The Reform Plate.
#1
Believe it or not; this is truly shaping up to be a real battle.

Herewith - a running commentary; in one place, for your consideration. Think carefully before placing your hard earned - "K" is a crafty Bookie and GD the very best in the fine traditions of the 'Tic-Tac' man. Don't forget - the Bookie also has a serious interest in 'the results' and can set the odds to best suit.

Two bob on an each way is my own top limit - but then, I've seen the race before.

Well the old stove is warm, the Ale cooled to perfection, no work for me tomorrow and the 'lad' has a new keg on tap. I may just sit a spell, with my feet up and watch the flickering numbers on the tote board as the money comes to the betting ring. It is an art form, practiced for millennium.

Cheers "K".
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#2
"K" - The Reform Plate.

The entries for the Reform Plate hurdles marathon are starting to roll in – a long journey, big hurdles, muddy track and some serious contenders. The BRB decided to field a couple of runners, the trick was deciding which; so we had an Indaba….

It was a strange BRB indaba last evening; I only say strange because for once there was no ‘debate’. Usually there are at least two teams – often three when something is being discussed, the subject gets kicked around, thrashed out and a consensus reached. Not so this time – all on the same page and no dissent: changing the Act – and everyone nodding. Then some bright spark popped up with “OK – so what do we want changed?”

Dead silence for a beat. Then pandemonium; every thing from ‘burn the ducking thing’ to ‘only a word or two’ were ‘suggested’ as cures. So much for a quiet chat over a glass or two and a game of darts. P7 was in the chair and quickly brought the meeting to order (threatened to have the beer turned off). Eventually though a unanimous agreement was reached, on several topics, with surprisingly little fuss.

Even more surprising was the cost effective elegance and simplicity of the solution – I was impressed. So – FWIW and for the little good it will do, herewith – the BRB resolutions:-

Two changes to the Act. (i) Adopt either the UK (preferred) or the USA clauses which release CASA from the iron chains which bind them to ‘safety’ regardless of cost.

UK - “...provide air transport services which satisfy... public demand at the lowest charges consistent with a high standard of safety... and an economic return to efficient operators... ” British CAA Act (2012)

Our CASA is bound hand and foot by the risible

CASA must seek to achieve the highest level of safety in air
navigation that is consistent with:

This statement must be struck out, by doing this it will allow CASA some wriggle room to draft sensible regulations which achieve the same ‘efficiency’, safety and ease of compliance both the UK and the USA enjoy.

Secondly – the Act should allow Australia to adopt the NZ regulations or even the USA systems. Those rules have produced a fine ‘safety’ record and assisted an industry to flourish. Australia has spent almost half a Billion over thirty odd years on reformed regulation and has not only failed to improve ‘safety’ but strangled an industry in the process.

There was an objection or two to this proposal – based on implementation. P7 came up with the solution and the objections dissipated. A simple two step plan which would, within 18 months see the industry enjoying the benefits and massive saving under a clean, concise, compliance friendly rule set. (i) Tell the industry that the NZ regulations will be in force 2020. (ii) Allow a 12 month to prepare revised expositions; train CASA staff during this period to the new rule set – then use the following half year to have the expositions approved. Sure, everyone will be flat out, but it is do-able. Must be done if matters aeronautical are to improve. Once it is done – another twelve month will see the loose ends tucked away – tidy and the system running as smoothly as it ever does.

Item next was ministerial ‘responsibility’. Unanimous – CASA cannot and must not be allowed to operate without supervision, that has been a disastrous experiment. It is imperative that CASA be accountable and responsible for their actions and the massive amounts of money they plough their way through. Control, checks and balances - either the Senate RRAT committee or the minister; two choices, no options.  

A big ticket item was the decriminalization of the regulations and removal of strict liability. This is an essential item. The department (CASA) elected to make the regulations so; this was not a legal obligation, but their choice. There are clearly defined guidelines for deciding what is ‘criminal’ or 'serious' and what is not. There are many ‘strict liability’ offences which may be successfully defended- if the option was there. It is not. Simple things – like pilot log books. Many, myself included keep a small pocket diary to jot down flight and duty times, these transcribed into the log book once home after a tour of duty, when convenient. This constitutes a criminal offence of strict liability and a criminal record. Discussion of this topic inevitably led to the despised ‘Enforcement manual’ and the CASA ‘Ethics committee’. If ever a minister or a Senator wanted to understand why CASA is distrusted, disliked and disrespected – take a look at the preface to the EM then examine some of the Ethics committee decisions – it will disgust them as much it does industry. A shoddy, unworthy disgrace to this county? 100% agreement.

