten at seven of her next eight outings, on seven tracks, including seconds in equal track record time at Bathurst and Grafton.

The three-year-old seemed to be racing with less than her usual relish and when she finished last at Harold Park one night her failure sparked off one of the noisiest demonstrations ever seen. A steward’s inquiry was immediately convened, but the reason for Zoom Top’s failure became immediately clear. The inside toe on her left front foot was swollen to twice its normal size and she was in obvious pain. Soon after, the course veterinarian Reg Hoskins operated on the toe and Hec Watt promised he would not race her again until she was fully fit.

Zoom Top did not race again for six weeks. The respite proved a blessing in disguise.

She resumed racing with an emphatic win in a 457-metre Invitation Stake at Harold Park, broke the 658-metre track record at Taree by 9/10ths, and a Sydney Cup heat by 12 lengths, running 42.9 to break her own track record by 3/10ths.

Unfortunately, Zoom Top was involved in a mass collision between five dogs at the first bend in the final which caused Busy’s Charm to fall, and led to Zoom Top being forced to hurdle her stricken sister. Further bother followed but Zoom Top ran on strongly to be beaten only four and a half lengths into fourth place, the first time she had been unplaced in 15 distance starts at Wentworth Park.

She quickly bounced back, winning in front of 12,000 cheering fans at Harold Park before winning a heat and final of the NCA Cup over 718 metres at Sandown Park.

She then faced Bunyip Bint in an Invitation Stake at Harold Park but was a well beaten second as Bunyip Bint ran an incredible 42.7, smashing her own mark by 3/10ths. That night no greyhound in Australia could have beaten Bunyip Bint.

On 15 November, Bunyip Bint and Zoom Top clashed again, this time over 695 metres at Goulburn. The day was overcast and wet and the field went to the boxes wearing protective orange plastic raincoats. In an amazing blunder, Hec Watt placed Zoom Top into the boxes still wearing the raincoat. Hampered by the raincoat, Zoom Top came home in last place while Bunyip Bint equalled the track record.

After the race Hec Watt was fined $100 for negligence. Later, when Hec admitted suffering from nerves when racing the champion, he was barred from placing Zoom Top or any of his other charges in the starting boxes.

Zoom Top was also found to have pulled a muscle in her back leg and was out for seven weeks.

During 1969 Zoom Top raced 51 times for 28 wins, eight seconds, and six thirds (as well as five fourths), setting or equalling seven track records. Once more she was named NSW Greyhound of the Year.

Into 1970 and Zoom Top set a new track record over 457 metres at Temora, won an Invitation Stake at Olympic Park by nine lengths, and broke the 622-metre track record at Wangaratta, the 15th, and last, of her career.

She ran within 1/10th of the 494-metre record at Orange and later clashed for the fifth and final time with Bunyip Bint in the 640-metre Singleton Gold Cup, downing that erratic stayer by a length and a quarter to record her 68th victory, an Australian record (131 starts). Sadly, it was also her last.

Zoom Top raced just five more times, being injured at Dapto, running second twice at Harold Park and then, tragically, breaking down in a heat of the Sir Joseph Bank’s Cup at Wentworth Park.

Following the race Zoom Top was found to have once more pulled a muscle in her back leg. At this point Hec Watt declared Zoom Top would be retired immediately.

She finished with 136 starts for 68 wins, 25 seconds, and 14 thirds. She earned what was then a whopping $59,032, easily the highest amount ever accumulated to that time. She raced on 27 tracks and won on 24. Her average winning margin in races of longer than 617 metres was an incredible 6.5 lengths.

Zoom Top made the final of 17 out of 21 major races and won 11, with two seconds, two thirds, one fourth and one fifth. She won seven of the 10 major distance finals she contested and suffered severe interference in two of the three she lost.

Zoom Top raced 64 times in races between 617 and 795 metres for 39 wins, 13 seconds, and five thirds. Of her seven unplaced efforts, two were fourths and three due to injury.

There has never been a greyhound with the versatility of Zoom Top. We will almost certainly never see the likes of her again.

For Zoom Top’s complete racing record and story, here is the link to my e-book:

This story first appeared here:


How to Survive Pattaya and its Nightlife

How to Survive Pattaya and its NightlifePattaya is, without doubt, the leading nightlife destination in Asia. That’s a big claim of course, but with a variety of nightclubs, discos, outside drinking bars (known simply as beer bars) and what would be termed strip clubs in other countries but called go-go’s in Pattaya (and Bangkok), it oozes sex and sensuality.

I started writing about the bar scene in Pattaya in 2000, under the pen-name Nightmarch. I ceased doing it in 2012. There are certain constants within the night bar scene and these never change. Certainly the faces and the names change. Certainly the bars change: some go out of business, others are sold, others continue to march steadily forward. Yet the basics remain the same.

