The Armchair Punter worries the tall poppy syndrome is coming for Winx

Stephen Brassel - Wednesday September 6

I’m questioning whether the tall poppy syndrome is starting to kick in with Winx while suggesting those who jumped off Spieth following his defeat at Randwick on Saturday may be advised to have a little rethink.

Is the tall poppy syndrome finally kicking in with Winx?


After the Chelmsford Stakes win on Saturday made it 19-straight for Winx I’m just starting to wonder whether the famous Australian tall-poppy syndrome has started to kick in with the champion mare.

I was watching with a mate who didn’t even have a bet in the race and he was out of his chair cheering for Red Excitement over the last 200m. I couldn’t believe it, why?

"I don’t really know but I just wanted to see her get beat,” was his reply.

There has also been some negative feedback by a few Racenet regulars and also via other online forums, which I just can’t believe.

She’s a champion and she hasn’t been beaten for over two years. She beats whatever gets thrown at her, be them superstars or slugs. Isn’t that all she can do?

Red Excitement did a fantastic job on Saturday, courtesy of a brilliant front-running ride by Josh Parr but Winx was still able to get home in splits of 10.98, 11.08 and 10.80 for an overall last 600m of 33.10. I ask you again more can she do?

And don’t forget Hughie Bowman dropped his whip at the 200m, not that he every really needs it on the great mare.


Despite being beaten for the second time since joining the Chris Waller stable the "new” Tom Melbourne looks a completely different horse and it seems we can now bet with a fair bit of confidence on the gelding.

After being a tragedy beaten first-up he was again outstanding in defeat at Randwick on Saturday and arguable should be unbeaten since making Sydney his home.

In the Tramway he over-raced then had to endure a wide run with no cover throughout before dashing clear on topping the rise only to be run down by Happy Clapper, which is certainly no disgrace.

Tommy is tickling along beautifully for a race like the Epsom Handicap and is currently $11 third favourite with Sportsbet.

Wide throughout, there can be no denying the run of Tom Melbourne was outstanding.


I might be stating the bleeding obvious but it’s becoming an all too regular scenario for poor Craig Williams. One minute the hero, next minute the villain.

He’s copped the wrath of punters in recent weeks over a few well backed runners who have had little luck before coming out later in the day and getting his mojo back for those who still had petrol in the tank to stick solid with the champion hoop.

Saturday at Caulfield was just another roller-coaster ride for both Craig and his followers with Trekking ($3.80) and Tally ($6.50) both well backed second favourites missing the placings.

However the real stinger came with $1.80 hot-pot Fuhryk who had absolutely no chance the way things turned out in the fifth event while a race later $2 favourite Sheidel folded up under Craig to also miss the placings behind Voodoo Lad.

Of course, he saluted with Vega Magic ($2.30) in the Memsie and closed the day by lifting Grande Rosso ($4) over the line but they didn’t help those who had bottomed out early with Fuhryk backing her from as much as $3.60 when prices first went up into the odds-on quote while Sheidel was $3.70 into $2 although there were a few scratchings involved there.


Saturday was a real feel good day for Pat Webster and Josh Adams with the two combining to take out an emotional Tramway Stakes at Randwick.

Josh only recently returned to the saddle after a few years off, fighting his demons but he has quickly got back into the scheme of things with a string of winners however there have also been a few non-winners which have conspired to haunt his comeback journey.

And so it was, less than 24 hours after winning the Tramway, Josh was again in strife on a loser.

Two weeks back Josh nearly went over the fence aboard a long odds-on favourite in a race at Muswellbrook then a day later copped a slap on the wrist suspension for not riding one out to the line and missing third placing at Warwick Farm.

I highlighted those two races in last week’s column wishing Josh better luck when he partnered Happy Clapper. Everything went right on Saturday but it all came to a shuddering halt at Moree on Sunday.

Aboard the odds-on favourite Magic Ray in the second race, Josh was, as they say "home and hosed” when he eased the horse up 100m short of the line only to be caught napping and overhauled in the shadows of the post.

