The Pickering Post
Thursday, 14th December 2017

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A MELBOURNE CUP BLAST FROM THE PAST

Larry Pickering

Four-time Walkley Award winning political commentator and Churchill Fellow, has returned to the fray over concern that the integrity of news dissemination is continually being threatened by a partisan media.

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I battled with another bidder at Inglis sales to secure an ordinary looking yearling for a measly $7,000. "Why would you want that horse?", the other bidder asked. "To win the Melbourne Cup with", I replied.

Winning the Melbourne Cup and playing for Fitzroy in a Premiership were my boyhood dreams. I played for Richmond and nowhere near a premiership... but I had one dream left.

Rising Fear was that horse. We called him Tojo, as a stable name.
I took him home and broke him in.

He had won a string of good Sydney races and I was now certain he could win the Melbourne Cup.

I had spent months training him to pick up a replica of the Melbourne Cup in his teeth. Then, he would replace the Cup on the table and bow. Tojo was a willing learner... for him it broke the boredom of stable life.

When I hopped on him he would prance and kick. When I put my 3yo son on him he would tippy toe around the front lawn, stopping to jerk him back into the centre of his back. Tojo was no oil painting but he was special.

I took him to the Brisbane carnival and he came home with the O'Shea Stakes, a 2nd in the QLD Derby and a 3rd in the 2-mile Brisbane Cup all in ten days.

He was a tough 3yo now and had qualified for a start in the 2 mile Melbourne Cup.

We picked up the Colin Stephens Quality Hcp at Randwick, a 2nd in the NSW Derby and off in a plane to Melbourne.

Now to take on the international horses in the big one.

I had ridden him in most of his track work and stayed most nights in the stable with him when interstate. He would fret in a strange place.

Now he was as ready as I could get him. Carrying my weight in all his track work made the weight of the jockey feel like a feather.

He was rock-hard fit but fresh from sand dune work and long swims in the ocean at Terrigal. He lit up when he saw the expanse of a verdant track.

He had pipe-opener on the Saturday in the Dalgetty, running home nicely for 6th.

He was now cherry ripe for the big one.

I had engaged Malcolm Johnson, as he had already won on the horse and knew him well.

On the Sunday, Malcolm rang me to say he was going back to Sydney as he had a full book with Doc. Chapman on the Tuesday. "Shit, shit, shit, shit!"

I got hold of the only unengaged rider left I knew, Bob Skelton the trouble was he was a Kiwi and I didn't like Kiwis much, especially Kiwi jockeys.

He agreed to ride my horse.

"I want you to come down to Mornington and run him up the last 400m on Tuesday morning" I said to Bob. "I need you to get the feel of him." Bob did let him run home the last four, hard held, through the Mornington mist.

Bob dismounted, "This horse will sprint, Larry", he told me. My heart sank. I knew he wouldn't, he couldn't. He was a dour one-paced stayer. He would win the Melbourne Cup if he was allowed to bowl along in front at his own pace.

But how does a cartoonist explain anything equine to a Kiwi jockey, I berated Bob and told him to forget all about this sprinting crap.

I rang Singo and told him to catch the next plane to Melbourne. "We're bringin home the Melbourne Cup, mate!"

I knew there was not a horse in the world that could beat him over two miles that day.

I had spent two years training him for just this one race, but only one day training a jockey to ride him.

Singo was on the next plane with his pockets full of cash.
Rising Fear stayed a firm 50/1 in the ring.

I legged up Skelton with deadly serious instructions. I looked him straight in his two little glassy goanna eyes: "Take him to the front after the end of the straight, let him bowl along, balanced. At the 800 drop your hands and let him do it all by himself, do not hit 'im! He knows what to do."

"Ok Larry, mate", I could hear him thinking: "What would he know about a horse?"

He trotted out on to the track to greet a 90,000 screaming crowd. I could see Tojo coming back to scale and me pressing my thumb into his nearside foreleg muscle. That was his signal. He would pick up the Cup in his teeth and raise it high in the air. The photo would be rocketed around the world in an instant.

My son and stable-foreman, Jamie, Singo and I climbed the stairs to our seats.

We were sitting a good 100 metres back from the winning post. The whole place reeked of tradition, and importance.

Phar Lap had graced this track. Some of the other great horses I remembered seeing as a kid, selling racebooks at Caulfield, had raced into history on this same Flemington turf with honor and bravery.

When the barriers opened the roar was deafening.
By the end of the straight Skelton eased him out from 7th position, took him around the field and settled him beautifully into the lead, keen but relaxed.

He led the huge field up the back and around the far turn. He was still beautifully balanced with his ears pricked and still relaxed at the mile.

Tojo loved a big race and you could see him enjoying every metre of it. At the 800m Skelton had not dropped his hands but I wasn't too worried. Tojo was fit and he would run the two mile right out.

