No doubt other statistics released by the NSW Gambling Survey (2019) are even more disturbing.
Lottery tickets were the most popular punt (37 per cent), followed by poker machines (16 per cent), with horse and dogs getting only 13 per cent compared to the 26 per cent in the previous survey 2011.
Fewer people, too, are now betting, which could be an economy issue, but for those who are there are tempting races today at Rosehill Gardens as well as Flemington.
Certainly the old Mackinnon had tradition, great horses and great jokes, being known unofficially as ‘The Practice Stakes’ in some chapters for runners with a true focus on the following Tuesday’s Melbourne Cup.
Many figured it would be the death knell of the Mackinnon Stakes when the weight-for-age clash shifted in 2016 from the first Saturday of the carnival to the final meeting of the four days.
Certainly the old Mackinnon had tradition, great horses and great jokes, being known unofficially as ”The Practice Stakes” in some chapters for runners with a true focus on the following Tuesday’s Melbourne Cup.
However it looks an attractive betting medium this year, due to the outstanding New Zealand mare, Melody Belle, who has the bogey draw 16 to heighten her risk factor.
Melody Belle bolted away with the Empire Rose at Flemington last Saturday, influencing an opinion that she would have won the Cox Plate. Alas the quality of Aristia, second to her last Saturday, can hardly be compared with the Japanese war horse Lys Gracieux, who was overwhelming at Moonee Valley.
Still the last mare to take the Mackinnon was La Bella Dama (2001), and inside barriers have been an advantage since Grand Armee (14) triumphed in 2004.
But some jockeys are superior at the launching pad: Craig Williams, for example. Williams jumped Vow And Declare from 21 and found the right passage to take the Melbourne Cup on Tuesday, followed by his performance on Star Missile winning at Flemington on Thursday from gate 16 over
Williams walks tracks like few others and, on ABC News Radio’s Hoof On The Till decreed he would be paying plenty of attention to the surface before the Mackinnon, in which he is navigates Aristia from what should be the perfect five barrier – if the rails section, through wear and
tear of three previous meetings, isn’t a drawback.
Aristia can’t beat Melody Belle on their clash last Saturday but, given a “Willow” – a sweet passage – could cause an upset if the favourite strikes traffic problems.
“We know she will back up, too,” Williams stressed, regarding past performances of his mount.
Obviously there are other “ifs and buts” prospects including Hartnell (14), having his last race, and Kings Will Dream (13), with other Cox Plate also-rans that will appreciate today’s drop in class, although it’s hardly a Japanese free zone with Suzuka Devious and Kluger engaged.
Wise guys believe the final day is developing into the best of Melbourne Cup week. Apart from the Mackinnon, the Darley Spring Classic today can boast credentials from The Everest.
Should Santa Ana Lane be successful it would confirm his status as Australia’s best sprinter despite having gone down by a half-length to Yes Yes Yes in the mountain of prizemoney sprint at Randwick last start.
Strong opposition, though, is expected from Nature Strip, who has three wins from three Flemington attempts. Take care. Williams lurking on the three-year-old filly Loving Gaby is carrying the Best Bets comment from their last start victory in the Manikato Stakes: “Best ride wins.”