Mick Price on track bias: ‘Just leave the bloody rail where it is’

“Just leave the bloody rail on every track where it is,” Group 1 training legend Mick Price told News Corp. “Bias is definitely happening and I think they should just leave the rail in the true position, take the onus of responsibility off the track curators and then let the jockeys work it out.“People will accept that there’s traffic (on the track) and jockeys and trainers and trackwalkers are then going to have to work it out.”They create bias by moving the rail.“By creating bias all it does is shake the confidence of the punters and connections and hurts (wagering) turnover.“Put on a 12-month trial with the rail and just leave it in the same position.“No-one will complain because people accept that there’s (racing) traffic on a racetrack, but what they don’t accept is artificially creating bias.”Price’s comments come in a period where track bias has become arguably the biggest talking point among Australian punters.There have been a series of blow -ups with the Rosehill track for the Expressway Stakes card in late January producing an awful leader-rail bias and leaving punters, owners and trainers angry.There was also high controversy at Caulfield on Group 1 CF Orr Stakes day earlier last month with Black Caviar’s trainer Peter Moody giving officials a savage serve on Twitter when he railed against the track being watered on race day. But not everyone shared the same view with Melbourne Cup winner and dual license holder Michelle Payne leaping to the defense of the Caulfield track and those who prepared it. More recently, many punters were raging against a perceived bias at Caulfield on Blue Diamond Stakes day last Saturday however expert Paul Daily had a different view. It goes to show there is no common view or one size fits all approach to the track bias issue which is creating plenty of hot blooded arguments.But Price feels he has seen enough track bias to believe a trial of something new is needed with regard to rail placements.Price also advocates against the watering of tracks on race day – insisting the last watering should be done the night before. He also thinks, in his home state of Victoria, authorities need to tinker with the track preparation policy that requires clubs to aim to prepare a track that is Good (4) for at least the first race of the meeting.“To start with, when they water it artificially on race day, they can’t control properly the amount of water that goes on what lane of the track,” Price says.“You can still water the tracks but you need to water them at night-time, not in the morning, and if you put the water on properly at night in theory it should be even the next day.“I do think the industry policy of preparing (Good) 4 and (Good) 3 track is incorrect and I think they should take it down one rating to make it a (Soft) 5 to a Good (4).“I don’t think that would impact (wagering) turnover and it would help because especially in some of these meetings with hot weather, they are loathe to actually put up the correct track rating which might actually be a (Firm) 2.” Flemington track curator Liam O’Keeffe respects Price but says leaving the rail in the same position for every meeting would actually create more track bias.“You would create far more bias by concreting the rail in the true position than moving it to cover the wear and tear to try to present an even surface,” O’Keeffe said.“If the first meeting is run with the rail position in the true, as good as gold.“In the second meeting, running in true, you might get half your card out of true and then the horses will be getting off that inside section.“Then the Saturday after that, they (jockeys) probably won’t even go near the fence for the first race, they might be racing four or five ( meters) off the fence.“Then the next race meeting they would be racing six or seven or eight meters off the fence.”Then, conversely, you might get a dry and hot day when the track has to be watered and it is lush eight or nine meters off the rail and it is barer on the inside and where you have actually been rac ing becomes faster.“Another important thing to note is for a tight track like Moonee Valley, there is not a big enough advantage to race off the fence because it’s a tight surface. “In other words, racing two meetings in a row with the rail in the true at Moonee Valley will race completely different to Flemington.” If the fence is a little bit off at Moonee Valley it is probably no disadvantage as it’s a tight track and you don’t want to go to wide.” O’Keeffe, busy preparing his track for Australian Guineas day on Saturday, said it was only on rare occasions that he was forced to water Flemington on race day.And if he did, it was simply to confirm with Racing Victoria’s track preparation guidelines. He said the job of a racetrack manager had never been harder. “The job of a track manager got significantly harder in the last five years,” he said. “That is because there is so much focus on having an even track and what’s made the degree of difficulty harder is you have to put a lot more moisture into the track to have more give in the track these days.”If track managers water on the morning they are just trying to conform to the policy.“If they go back to having Good 3s (track ratings) they won’t have to water in the morning.”The Melbourne Racing Club was contacted for this story but declined to comment .

Leave a Comment