There is a popular and much copied t-shirt sold in Thailand which has the phrase ‘Same, Same, but Different’ emblazoned across it. In four simple words it sums up the bar scene perfectly.

So, this short book consists of a series of pieces written for the Nightmarch column over the years which, taken together, are intended to serve not so much as a warning but as a road map both for the unwary novice and the veteran long-termer.

Novices will make the mistakes in spite of the pieces in the book while the veteran will merely be reminded of the mistakes he has already made, but hopefully not make them again.

The e-book is available here:

The Truth About Newspaper & Formguide Tips

Brisbane Cup 14 Dec 2006If you’ve ever wondered if the tips in a racebook or formguide are worth much more than a passing glance, the following may just open your eyes a little.

From the late 1980s to the late 1990s I freelanced at different times for DeFax Sporting Publications in Sydney. At that time DeFax was supplying formguides to almost every greyhound track in NSW, with something like 40 meetings being put together each week.

In those days, despite computers and data processing, the Internet either didn’t exist or, when it finally did, was still very much in its infancy, nothing like the behemoth it is today. With each state running its own database of form, and all in differing styles, it was the fax machine upon which much reliance was placed.

For example, when a Victorian greyhound was engaged at a NSW track, we would contact National Greyhound Form and ask them to send a fax of the relevant dogs’ form. This would then be added to the NSW database, although usually just the number of starts and placings and the last six or so races in a bit more detail.

The bottom line was the work of checking each racebook was time intensive and to supply tips for tracks like Cootamundra, Dubbo, Broken Hill and the rest meant that in most cases the selections were made at about 30 seconds per race.

I often wondered if the locals who used DeFax took any notice of the selections, because if they were of the belief the picks were the result of lengthy and informed form study they were sadly mistaken.

The only tracks where more effort was put into the picks were the TAB circuits like Gosford, Dapto, Bulli, Richmond and the like.

Also, a lot more effort was put into the selections for the Wentworth Park Saturday and Monday meetings, where I would go upstairs to the GBOTA office and watch the video replays of the previous couple of meetings.

For me, being a regular at the city meetings meant I knew most of the runners and had a pretty good idea of assessing most races. Even so, the selection process for both meetings had to be completed by the previous Thursday.

The DeFax tips for Saturday night were sent to the Daily Telegraph and appear in the Tipster Poll at the top of the Wentworth Park formguide. I wasn’t any better or worse than most; the best I ever managed being seven winners on top, out of 10 races.

Major race finals were, quite often, some of the easiest to assess, and in this regard one race sticks out in my mind, the 1999 National Derby final at Wentworth Park.

After the run-offs the race looked as good as over with Queensland star Faithful Hawk drawn well in box seven. He had the early speed, sectional times, and overall run home times to be the deserved favourite. However, when watching the video replays I noticed the dog drawn in box six for the final was a good beginner who veered slightly right at the start. Faithful Hawk jumped to the left, and I thought it would only take a brief 2/100ths of a second ‘prop’ by Faithful Hawk at the start to let the only other chance in the race, Hahn Bale (box four), steal enough of a break to lead into the first turn and take the race. I wrote as much in the DeFax preview and put my money where my mouth was on race night, taking the 5/2 ($3.50) about Hahn Bale.

As the bunny rolled for the start of the Derby final my eyes were glued to the six alley, and, sure enough, it popped out quickly and went slightly right, holding up Faithful Hawk for that vital moment. Hahn Bale began well from box four and led narrowly into the first bend from Faithful Hawk before going on to score by almost five lengths in race record time.

As readers of this website are well aware, the videos of heats and semi-finals are available almost as soon as they are run and can be watched over and over again from the comfort of your own chair. When the field for a final is completed and the box draw done, it is well worth having a look at the heats and noting the way each of the eight finalists begins from the boxes and the line they take in the early part of a race.

The moral of this story is quite simple: make your own judgement and ignore the tipsters. You’ll find, over time, your selection processes are just as good, if not better, than many of the so-called ‘experts’.

This story first appeared here:

Clueless? you betcha!

me, Daniel, Chris, Abi, Jonathan, Puu, Hip, Byron, PeterThe following article appeared in the 2 May 2014 edition of the Pattaya Mail newspaper. I haven’t written about my experiences in the making of this short film, simply because it is, as the newspaper article notes, still being hawked around the short film circuit.

I can say the entire experience was terrific, primarily because all the people involved -and I mean all- were great to work with, especially for a complete novice like myself. I do think the title, ‘Clueless?’, was entirely appropriate in my case.