They were on the home turn and he was still leading by three lengths. I looked back and they were starting to struggle behind him.

They straightened at the 400m and he was still in front by three lengths with plenty in the tank but now I could see the soles of Skelton's fucking boots. He was still swinging on his mouth.

"Faaark! That bastard still thinks he will sprint!" I muttered. Tojo clearly had plenty of petrol in the tank but Skelton was refusing to let him go! He was convinced in his thick little head that he would explode at his command.

I instinctively stood up "Let 'im go you fuckin' idiot", I screamed. "Let 'im go, he can't be beat, let 'im go!"

With 300m to go he was still in front with nothing gaining when out of the pack came the pride of the Arabs, At Alaq.

I knew At Alaq well, he was the only horse I was remotely scared of. He had a very short sprint. He raced two lengths past the hard-held Tojo. My idiot jockey now decided to let Tojo go.

He didn't sprint. He couldn't, because he can't.

With his one even pace, he slowly set off after At Alaq with barely 150m left and with Skelton pointlessly belting the shit out of him.

He regained the two lengths on At Alaq who was predictably weakening.

Skelton ran him right up the rump of At Alaq. It appeared to be in slow motion, there was a sort of silence above the roar. Then Skelton reefed him out to get around At Alaq and had to get him re-balanced all over again.

Even at the end of two miles Tojo, who had been headed by two lengths, slowly wore down that horse inch by inch. He had the strength to come again and that just simply doesn't happen for a horse at the end of two miles.

He was gaining every stride. The post loomed. One length, half a length, a neck. Within 10 metres of the post, I watched him lunge at At Alaq with every ounce of strength remaining in his brave, exhausted body. The crowd erupted.

Tommy Smith, sitting 4 or 5 seats along, jumped in the air, he stuck his head out from the line of people and looked at me, his hands high, "You've won Larry!"

Singo stood up shocked.

Jamie put an arm around my neck... "We've won Dad!"
I thought how happy my family would have been at home watching on TV.

But I wasn't sure. We were a long way from the post and the photo judge was taking what seemed like an hour and anyway how could he possibly have won when that little Kiwi had done just about everything possible to ensure he couldn't.

The photo showed Tojo had lost the Melbourne Cup when he should have won by at least two lengths. When he returned to scale, Skelton refused to look at me, he knew he had cost us the Cup.

I got a $quarter mil. for second and another $quarter mil. in bets.

Christ knows what Singo won. He had trifectas and quinellas every which way but he reckoned if Tojo had won it would have been a collect of about $5 mil. (maybe $15 mil in today's money)

The money didn't matter, the Melbourne Cup did. Still does.

Here's the finish:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rnvsyapzYo8



Comments

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Good luck

My Mother used to own and train trotters in the 40/50's but being a women she wasn't allowed on the track even though she won in the trials so she had to employ male drivers and she instructed them not to use the whip because some man had flogged her Don at an early age he would break on the track so what do they do , they did exactly what that Skelton did and ignored her orders from the very person like Larry who treated their horses with love and kindness and respect and who better to know what makes their horses tick ,but no say the dickhead male drivers who would proclaim that the horse needed a good flogging to be put in their place.

From the very first time that I read this story, I have watched the race 4 times. There is no doubt that what you say is true Larry. Unfortunately Skelton is like many other jockeys who get so full of themselves, they believe that they know better than the trainer. Rising Fast was a certainty beaten. He was going two to At Talac's one at the post.

We took a horse to the Karaka Millions (Auckland) in 2010 and engage the best NZ jockey who we figured would know the Ellerslie track better than our Australian jockey. He did what Skelton did to your horse and we came second. We took another horse to Karaka Millions this year and took our Australian jockey and won this time!

Gripping story, and more so because it really happened. The jockey was the weak link, some people just won't be told. As an aside, whenever I saw that name R. Skelton on a race card it always reminded of the great American comedian Red Skelton. Now I see that this particular Skelton brought forth tears rather than laughter.

Larry you're a legend . Great story , you keep on surprising me with your depth of life experience and your incredible word skills. Keep up the great work .

Empty vessels do indeed make the most sound... I prefer a Stoney silence.

Talk about self incrimination. Every time stoney opens his mouth a fool makes a noise.

This type of stupidity is akin to an infection of crabs in the groin area of PP. Stop scratching and visit the pharmacy.