This time stewards weren’t as lenient as they were at Warwick Farm giving him a six-week suspension meaning his association with Happy Clapper seems to be all but over for the spring.

You can’t help but feel sorry for Josh but the reality is I feel much sorrier for those who backed Magic Ray, it was shocking with a capital S.

Watching the race all you can say is "look in the rear vision mirror Josh" … NOOOO!


Apart from the way the race was run, chasing a sizzling last sectional by Redzel (last 600m in 32.63) in the Concorde Stakes we should probably cut Spieth a bit of slack as it seems he did have a few minor excuses on the day.

Stewards reported;

1) He was slow to begin and was crowded shortly after

2) He raced keenly in the middle stages

3) He was inclined to lay out approaching the home turn

4) He was inclined to lay in over the final 200m

5) He had blood in one nostril following the event

6) He had poor post-race recovery and respiratory distress

7) And, finally, he was found to have bruising to his eye

Tough day in the office but one real positive was Spieth recording the fast 200m of the day when clocking 10.29 between the 800m and the 600m.

Trainer Bryce Heys has been advised the stallion must gallop over 1000m in the presence of stewards, or barrier trial, and undergo an endoscopic examination before being allowed to race again.

Bottom line, he went alright Spieth don’t worry about that and remember his five wins have all come at 1100m and 1200m.


It seems the David and Ben Hayes and Tom Dabernig team, "Team Haybernig” to make it a bit easier, have the best of the Melbourne fillies while Ciaron Maher has the colts covered after Merchant Navy kept his unbeaten record intact at Caulfield on Saturday.

Haybernig has Catchy, Tulip and Formality leading the charge of his light brigade while Maher has two unbeaten boys in Jukebox and Merchant Navy but he may well challenge the Haybernig girls along the way with well-regarded, but lightly highlighted, Aloisia.

Question is who is the best of each team? Taking a glance through all the relevant markets it would suggest the bookie boys have it Catchy, Formality and Tulip in that order for Team Haybernig while despite also being 3-from-3, Jukebox has been relegated a good bit behind 4-from-4 stablemate Merchant Navy.

Aloisia, is an interesting one for Maher and could well see him stretch his tentacles big time into the ‘girls’ side of the draw. The lightly raced filly was an eye-catching second in the Group I Atkins Stakes in Brisbane during the winter after an impressive Flemington win prior.

She is currently $15 for the Thousand Guineas with Sportsbet while Haybernig has Catchy as a $7 early favourite with Formality and Tulip both $12 chances.


Merchant Navy struts his stuff at Caulfield last Saturday.


Dawn Wall was resuming from a winter break when sensationally backed before going down narrowly to Washington Heights at Rosehill on Saturday.

The mare was having only her eighth start and looked the winner when she loomed large before running out of gas over the last 50m after running a sizzling 10.68 split up the rise between the 400m and the 200m.

When last in work the filly went from a Canterbury maiden to start $4 second favourite in the Queensland Oaks before failing behind her highly touted stablemate Egg Tart but she did win four of her five runs en route to the Oaks.

She’s pretty good this $1.3m daughter of Fastnet Rock and beware anything she contests from here on in as she did win 2nd, 3rdand 4th up during that first preparation.

Also, an honourable mention to Hardham as one to follow out of the last at Caulfield. He was held up for a run and had to change course in the straight before working home nicely in the manner of a horse who will be cherry-ripe for a longer assignment.

Dawn Wall charges home but just fails to get her head in front where it matters.


Muraqaba was well supported when second last in the third at Randwick on Saturday and despite some reasonable excuses offered he’s still not a betting proposition for mine.

He went to the post a $4.60 second favourite but weakened from the turn with stewards reporting a post-race veterinary examination revealed the gelding to be displaying poor recovery and respiratory distress.

I reckon the punters who have backed the horse have suffered enough distress for now, at least. He has recorded one win in nearly two years and while obviously he’s a difficult horse to train having only had 10 starts in that time he’s an even more difficult horse to back.
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