|Issue No 49||07 April 2000|
The Locker Room
In the grand tradition of such notorious racing columns as The Gadfly and The Muckraker, we unleash "Buster Punter," Workers Online's own unrepentant, unreconstructed, reprobate from the racetrack.
Buster is our man trackside who's prepared to lift the lid and blow the whistle but definitely not piss in anyone's pocket but his own. Buster is very much an "unlicensed person" so he won't be answering to any Steward's inquiries or Minister's calls when he tips the bucket on scandal, skullduggery or just general incompetence on matters turf. Over to you Buster!
G'day punters. Well it's a long time since the days of being bitten for a monkey by 'Break Even' Bill Mordey in an alcoholic stupor at the Graphic Arts Club, getting on a good thing on the last in Brisbane before going back for the night shift at The Sun. But I thought I'd resurface after a decade long hangover to make a few salient and sober observations about this beautiful thing called the racing game...
In today's fragmented, deconstructed, hypermediated post-modern world where there's no truth and every truth, how is it that the political gatekeepers deem punting a sin? Strewth! I thought the whole idea behind po-mo was so that everyone could do their own thing and not cop a bagging. But somehow the agenda setters have declared the punt evil and earmarked it as something to feel guilty about. I mean what would old comrades from the Sydney Push think? These were the intellectual radicals who loved nothing more than having a punt. Apart from debating the relative merits of clitoral and vaginal orgasms over a few beers down at the local, the Push regarded the punt as one of the greatest expressions of freedom you could experience. I'd feel a lot less under siege and a lot more relaxed and comfortable if the agenda setters got off us humble punter's case and worried more about Rupert and Kerry paying their fair share of tax.
So Autumn's in the air, another Sydney racing carnival beckons and the dear old AJC is probably going to have its Easter parade rained on again for the umpteenth time. Why is it that the AJC's Easter carnival gets rained out nearly every year? Maybe it's a whole lot of bad karma coming home to roost for industrial misbehaviour of years past? So on the basis of a whole bunch of equine superstars dropping out of the carnival and it becoming an $8 million beerfest I'll throw my hat into the ring...
Cruelly referred to by some cynics as "the million dollar welter" after the all too often drop out of big names at acceptance time. A handicap, but more and more becoming one in name only. Although the Donny has a great history of being a lottery race, the generous handicapping of topweights and the squeezing up of the bottom weights is making this event more like a set weights race than a handicap (good one fellas - another win for the big end of town at the battler's expense).
This year it looks like a two horse race as the handicapper has given Sunline the greatest free kick since John Howard handed Kerry Packer a $180 million Digital TV licence for nix by awarding this mare no penalty for winning the Coolmore Classic at Rosehill last Saturday. Here's a mare that has been rated the best on turf in the world, has kicked their brains in by humping 60kg to victory in a Group 1 race last week and now gets invited to do it again with 2.5kg less in a race that quite often loses a few big guns by post time! Forget about the weight carrying record garbage, it's irrelevant - today's 57.5kg in real terms is yesteryear's 53.5kg when the limit weight was lower. Sunline will have them all off the bit and be highballing at the 200m and will be extremely hard to run down. There's only one horse weighted to beat her; Hire, who has been fair dinkum pitchforked into the race with a luxury weight of 51.5kg. Improving three-year-olds have a great record in the Donny and this horse looks the goods.
The Sydney Cup
If the Doncaster is the million-dollar welter, then this event is the Summer Cup on steroids. Every year a pack of one paced no hopers turn up to get flogged for 2 miles and then promptly go missing in action when the real staying races get run in the Spring down south. And every year we hear excuses why the Sydney Cup failed to measure up. Sure, Tie The Knot, Kingston Town and few other great horses have won the race, but who remembers all the dog meat that struggled to beat the ambulance home in a quagmire year after year? It's an embarrassment to Australian racing and if you're going to throw your hard earned on this race you're being a fool to yourself and a burden to others. Go grab a beer and give Shane Dye a bucketing for sitting 55 wide the whole way on some poor animal he thought was Veandercross in an earlier event instead - it's a much more rewarding experience.
I mean why bother? The STC's flagship event is nothing more than a two-year-old demolition derby where the greatest interest is in which lunatic is going to show no mercy from an outside gate and pole axe half the field by the 600m mark (one top jockey virtually made a career out of it). Most of the Slipper field disappears next season never to be heard of again and if the winner is any good it's off to play hide the sausage at stud within 12 months. So apart from the odd standout who wins with a leg in the air, it's an entirely forgettable event.
What's Going Down Around Town...
Which well known Australian racing official got his fingers badly burnt when a high flying stockbroker decided to jump out of a window in Hong Kong recently, taking all his dodgy and unrecoverable investments with him?
Is it true that Sydney SportsTAB has been getting its odds arse-up lately? Some smarties tell me they've been cleaning up on Super 12 Rugby games where SportsTAB post up the odds the wrong way around with the favourites set as the longshot and the longshots set as the favourites. No wonder TAB Ltd has been disappointing the mums and dads with dismal share prices lately.
On another struggling sport, which two Rugby League clubs can't pay their bills, have had their News Ltd cash drip turned off and are already financially dead in the water waiting to fold? I'll give you a hint, one of these clubs gets bailed out at least once a decade and renames its home ground every time it gets a new sponsor. Makes the decision to cut the grand South Sydney Rabbitohs all the more senseless.
Til next month punters.
Heard any hot goss? Then drop the Buster a line at: [email protected] Confidentiality guaranteed.
Interview: Rebuilding from the Rubble
Ramona Mitussis, APHEDA's co-ordinator in East Timor reports on how Australian workers are contributing to rebuilding a nation.
East Timor: UN Poseurs Delay Reconstruction
Returning to the Dili compound where he spent five days under siege, HT Lee finds an aid bureacracy out of control.
Unions: The Last Bank in Minto
"It's a busy branch", Carol Davison insists, watching the crowd gather around the Commonwealth Bank branch at Minto Mall. By the time you read this, the branch will be another empty shopfront, stripped of its fittings, with junk mail starting to accumulate under the front door.
International: Workers of the World Unite
ILO Director-General Juan Somavia's keynote address to the ICFTU Congress in Durban, South Africa this week.
Olympics: Strange Tenants
Rentwatchers lifts the lid on the legacy the 2000 Games will leave on Sydney's tenants.
Politics: The Loneliness Crisis
Lindsay Tanner looks at the politics of the soul that form the backdrop of many of our social ills.
History: Songs of Solidarity
Visiting US labour acadmeic John Lund has found a new way to digest history - he commits workers' struggles to song.
Satire: Seven Launches 'Popstars' Spin-off
On the heels of Popstars comes a new show taking five minor celebrities and turning them into normal people
Review: Keating's Engagement
Whether it's analysis or self-justification, Paul Keating's new book is an engaging read.
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