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The Man Bookmakers Feared

During the twenties, and into the thirties, Eric Connolly was the most feared person to step on a racecourse, be it in Melbourne or Sydney.

He didn’t have a gun, all though there were many that were well armed and not afraid use them if the occasion arose.

The punting bug bit him at a tender age, he was about nine year old when he went onto the Flemington flat with a few schillings in his pocket, from there he was never paid as an employee.

They were desperate times leading into the depression, however, Connolly never wanted for anything, he lived on his wits; he was a gambler, and a highly successful one at that.

He came from a humble beginning; he wasn’t fed from a golden spoon, (a quote that a person came from a wealthy family) that was not the case with Eric Connolly.  

He was shrewd, brilliant, in fact he always seemed to be in the right place at the right time, and always got the best of the odds.

Originally, he managed race horses for wealthy people, who may not have had the time due to pressure of their business.

That suited him; he didn’t train the horses, but had the advantage of selecting the suitable races for them.

It became a lucrative business, the owners employed the trainers, Connolly selected the races for the horses, everything worked out well.

He soon became the best dressed figure on the racecourse, with a wide variety of suits, and wouldn’t wear the same suit twice in the one week, and a cigarette hanging in the corner of his mouth.

Bookmakers feared him, he was absolutely ruthless, he would place 10,000 pounds on a horse and have the cheek to say, “Can I have another serve?”

The bookie then would be off in a flash, looking for the next bloke to try and lay some of the bet off, particularly if it was Ascot, the bookie would be a dead duck.

Eric Connolly, flamboyant character, winning fortunes and losing them in the drop of a hat, without batting an eyelid, his motto, Money lost Nothing lost –Courage lost Everything lost.

When entries closed for the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups in July, about 600 horses would be entered for each race.

Doubles betting was always very popular; often a bonanza for those in need, and that included a few bookies.

Betting was already in place before the weights were declared, Phar Lap was favourite for both cups, Phar Lap, as you would expect, was the early favourite in each leg, but still Eric Connolly had not made a move.

He was well aware that Harry Telford, who purchased Phar Lap as a yearling, but could not pay for him, Telford had to seek the assistance of an American, David Davis, who ultimately owned Phar Lap, as Telford was near broke.

On one of his several visits to Sydney Eric Connolly spotted a good horse named Amounis, he had won an Epsom Handicap and several weight for age races, he began to think about it, if Phar Lap was not in the Caulfield Cup, Amounis would be next door to a good thing.

“Well what do we do? “said Telford, Connolly replied, “leave that to me, we are not ready yet. “

Bookmakers were having to lay money off now, as the commitment was getting beyond it, the favourite double, Phar Lap for the Caulfield Cup and Phar Lap for the Melbourne Cup, the shortist double on record.

Connolly always had a high opinion of Amounis, it was now time to strike, he had backed the Amounis –Phar Lap double for a huge amount, some say it could have been a million pounds.

Finally it was announced the scratching of Phar Lap from the Caulfield Cup, the winner was Amounis at 2-1 favourite, and Phar Lap won the Melbourne Cup at 8-11 on.

It was the biggest hiding bookmakers have known, many went to the wall, some never recovered, the depression didn’t make it any easier.


The Autumn Sun blitzes Rivals

The Autumn Sun gave his rivals a sound beating, for those that opposed him in the Caulfield Guineas on Saturday.

It was a highly impressive win by four and a half lengths, however not as impressive as Tulloch, who won the Guineas by eight and a half lengths, but then we haven’t seen another Tulloch as yet, but who knows? Records are made to be broken.

There is no question The Autumn Sun is a very highly talented racehorse, he has now won five races from six starts, and should remain unbeaten.

The Autumn Sun 066 Jack MobileThe Autumn Sun winning the Guineas

He is a super colt; he came into the paddock for the parade without a care in the world, walking close to his attendant the colt was perfectly relaxed, all he wanted to do was to get on with the race, the purpose of being at Caulfield.

The Autumn Sun drew a good gate 5, and made full use of it, perched up on the outside out of trouble, and ready to go at the slightest command.

Once he reached the railway side of the course, he just strode away at his leisure; the race was virtually over from there.

It was certainly the best performance we have seen by a three year old for many a long day, whether we will see him again this spring is unlikely, he is still in the Cox Plate, however, he may be resting in the paddock by then.

The Autumn Sun 341 Jack MobileA Champion Colt


Everest smashes Records

Royal Randwick was bursting at the seams as it hosted the biggest crowd in decades, for the second running of the $13 million, The Tab Everest.

The Opera House scenario was just what the doctor ordered, it awoke the sleeping giant, the result, a massive crowd of 40,578 could only be master minded by Racing NSW’s Chief Executive, Peter V’landys AM.

“This generation has adopted The Everest as their event, and their own race, and I am sure they will come to Everest day for many more years to come, ‘’added Peter V’landys.

The Australian Turf Club’s Chief Executive, Jamie Barkley, said,” Royal Randwick had witnessed an amazing record of the TAB Everest crowd.”

The major days of the spring could only manage to draw crowds of 14,087 and 13, 803.


Winks Superlative

The accolades continue to roll in for Winx, after her 28th successive win, the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes at Flemington on Saturday.

She is a super mare and has been well protected by her trainer, Chris Waller, he has never altered the game plan that has been firmly set months ago.

Waller didn’t get excited when the mare was near to last, when the horses came into the final stretch Winx needed an opening, the response came quickly, she was as game as they come.

Hugh Bowman always had the situation under control, but many in the crowd may have thought otherwise, and Flemington is the longest straight in Australia now, since Victoria Park in Adelaide has been closed.

Winx will be fully wound up in three weeks time for her fourth, and last assault, on the W S Cox Plate, she will forge away, creating a new record that may never be eclipsed.

There was nothing there to really test her on Saturday, and the Cox Plate may not be any different, as fewer horses are graduating to weight for age.

There was not another single horse in the field to oppose Winx , Grunt looked as if he was a Stakes possibility, and still might be the horse after winning the Makybe Diva Stakes, however, after his antics in the saddling paddock, and finishing last, he looks a likely candidate for an operation.

Winx 102 Jack MobileWinx winning the Turnbull Stakes


Coolmores New Addition

Caravaggio took centre stage at Coolmore’s open day, last month, as he paraded to a packed audience under ideal conditions

He is the new kid on the block at Coolmore, with a dose of scintillating speed, he was well endowed with pace, as you would imagine, as he has a proven sire line.

Caravaggio has followed a similar pattern to the great Danehill, bred in America, raced in Europe, and now on the shuttle, covering mares in both hemispheres.

He is by Scat Daddy, who was possessed with abundant speed, that pace saw him win the Belmont Champagne Group 1, and following up by going onto Gulfstream Park to win the Florida Derby.

Caravaggio 2018 MobileCaravaggio at Coolmore

The sire line will be in quite familiar territory, as Caravaggio grandsire, Johannesburg, stood at Coolmore at one stage, as did his sire Hennessy.

Caravaggio is already being known as “The Ballydoyle Bullet,” he was very quick in winning the Commonwealth Cup Group 1 over 1200 metres at Royal Ascot.

He is best described as Timeform’s highest rated two year old colt, in Europe, in2016, as Scat Daddy’s fastest son he won the Group2 Coventry Stakes, besides winning the Commonwealth Cup.

Caravaggio is a very exciting new addition to our breeding industry, and Coolmore are to be applauded, they have a go, where too many studs wait for it to happen.

Caravaggio - Commonwealth Cup - 2018 MobileCaravaggio winning the CommonwealthCup


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