Those were the major points  covered. There was a strong call for industry expertise to replace the often stumbling, fumbling antics and pipe dreams of those who ‘work’ (and I use the term loosely) for the ‘authority’. This would be a fine thing and the ministers name would go down in aviation legend as the man who saved an industry; jobs, revenue, national pride and the sanity of those involved in matters aeronautical.

That’s it (abridged version) from the BRB/IOS indaba – it usually takes a day or two for the e-mail returns to come back from the various loops; but, my short priced favourite is ‘Total support’ with Self Interest and Dissenters out of the running. Aye, place your bet here minister – I’ll take your money; then I’ll use it to buy an air ticket for whichever of your political opponents decides a trip to Wagga will score the most points and make you look disinterested and gutless. Hey, maybe Barnaby will come along – now that would be nice.

Toot - toot.
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#3
"K" - The Reform Plate. A punters guide:-

There is a little while to go before ‘they’re off’ in the fifth running of Reform Plate. For those not familiar with such events, while we wait, AP will provide a little background and after the commercial breaks – present a list of entries. There will additional entrants of course – and not every training stable will want the punters to know which of their runners will be starting. This is in the purest traditions of these events, it allows much manipulation of the Tote odds – both post and ante. It is a fiddle, no doubt about it – but, in these events it is embraced as ‘de rigueur’.

For those who have never experienced one of these events (only one per decade) and never had a wee flutter on a personal favourite; I shall (with your indulgence) explain a little of the history, the race itself, the rules; and, as they come to hand, the entrants and stable tactics. The Tote odds change by the minute so be careful, as the setting of odds is a black art and purely at the whim of the Bookie.


[Image: 1c35f815e41a589db3d71a8d341714fe.jpg]

And so; to history. The Reform Plate holds the record for the most cancellations, along with the trophy for the most disputed finishes in the history of racing. It is a fact that the event has been cancelled (for various reasons) 24 more times than it has been run. You can actually place a bet on whether this race will actually happen; the odds will be posted on the tote in due course. Of all the events in which the QANGO stables compete; this is known as the toughest, dirtiest, dangerous and most diabolical race of all – there are literally no rules: well none which are paid mind to anyway. There are supposed to be, however as this is essentially a ‘government’ sponsored event – no one really knows what the latest rule set will be until after the race – first across the line ain’t necessarily ‘the winner’. The ‘finishing line’ is decided at ministerial discretion; therefore infinitely moveable. As I said – be careful what you bet on – there are no guarantees of fair play or a finish – ‘on the line’.

As you may have gathered, there are no real rules and some of the tactics employed before, during and after the race have shocked even case hardened, experienced watchers and punters of similar events. Even extreme measures, like placing a 24 hour guard on a potential entrant have not prevented runners disappearing or refusing at the last moment to participate; handlers are bribed and/or seduced, persuaded (or pressured) to look the other way. To state that it is no mean feat to ever get your favourite to the starting line is not an exaggerated claim. The race statistics clearly show that at least one in three are ‘withdrawn’ or removed from the betting boards. Removing the competition, before the race begins is a time honoured tradition – As I said – be careful what you bet on – there are no refunds on a non starter. You get a refund on a late starter however – just because it actually got to the line.

Another of the great traditions is the preparation of the fences (hurdles). These are always, without fail, both moveable and camouflaged, not to mention lethal. Many a leading entrant has been carried off on a wagon, fooled by a subtlety moved obstacle. One infamous ‘accident' was engineered by a ministerial advisory team – even the race committee barred the use of it after much long, heated debate. The ‘pop up fence’. ‘Tis true. Once, a few races back, a non departmental entry was streets ahead, leading the pack as it approached the ‘hairpin’ turn which reverses the track back toward the grand stand. – Whammo – up popped a very solid, very high fence – just long enough to fell the leading horse and disappearing just before the pack turned up. That entrant was never seen again after that, retired to be a recluse in some gods forsaken corner of a remote island…As I said – be careful what you bet on – there are no guarantees that even if your pick gets to the starting line that it will actually see the finish – not stars.

