Harmonic Part 2
Whenever possible, I've always travelled to see my horses race wherever that may be. I can't see any point in having one if you're not going to have as much fun as possible with them - after all, in 96% of ownerships, you never come out in front, so you should be there. The thrill of a raceday when you have an interest, the saddling up, the parade, the actual race, and if you're lucky enough to win, what a thrill. It doesn't matter if it's Flemington or Charleville (I'd prefer Flemington!), the thrill of a win is just wonderful.
Anyway, poor ol' Harmonic had a couple more runs after the Sunshine Coast, and showed his true form. Ridden on the pace, ridden back off the pace, whenever the pressure was applied, up went the head, legs all over the place, and unplaced. We put him out for a break over December, but what to do with him next was a problem.
I don't know who thought of it, but someone said why not the Roma Picnics in March, and then sell him to someone out there.
What a good idea we all thought - that's where Barry started his training career, and I'm sure he'd like to return, even if for one short visit.
Now back then, the Roma Picnics were held on a Friday and Saturday, and any horses had to be sent out at least 6 weeks beforehand for weaning off the hard feed and onto grass (only grass fed at the Picnics). Horses are also expected to race on both days, which we thought Harmonic would enjoy ha,ha!
Barry trained him up to the cut off point, and then he went out to Roma under the care of Shane Iverson for the six week period.
As Barry had Saturday commitments back in town, we were only ever going to attend on the Friday only, and I kept thinking of the 5 hour drive out and then back home again on the one day. I then made an enquiry about hiring a light plane for a flight out and back. Actually the price wasn't too bad if we could get a few people to come with us, so we went on a round up of anyone interested.
At 10am on Friday 14 March 1997, six of us climbed into an 8 seater Piper something or other and took off for the 2 hour flight to Roma. I apologise to any of the following if they weren't actually part of this adventure, but as far as I can remember, the six of us included Barry, Neville Auld (ex jockey then a strapper), Paul Hamblin (now a Victorian jumps jockey), myself, a mate of mine, and one other who I can't remember.
The day was absolutely fabulous, with crystal clear blue skies and a smooth flight all the way. The scenery was brilliant and you get a totally different perspective from that height.
We landed OK, and caught a couple of cabs to the track for our first beer of the day. Well, when this group of six walked onto the course, you could see the locals' eyes (but particularly the bookies') zoom in on Baldwin, Hamblin, Auld, and a couple of smartly dressed others - there must be a plunge in the making!
Shane Iverson said Harmonic was as good as he could get him, Ken Waller (what a top bloke!) was the jock, and all was well with the world.
He was in the last race of the day unfortunately, so we had to endure a hot afternoon of cold beers! But not the pilot, who was just happy to have a racing adventure on his CV.
The race came due, and the bookies put up their prices - Harmonic 1/4 (that's $1.25). What a laugh! So we just watched.
Usual instructions to Kenny Waller, out in front on the sand track, and hope like hell he holds on - no whip.
He settled second 'cos some local wanted to take him on, pressure applied at the top of the straight, up yours he thought, put his head up, turned up his toes (not quite), and ran fourth, beaten about 4 lengths. &*%$!
We could see Kenny wanted to kill him, as he just wouldn't try when he was supposed to.
He pulled up OK, as much as to say - Race? What race!
So as penalty, we decided to make him go around the next day (Waller to ride again), but we wouldn't be there. Shane Iverson said he would find a local to buy him to race around the western circuit.
So all was decided. No more chaff burning Harmonic after tomorrow, and a lovely day at the Roma Picnics was had by all. Could have been better except ol' bugger face failed again - but that's racing. And the whole day only cost about $100 each.
So we all piled into our little plane and had a really lovely flight back to Brisbane, arriving about 6.30pm. Coming into Brisbane just after the sun had gone down at the low height these little planes fly was just spectacular - one of those memorable occasions.
Yeah, well the story isn't finished just yet .....................
About 6pm the next day after the Brisbane races, the phone rang at Barry's place while we were having a beer - it's Ken Waller.
"He shit in", says Kenny. "You could have got 9/2, too!"
I'm sure some of you must have heard the scream of abuse from Hendra that night. The bastard had done us like a dinner.
Geezuz, if he'd come back to the stable that night he would have been on the barbeque - the dogs would have had a good feed!
Shane Iverson rang later that night and gave us the true story.
Kenny rode him a treat. He led up, but as usual, half way down the straight he started to get the staggers.
And Kenny just couldn't resist after the previous day's feeble effort.
About 20 metres from the post, he stood up in the irons and brought the whip down sooooo hard on Harmonic's arse that his eyes just about popped out of his head. He got such a fright he actually stuck his head out and held on to win by a long neck - "shit in?" ............. Yeah right, Kenny.
What a bugger of a horse, but I still think about him often, and the photo of that memorable Roma win is still on my wall.
God, I love the racing game!
And some of you are talking about taking a break from the punt?
You're kiddin' aren't you!
PS Sorry if I went on too long, but the more I wrote, the more I just loved the memories!