Great yarn. Utmost admiration as I never knew you trained horses let alone rode trackwork

here better correct the spelling before the school teachers come along:Have some more cheese with the whine there osarbtcg,either or stop digging a deeper hole,you seem to think you know all, maybe you do, you know stuff all really, about 3/5ths of 5/8ths of SFA, now which member of the Tribe are you, bloody cyclops you turn out to be by having a one eyed view of anything that detracts from the line of BS from a few here working the Hasbarat propaganda machine,not all are sheep like you are

Have some more cheese with the whine there osarbtcg,either or stop digging a deeper hole,you seem to think you know all, maybe you do, you know stuff all really, about 3/5ths of 5/8ths of SFA, now which member of the Tribe are you, bloody cyclops you turn out to be by having a one eyed view of anything that detracts from the line of BS from a few hear working the Hasbarat propaganda machine,not all are sheep like you are

Rod Liddle The Spectator 24/10/15....."A largely Muslim charity recently reviewed the work its people had been doing to relieve the misery and squalor on the Sangatte refugee camp in Calais. A worker with the Human Relief Foundation visited the notorious "jungle' encampment and concluded, with some alarm, that 97 % were economic refugees. Further they were almost exclusively fit young men who were not fleeing danger at all and were not in the least desperate".......PP blogger this comes as no lightening bolt of enlightenment to Winston.

Bloody hell,one would think that when digging a hole,you stop before the spill falls back on oneself, toss a frog into boiling water and it will bail out, but slowly bring the frog and water to the boil and you end up with a cooked frog,a few here need to take heed

OT, from Their ALPBC website....Three quarters of Australians believe climate change is real; views on cause correspond with world view, voting patterns: CSIRO report....BUT, YES LOOK AT THE VOTING TRENDS..more ABC tripe.... .Fifty-nine per cent of Labor voters believed climate change was caused by humans, compared to 28 per cent of Liberal supporters.

Twenty-two per cent of Nationals voters agreed, compared to 76 per cent of those who support the Greens.

Yes, I was one of the dismissive men that quickly wrote off the #19 horse with the only female jockey in the Big Race today.
I reached this conclusion because on every previous occasion inclusions of females in male industries tend to ‘appeasement’ and ‘equality’ without any corresponding results.
Upon Michelle Payne’s outstanding result I hereby officially admit and renounce my previous prejudice, and I hope we all join in and celebrate Michelle Payne’s magnificent victory.
Forthwith I shall give no advantage to male or female jockeys.
And demand equal performance from both genders without anymore discussions of equality bias.

SMH bagging GG Cosgroves speech at the Melbourne Cup.....bells are now ringing...Tony Abbott's choice for GG of Australia Michael Cosgrove now on Turnbulls destroy by media ridicule hit list as the precursor to Turnbull replacing him with a Turnbull ally. You have been warned....wonder what Turnbulls timeline is for ousting General Gosgrove....6 months, 3 months, 6 weeks. First shots fired today at the Melbourne Cup...to bring down the Governor General....assasination by media....same as Tony Abbott.

Very interesting Red. A good post, without doom & despair. Thank You

It's 10:30 , all the children should be in bed, and it's Melbourne Cup Day - time for a horse joke !

A bloke calls his mate, the horse breeder, and says he's sending a friend over to look at a horse. The breeder asks, ''How will I know he's your friend ? '' The bloke replys "That's easy; he's a dwarf with a speech impediment." So, the dwarf shows up, and the breeder asks him if he's looking for a male or a female horse.

" A female horth "

So he shows him a prized filly.

" Nith lookin horth. Can I thee her eyeth ? "

So the breeder picks up the dwarf and he gives the horse's eyes the once over.

"Nith eyeth, can I thee her earzth ? "

So he picks the little fella up again, and shows him the horse's ears.

" Nith earzth, can I thee her mouf ? "

The breeder is getting pretty ticked off by this point, but he picks him up again and shows him the horse's mouth.

" Nice mouf, can I see her twat ? "

Totally mad at this point, the breeder grabs him under his arms and rams the dwarf's head up the horse's pussy, pulls him out and slams him on the ground.

The midget gets up, sputtering and coughing.

"Perhapth I should rephrase that. Can I thee her wun awound a widdlebit ? "

https://au.news.yahoo.com/a/29987258/fireworks-at-senate-halal-certification-inquiry/

There is new pressure on the federal government to regulate halal products as a Senate inquiry hears officials demanded bribes for certification.

The controversial inquiry reached a flashpoint today.

South Australian Senator Cory Bernardi said there were questions about what happened to the money paid for certification.

“Anti-Muslim groups got involved in the thing and saw it as a platform to attack the Muslim community,” Abdul Ayam from AusHalal told Senator Bernardi.

“Aren’t you close to those groups?”
The Senator responded: “What you’re telling me is the Muslim community has decided to boycott this inquiry because … they don’t like some of the people we’re seeking to take evidence from, people who have a differing point of view from them.”

The inquiry aims to get to the bottom of halal certification and who benefits financially.

Senator Bernardi referred to a court affidavit from Ikebal Patel, the former president of Australia’s Federation of Islamic Councils.

He swore Indonesian Muslim Authorities “offered to secure halal certifying rights by paying a bribe.”