The punter must also make allowance for variable – at committee discretion – track conditions; it can be anywhere from lightning fast to hock deep gluey mud – depends who is advising the minister on race control – or trying to. The ministerial problem is non of our concern – unless you have bet ‘the business’ on the race and want to ‘influence’ the outcome. If you have, then you have a problem: a big one. You see ministers are cosseted in a glass box, far from the madding crowd, for a start – secondly there is always a pass required to ascend the plush, carpeted stairs to the waiting room (that always costs a significant plenty) – and be warned – folk have died of old age and dementia waiting, the long wait to get through to the lowest intern advisor, the one in charge of peanut butter export. Should you manage to escape the madness of the waiting room, then there are the parliamentary version of ‘the Dementors’. Those who guarded Askaban prison before Voldemort bought the farm. They ferociously guard the ministerial rump and exercise a weird type of mind control. So: even if you get through that crew – you still have to deal with what is, essentially, a glove puppet. But, for the asking price of $5000 you can actually have a second rate chicken dinner in the same room – everything is for sale – particularly the upcoming event outcome. Who knows; you may even get a platitude or two spoken – but the bet remains at your very own hazard. …As I said – be careful what you bet on – there are no guarantees that even if you reach the minister your entry will even get on the track – never mind around it. (You may also bet on this – good odds for those even trying to get a runner actually in the race)…

Well, that about covers the basics of the event – it’s a hard race, a long race and no guarantee of finishing let alone winning. The field is nowhere near set; but there are some early entrants and the Ante post book is open.…As I said – be careful what you bet on – there are no guarantees that the field will remain so – the dreaded departments have not declared any runners yet and the odds can change in a heartbeat. No matter, for your consideration: the field:- (so far).

Status Quo; Gelding 20 y.o. Out of Departmental Dysfunction by Total Apathy.  30 starts, no losses, total winnings over $400, 000,000. This is a ‘protected’ animal and the conditions will be altered to suit the entrants current form. The race rules and conditions are always, without fail, designed to suit the top weight favourite. With ministerial assistance, this old, slow, often confused runner always wins every event it is entered into. Short red odds forecast bet 20 to win 1 – odds on - against the punters money.  

Bull at a Gate – Rig 6 y.o. Out of Nowhere by Head Butt. In horse parlance a ‘rig’ was a once horse, but rather than being fully gelded, the ‘proud stones; are left in place. Noisy and troublesome as a whole horse – but uncertain of what it can – or cannot do. It thinks it can and wants to – alas; the spirit is willing but…. Anyway, FWIW you can win 16 for every one invested on this runner – provided the jockey can keep it off the rails, on the right track and not running up the rear end of it’s stable mates trying to help. One wins you a hundred the win - Bet 5 to win two back for it finishing last, (unless it runs to instructions).

Dissenters  - Mare. Out of Pure Spite by Argumentative. Born, bred and brought in from the land of champagne tastes and a beer budgets. Famed for an interesting turn of speed when the CASA entrant is around, unwilling to break with the trainers instructions to let the CASA entry go past. It will however endeavour, through various biting and kicking tactics, try to ‘shepherd’ the CASA geldings through the hoops and onto the fairway – to ensure it gets a clean run to a place. Crafty owners always make sure the mare is in the pictures at the finish. Each way bet at win 4 for 1 - the place.  

Self Interest: Horse; out of Rampant Greed by Inflated Ego -a big dark animal, certainly border line size for racing. Punters must take extreme care before betting a win or place for this entry; the owners can and will instruct the rider to act ‘as directed’, particularly when there is more money to be made by loosing than winning. The fickle nature and venality of the connections are reflected in the form guide; and the interference tactics used in past races have shocked even the connections. Safe each way bet at 4/1 to create the most havoc during the race. 10/1 the win – 6/1 the place - and good luck with that one….

Gender Confused; Out of Yellow Canary by Cover Up. No one is quite sure what this entrant ‘thinks’ it is. It is a gelded horse – however, in temperament, it will happily hunt with hounds Monday and run with the Hares on Tuesday – the trainer reckons it depends on which way the wind is blowing. ‘It’ may support one entrant throughout most of the journey, then, at a crucial stage turn and savage the same to allow another through a gap. As, on form at least, it has never really ‘won’ a race the Tote is offering win 20 for one bet a place; 40 to one bet the win..

Grand Pooh-Bar: Gelding out of Political Need by Misdirection. This is the ministerial advisors entrant. There is absolutely no value in placing a wager on this entrant. The best value money the Bookie dare offer is a side bet that no mud will show on the animal as it prances, poses and preens around the winners enclosure. As sponsored entrants are allowed to take full advantage of ‘team’ support and usually amble along behind the pack until they stroll, un muddied or bloodied near to a winners parking spot; the best offer on the Tote is you need to bet 50 to win one for a place.

