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Avdulla's grey area criticism

The Everest (yeah, the one from the Opera House ads) (AAP Image/Julian Smith)
Roar Guru
16th October, 2017
2

Reading Brenton Avdulla’s explanation of his Chautauqua ride in The Everest, published on Racing.com, disappointed me.

I won well off Redzel as my top pick and backed the Team Hawkes champ as my second favourite. The odds were insane. So, my following appraisal has nothing to do with a lightening of the wallet.

Top jockeys must be their own worst critic and have a very active BS-filter when outsiders proffer an opinion of their skills. I’ve tired over the years of hearing or reading unjustified criticism levelled at riders. Jockeys are often confronted with toss-of-the-coin race-riding decisions.

Grandstand riders, with the value of hindsight, shouldn’t level blame at a jockey for a botched 50-50 call. If a viewer sees what the jockey was trying to do in a tight-pinch and it didn’t work out, then fair enough. Everybody learns something.

With consideration to the above I think Brenton Avdulla’s explanation of his ride on the champion grey, Chautauqua, fell short of a reasonable justification.

The following three points need to be explained in his rebuttal of criticism.

Firstly, Chautauqua’s last four wins have been achieved surging on the extreme outside of runners. He has been primed to come to the outside with his lead-up runs. Even more compelling is that his race history shows that when he has traffic in front of him, the big grey is unimpressed.

When Avdulla was mounting his home-stretch fence challenge, he was seen flicking the grey with the whip. The grey was not tiring, he was looking for a place to go. When the clear air came, it was all too late.

Brenton should have known Chautauqua’s preferences.

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Secondly, Chautauqua’s last three wins around a bend have been achieved with him coming from last few, working to the extreme outside of the pack in front of him and into clear air by the 200 metres. Making the decision to ride him into the pack was, as the American’s say, a ‘Hail Mary pass’.

Avdulla started to shift to the outside of a still travelling English (Shinn) inside the 600-metre but changed his mind and switched back to her inside. This was the crucial mistake. As soon as Avdulla elected to stay on the inside of Shinn, I bet his jockey thought … ‘got you where I want you’. Without divine intervention, the grey was beaten from that point.

Lastly, Hugh Bowman, referring to riding in Winx’s Sydney heart stoppers, wisely said “you’ve got to trust the engine”.

Avdulla, you didn’t.

If Avdulla had answered critics by saying something like, ‘I didn’t think I could win at the 500-metres and adjusted my riding plans accordingly’, this article would not have been written. It is time to let a sleeping dog lie as I’m sure Team Hawkes have put disappointment to rest, as is their way.

Avdulla will continue his current professional upward spiral. He is a fine talent and is fast becoming a significant player that will last decades.

But Avdulla, do your homework thoroughly. Then believe it… trust me, it works.