Kangaroo Jack # 1: Lady Jocks
If you don’t back lady jockeys, you don’t know Jack!
INTRODUCING today Kangaroo Jack, one time Academic, Man of the Cloth, University Doctor, Racing Scribe, Teacher of Poetry to illiterate Asian immigrants, Food crit and all-time Sports and Television fan. He recently retired to the trendy banks of Bondi, New South Wales and has just learnt to cook his first meal. Kangaroo Jack will alternate with Jonnny Gould on Wednesdays.
Shamefully, I confess that I used to put a pen through runners ridden by female jockeys. Those days, like dinosaur snouts, are over and done with, mate. Clear proof for slow-minded boofheads like me was uber-jockette Jamie Kah’s victory in the 2020-2021 Melbourne metropolitan premiership. In becoming the champ, she became the first rider to reach 100 metro winners in a Melbourne season. Strewth!
An interesting perspective on Kah was provided on the weekend by Michelle Payne, who won the 2015 Melbourne Cup on 100-1 chance Prince of Penzance. Payne told a reporter that Kah proves female jockeys don’t need to be as strong as male riders – they just need to be more elegant and instinctive. Kah has a beautiful seat and horses respond to her style.
There you have it! Beauty beats brawn in the saddle! Soon they’ll be banning whips and telling jockeys to tickle their charges’ necks in the chase to the line. You read it here first.
Kah signed off on Saturday with two winners at Moonee Valley, bringing her final tally to 103. Her strike rate for the season was a remarkable 19.8%. For the mathematically dull, she’s been sooling home almost one runner in five, which is bloody brilliant.
My day of complete conviction came in this year’s Gr. 1 Doncaster Handicap at Randwick where I backed Kah on 7-1 shot Cascadian. The day before the race, on the train from Central to Bondi Junction, a nosy bloke saw me reading form and asked me what I liked for the Doncaster. I told him Cascadian. This was my first-ever public declaration of faith in a female jockey’s horse. The carriage gasped, and the nosy bloke laughed, tipping me the 16-5 favourite, Mugatoo. Cascadian, he said, would run on too late.
‘You don’t know Jack,’ I responded.
Was I mad to back a late-finisher with a female jockey up in a 20-horse dash over the Randwick mile? No. I knew the horse was the best-handicapped runner. I read weight better than Carlton & United brew beer. I also factored in Kah’s meteoric rise in Mellie. This win was meant to be.
And so it proved. Kah found a path for Cascadian, who mowed down pencil light roughie Ice Bath in the final stride. My train carriage clapped me into my favourite seat on Monday, and the nosy bugger who counter-tipped me has not been spotted on an Eastern suburbs train since.
ONE OF THE BEST SEATS IN RACING: Jamie Kah is in a class of her own!
Kah booted home 4 Gr. 1 wins in the season. This week a panel of 12 racing scribes voted her the second-best jockey in Australia behind James McDonald. She scored more votes than Hugh Bowman, William Pike, Kerrin McEvoy and Craig Williams. Using a more scientific, points-based system for his Black Type Premiership, a bloke called Gary Knowles (who he?) claims Williams should rate just above Kah. Hair-splitting debates aside, Kah has undoubtedly joined the champagne set of Australian jockeys, and this has surely changed things forever.
What about female jockeys in Sydney? The season saw Rachel King (63 winners) finish in third place behind McDonald (141) and Tommy Berry (111). Like Kah, King is an exquisitely talented rider. OK, she only strikes at 11.3% and I need to skull a few beers before backing her, but once I’m merry she does appeal as a backable pilot. She gets her fair share of rides for Godolphin, which shows she’s trusted by racing blue-bloods.
So, which runner ridden by a female jockey is worth a punt at Kembla Grange on Thursday? Well, my top three tips in Race 2 are all ridden by non-males, and the one I fancy most is Roam Free. Rachel King’s mount has run second-fourth-fourth, which is extravagant form in this opaque Maiden Handicap. In the absence of a better idea, I’ll go with that one. I’m guessing the danger is Louise Day-ridden Angry Liam, with Mancconi, to be ridden by 3kg claimer Ellen Hennessy, next on the prediction list. Back this distaff Trifecta and, if lightning strikes, you can add unearned loot to your Jobkeeper payments.
Why my lack of confidence in my prognostications? Well, I don’t usually tip on meetings in suburbs with 250 inhabitants. However, since I’m originally from the Outback, IRC thinks I must have some affinity with racing in the middle of nowhere – like a country rat sniffing out seeds and nuts. I have, then, tried to sniff out a winner or two below.
Don’t empty your wallets on these selections. This is a bog-standard meeting at a place they leave off maps, so these are not tips for my favourite train carriage. To make matters worse, odds are not even up yet, so I don’t know if I’m tipping you fancies or dead-limbed duds.
But, like I said at my first knife fight on a cattle station, I’ll give anything a stab.
KANGAROO JACK’S SELECTIONS FOR KEMBLA GRANGE, 5TH AUGUST:
Race 1: (7) RACCOLTO; (3) Deadly Impact; (6) Kiterro.
Race 2: (4) ROAM FREE; (2) Angry Liam; (5) Mancconi.
Race 3: (7) PAPER DAISY; (4) Latino Blend; (1) Akihiro.
Race 4: (1) BARANOF; (6) Single Honor; (2) Construct.
Race 5: (4) BASTAKI; (7) Perlant; (5) Conglomerate.
Race 6: (1) NIKAU; (3) Command King; (8) Enjolras.
Race 7: (1) KUZCO LAD; (8) Crazy Train; (4) Real Key.
Until next week, no worries!
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