Tribal War: Mare; out of Internal politics by Self interest. Not a great option for the punter; more often than not, the mare fails to finish anywhere near the front – last outing, the Vet was called in with a tranquilizing gun, to break up the brawl between TW and stablemate Self Interest – it took four men, two trank darts, and 20 metres of stout rope to part the brawling animals; the Vet bills were truly astonishing. No doubt the Stewards will allow both into the race – again – as they quite often help the ministerial entry.

Fence Sitter – Filly; out of Don’t Rock the Boat by Back a Winner. This entry is a Bookies nightmare to lay odds for. Opportunistic tactics muddy the betting as the owners instructions are always the same; stay back, stay out of the ruck, snipe at the competition when the chance presents and then sneak home as close to the leaders as possible – but always follow the winner home. So, dear Punter you can see the perils and opportunities. You will need to bet 50 to win one for a ‘place’ ; One will net you 100 for a win (odds subject to change without notice).

There is still a while to wait for all the entries to arrive; race day is approaching so there will be an update from track side following soon. This outing promises to be a strange, but interesting affair. Always is when the rules are unclear, subject to ministerial whim and his ‘advice’. The long and bloody history of the Reform plate is the stuff of myth and legend. Many a sound, solid, honest entrant has been carted off the Knackers yard, damaged beyond hope of repair after this event. If you thought that chariot races in the Roman arenas were a brutal, bloody affair – then as my American friends say – Buddy, Ya ain’t seen nuttin’ yet.

Toot toot.

I’m going to wish I’d never started this ain’t I – Heigh ho, it beats knitting.
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#4
"K" - Reform Plate – Form guide.

Well; as stated, I’m going to wish I’d never started this ain’t I. One of my small problems is the accidental punter – every big race attracts folk who have never, ever been to a race course, let alone had a wee flutter; but, an important race, like the Reform Plate brings ‘em out, by the bus load. One of the most often asked questions is why is GD stood on a box behind the tote board, wearing white gloves and waving his hands about like a demented  octopus?  Explanation follows directly:-





Recap – “There is still a while to wait for all the entries to arrive; race day is approaching so there will be an update from track side following soon. This outing promises to be a strange, but interesting affair. Always is when the rules are unclear, subject to ministerial whim and his ‘advice’. The long and bloody history of the Reform plate is the stuff of myth and legend. Many a sound, solid, honest entrant has been carted off the Knackers yard, damaged beyond hope of repair after this event. If you thought that chariot races in the Roman arenas were a brutal, bloody affair – then as my American friends say – Buddy, Ya ain’t seen nuttin’ yet.”

Latest entries:-

As race day approaches, just before the cut off date, we will see the last minute runners. To a Bookie, this is always a problem; the proverbial dark horse and the odd ring-in turning up at ten to midnight, slipping the paper work under the door with the entry fee – all legal of course. So, we are never sure of the final line up until the ‘official’ programme is published. No matter, we shall do what we can, with what we have confirmed.

Nice and Easy: Horse; out of Labor in Vain by Stopped Short. The odds are shortening by the day on this quality entry, a strong runner in almost any conditions and big enough to withstand the on track rough and tumble. It is going to be lack of on track support which makes setting the odds difficult. As you may have gathered, this is a difficult race for the unaligned entry and often, those with no chance of a win out of sheer spite will ‘interfere’ with a straight run. I’ve set the board for value at each way 4/1 win or place. Caution; if this entry teams up with some of the better entries, it may well end with  the more fancied runners spread against the barriers; and, given a clear look at the finish line; there could be an upset win. MTF as the field firms.

Visiting Fireman; Gelding; by Welcome Stranger out of Far Away. One of an expected contingent from off shore interests. These will be interesting entries as winning is not a priority for these expert support runners. Their connections are appalled at the shocking lack of real rules attending this event and have determined to send at least two real champion runners to assist in the melee. 40/1 the win, 20/1 the place – bet 5 to win two for the best support effort.

City Express: Mare; out of Virgin Bride by Odd Duck. Impossible to set odds as it is unclear whether the big end of town connection are interested in the event. Should they decide that the game is worth the candle and see some dollar value in winning, then we may yet see them enter. A bookies nightmare if they do, their combined resources and on track power could see a clear team win – we shall see; MTF as P2 would say….

Unholy Union: Gelding; out of Loggerheads by Make a Deal. This stable has, in past events produced some first class entries to big races. That said, there is never any certainty that they will field an entry. Should the connections see an advantage to weighing in behind industry runners, they could tip the balance against the odds of an establishment win. This is just one of the last minute, midnight entries which create headaches for poor old Bookmakers. No help for it, just have wait and see on the day.

