Yvonne - the smiling assassin
This edition of 'A punter of the week' features Yvonne Sampson - sports presenter, horse owner, and president of the Tom Melbourne fan club.
1. What got you into racing?
I grew up on a farm and my grandfather Roy Morris was a trainer. My family owned the Wild Oaks Stud and a racing stable in Warwick Farm. I had my first horse at two-years-old and used to tear up pony club on my little Palouse pony 'Razzamatazz'. Safe to say, my rides at the local gymkhana were genuine contenders for the 'Saturday Slaughter'.
Yvonne after finding all sorts of traffic aboard Razzamatazz.
2. Do you own any horses?
I own two but I haven't won on the punt with them yet.
Helsonic is an All Too Hard filly we bought with my friend Neil Breen who owns Heart Thoroughbreds. Richard Freedman trains her at Rosehill and she is a bit of a tricky mare. He's done a magnificent job with her to get her to the races considering where she has come from. Helsonic has had two starts for a 4th/3rd.
We also have a two year old with Lindsay Park called Heavens Pennys. My uncle Laurie bred her and she is by Rock Hero out of an I Am Invincible mare. She got her name because my uncle used to race the broodmare and he and another bloke were arguing over who would buy her when she retired. They settled it by tossing a coin to see who would take ownership of it. Laurie won, thus Heavens Pennys.
3. What's your favourite bet type?
On the nose - you're either in or out.
4. What's your biggest collect?
I was down at Derby Day at Flemington about five years ago and I got a tip for the Anthony Cummings-trained Fontelina. It was in a Group 2 race down the straight, paying about $12s or something. It sat in behind them before bursting through the pack to win going away. The bookie at the track had to go and find more cash and put them in fat wads tied up with rubber bands. He looked sick, and I was happy.
5. What's the worst beat you've ever copped?
It was the race straight after Fontelina's funnily enough.
I was in the mounting yard and this bloke fronted up to me:
"Hullo lovely, you like ya horses?”
“I own a horse. Smokin' Joey in the last. He’s not much good but we love him.”
I looked at the form guide and agreed - he was not much good.
Smokin' Joey won... and paid a lazy $41.
I was sick, he was happy.
There's a notable mention too for my old mate Tom Melbourne, who I've backed in every race since the 2016 Albury Cup. #MultipleBeats
6. Favourite punting location?
On track, I like the ritual of finding a bookie and going on a raceday journey with him.
But I work most weekends, so if I can’t get on course, I'll head anywhere that has good screens, drinks and banter. The Headlands Hotel down in Austinmer is a great spot for that, so is the Clovelly Hotel.
7. Favourite punting snack and beverage?
It's not traditional, but a glass of wine and a charcuterie board.
8. Favourite punting attire?
I love getting dressed up and going to the races - autumn and spring carnivals are impossible to beat. But if I’m at the local, I have a jumper that says "I don't know what I'm doing."
9. How do you celebrate a big day on the punt?
Nothing better than after a day on the collect to roll straight into chinese. Flower Drum in Melbourne or Golden Century in Sydney - highly recommend Pippies in XO sauce. Cop the tip.
10. What do you do after a grim day on the punt?
Complain, then shoot filthy looks at the winners who can be overheard saying unhelpful comments such as: “I only picked it because it was wearing pink!” Or “I backed it because that’s my son’s name.”
11. Best punting advice you've received?
I used to ride equestrian horses so I always like to see how they parade. My grandfather was always big on type. If they look the goods, I'm always inclined to back them, especially if it’s caught the eye of Lizzie Jelfs.
12. Worst punting advice?
Tom Melbourne is due.
13. Favourite jockey and why?
Dominic Tourneur. Our group of friends have nicknamed him the ATM.
'The ATM' - he'll be pretty damn happy about that nickname.
16. Favourite track?
14. Jockey you can't ever catch?
Craig Williams. #Willowed
15. Favourite trainer and why?
Richard Freedman is just such a gem of a bloke, and does such a great job with his son Will and the team at Rosehill. I always cheer his horses on no matter what.
But I also have a real soft spot for Ron Quinton - a more decent person you wouldn't meet and he used to ride as an apprentice for my grandfather.
Corbould Park on the Sunshine Coast is my home track and it's gotta be the best joint in Australia. The horses always look so healthy in our beautiful Queensland weather. 17. Least favourite track?
Flemington's facilities are incredible during spring but Royal Randwick during the Championships or on Everest Day is impossible to beat.
Eagle Farm 2.0
18. Favourite horse? Past and present.
Subzero hands down.
The joy he and Graham Salisbury bring to people well outside the reach of racing is astonishing.
Subbie gives love, kindness and a gentle understanding to anyone lucky enough to reach out and pat the legendary grey gentleman.
19. Do you have a favourite punting saying?
Thanks to you blokes, it's now 'Get in the sea'.
20. Scariest pub-TAB you've ever set foot in?
The Maleny Hotel.
Not because of the clientele, but because it was literally 20 minutes after my fiance proposed to me.
He was so nervous and relieved I'd said "yes", he convinced me he needed a 'settler'.
Next thing I know I am looking at my brand new ring and he is asking me what I like in the yard at Orange.
Pub-TAB proposal. Hugely ideal.
21. Any other thoughts on 'The Great Game' that you would like to share?
Just that we keep loving the horses, not just the punt.