Miniscule Mike: Gelding; out of Confounded by Clueless. Totally owned and operated by establishment interests. The connections of this expensive, cosseted entry have used all manner of hoodoo and a little voodoo to ensure that animal is completely biddable and utterly reliable whenever they decide to race. The horse is totally useless on its own; but with the support entries creating havoc ahead, all it needs to do is amble around behind the pack, step around the carnage and stroll home. We have seen races finish where MM has been half a furlong behind the running while his team mates have pulled up to a dead stop four strides before the tape to allow MM to take the Plate and steal the glory, while the carcasses are being dragged off to the knackers yard. Bet 20 to win one the place.

That’s about it from the Bookies cave; more to follow as a clearer picture emerges from the smoke and mirrors. Did you ever go to a race track and have a punt? Take moment to get ‘the vibe’.





Toot toot.
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#5
UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE

The location for the big race is to be shifted. Many options were considered - Lockhart River, Norfolk Island, Essendon Fields, The Circuit Brisbane Airport, until finally Bankstown Airport was chosen. A very quiet field where just the hum of air conditioners in the buildings that closely sit near the field along with the smell of cooked dim sims graces the air. However some concerns were made about the track condition as when it is wet there is a plethora of toxic chemicals that boil to the surface making the horses hooves burn. Other airports were considered but PFOS affects the horses coats.

Meanwhile, the pot of money sits at around $300m. A robust pot of taxpayer money to date has been taken and it is estimated that many many more millions will flow through the turnstiles before they are off and racing....

Nay Nay
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#6
More, from the horses (a) – (b). Tick one.

As race day draws near, getting information becomes part of a Bookies nightmare. Trainers, jockeys, stable lads, farriers, strappers and even the stable cat, all close ranks, under instructions to keep schtum. Touts and Journo’s become the enemy, stable pride and money invested serve as incentive. There are however, for the close observer, always little signs and indications of how things stand; you need to pay close attention – but the ‘tells’ are there and a smart Bookie will heed those small, tell-tale signs..

There are some entries which have neither the staying power or capability of winning a big race. They simply don’t see the ‘big picture’ or realize that there are better benefits to be had by assisting the top weight industry runners. This in hope of short term gains, ego stroking and a fear of breaking an alliance with some of the darker entrants. For instance -

Self Interest: Horse; out of Rampant Greed by Inflated Ego -a big dark animal, certainly border line size for racing. Punters must take extreme care before betting a win or place for this entry; the owners can and will instruct the rider to act ‘as directed’, particularly when there is more money to be made by loosing than winning. The fickle nature and venality of the connections are reflected in the form guide; and the interference tactics used in past races have shocked even the connections. Safe each way bet at 4/1 to create the most havoc during the race. 10/1 the win – 6/1 the place - and good luck with that one….

Fear, greed and a dreadful case of short-sight makes betting on this entry almost impossible. I would take a side bet on the horse taking up a comfortable position behind the front runners, then making a charge over the last two furlongs to assist whichever entry looks like winning. This certainly guarantees a seat at the winners table after the event. For that small moment in the sun, the bill is paid by integrity and the loss of trust, by both the winners and loser’s. How could anyone possibly rely on such motivation? 5/4 odds on the place – 100/1 the win; and, I will take your money.

There are some honest runners worthy of consideration; for example:-

Dissenters  - Mare. Out of Pure Spite by Argumentative. Born, bred and brought in from the land of champagne tastes and a beer budgets. Famed for an interesting turn of speed when the CASA entrant is around, unwilling to break with the trainers instructions to let the CASA entry go past. It will however endeavour, through various biting and kicking tactics, try to ‘shepherd’ the CASA geldings through the hoops and onto the fairway – to ensure it gets a clean run to a place. Crafty owners always make sure the mare is in the pictures at the finish. Each way bet at win 4 for 1 - the place.

“Only democratic” say the connections; they are of a small group which actually support the banning of the Reform Plate race. “No reform required” the system is running well and certainly serves the Gods of ‘Safety’ very well. A difficult entry to lay odds for – it all depends on how the connections see the future of the industry being served best – by their lights. If the entry runs honestly the each-way flutter may show a return; history is against this – but as GD says – You pays your money and takes your pick……….

Anyway – the tote board is just about set for ante-post betting and I’ll let it stand as is. Next update from track side when we get see the entries paraded around the saddling paddock and watch trainers giving final instructions to the jockeys. Betting closes at ‘the off’. Keep an eye out for GD as Tic-Tac and P2 as the bagman; we have a modest stand in the betting ring – slightly to the right of the Genghis Khan tent; directly in front of the Baptist revival tambourine band.

Toot – toot.
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