Best Bets Archive

Horse Racing 17 October 2017

“Not a great Caulfield Cup”

Big Jim takes a look at the Caulfield Cup and who is the best chance to win us some dollars…read more

Let’s just pray that we can put the blood bath of last Saturday behind us this week. Last weekend will be a day the bookies tell their grandchildren about. You can’t back 100/1 shots in Group races. If you do you will go broke so you just have to suck it up, move on and remember that there is plenty of good racing left to come this Spring when things can only improve.

This is not the greatest Caulfield Cup I have ever seen. To be truthful I have questions regarding the relevance of the Caulfield Cup in its current conditions. That, however, isn’t going to change anytime soon so there is no point even making suggestions to the Melbourne Racing Club. The powers that be have an “if it ain’t don’t screw with it” approach to racing in the Spring which is a little sad from where I sit.

Considering the two favourites for the Cup ran around last weekend and both didn’t win it underpins just how weak this race actually is. The good thing for connections is that its still worth plenty of dough.

I have spent a day trying to find something to beat the Aiden O’Brian trained Johannes Vermeer and I simply can’t. Its performance last week was dominant and the extra 400 metres is perfect. You can make cases for Bonneval, Humidor, Amelie’s Star and Harlem but I just think they are all too short in comparison to Johannes Vermeer. Ladbrokes has him fixed at $5.00 which will do me on an each way basis.

I like Ravi in the Tristarc. I have also landed on him through a process of elimination as well not because I love him in a pretty even field. I think he will go better after his last time the Melbourne way around and I think Foxplay is getting to the end of a pretty long campaign.

The sprint is a very open affair and I am still tossing up between Property ($4.40) and Keen Array ($6.00). You will have to come back and check the Big Jim Best Bets of the Day for Saturday for my decision there.

Good luck and good punting and I must say that I am really looking forward to Cox Plate Day in a little over a week.

Horse Racing 9 October 2017

Tina Turner would love Winx”

Big Jim takes a look at whose hot and whose not as we rocket into Spring

Racing….read more”

I just can’t help myself. Winx is the best horse I have ever seen. Period. Black Caviar, Makybe Diva, Frankel, Kingston Town etc etc are all a couple a lengths behind her. I never saw Pharlap but I can’t see how he could be better than her. I said last week that $1.50 looked pretty good about her to win the Cox Plate. That looks like dead set robbery now. The big question is what does she do after that? Would love to see her strut her stuff at Flemington again. Hong Kong maybe. I don’t think the POMS deserve to see her but Royal Ascot seems to be a magnet for horse owners and trainers.

Forget Almandin’s run on the weekend. It was just a training drill. Out to $7.50 at Ladbrokes for the Melbourne Cup which is slowly starting to get to realistic price. To be truthful more of a 10/1 prop for me.

In regards to the Everest I still like She Will Reign at $4.60. She isnt a moral but but she is clearly the one to beat and you can only see Randwick suiting her style of racing. As long as there is reasonable pace expect her and possibly Chautauqua to come charging down the outside.

Guineas Day at Caulfield on Saturday which is always fun. Alizee is plenty short enough at $2.50 in the Thousand Guineas but should be pretty hard to beat. In Regards to the Caulfield Guineas I am still with Royal Symphony at $4.00 She was dead set horrible last time out, but horses are animals and sometimes they have bad days out. I just think that out of the serious chances in this race she is the one that should be cherry ripe at this distance. I suspect Catchy to race in a forward position and if she gets a cushy run she will be in it for a long way but the last furlong is really going to test her.

Good luck and buckle up for four HUGE weekends of the best Group 1 racing in the world. Check out Big Jim Best Bets of the Day everyday for a full list of racing tips.

Horse Racing 1 October 2017

The Grand Final is over…so its GIDDY UP Time”

Big Jim has a look at some of the awesome Spring racing coming up over the next month… more

Let me start by telling you that you can get expert race tips from the Big Jim Team EVERY DAY (apart from the odd Monday) by clicking on Big Jim’s Tips of the Day. Its the really cool image at the top of the home page with Big Jim smoking on a cigar. Just wanted to make sure you knew where to go!!!

Sunday at Caulfield was a blood bath. Its tough going when 4 short priced favourites get rolled when you are on them all. I thought I was betting at Sha Tin there for awhile. Thankfully things can only get better and racing has big swings. There was a track bias that favoured the front runners at Caulfield on Sunday which is unusual as the Caulfield track usually races fairly. They have a couple of weeks to to get it right. So you can make excuses for Catchy and Royal Symphony but there was no excuse for Hardham. Hartnell is obviously now looking for longer than 1800 metres so I wouldn’t be writing off the Godolphin Champion Stallion just yet.

Here are my early takes on some of the big races coming up for those of you who like to take pre post odds. All prices from Ladbrokes.

The Everest: She Will Reign at $4.60 looks pretty tasty. Hard to argue her credentials after handing it to some good older horses at Moonee Valley in the Moir Stakes last Friday night. Chautauqua remains the wild card at $6.00 but he would need A LOT of pace on up front.

Caulfield Cup: Hartnell at $10.00 is over the odds but does he go straight to the Melbourne Cup or the Cox Plate then onto the Melbourne Cup. Gingernuts at $17.00 seems pretty tasty each way value.

Cox Plate: $1.50 still seems pretty good about Winx. History has proved that you will go broke backing against her.

Victorian Derby: I’m not writing off Royal Symphony just yet. I think he is suited by Flemington better and $11.00 is a juicy price. I think he is looking at longer but this is a LOT longer.

Melbourne Cup: Almandin deserves to be the current favourite but he is too short for me at $6.50. Francis of Assisi, Gingernuts, Hartnell, Marmelo, Tiberian and Crocodile Rock all have very nice Each Way appeal.

VRC Oaks: This is very tough at this stage. I trust the market and would work around the joint favourites Aloisia and Pinot who are both at $7.00. Catchy is on the next line of betting and I just think this is going to be too long a trip. I would be looking to take her to the Mckinnon stakes.

I am not going to speculate on the other two big sprint races until we see what happens in the Everest. Good luck and good punting. More updates will follow.

Racing  30 June  2017

Nice for the Protected!”

Big Jim takes a look at the farce that is modern day drug testing…read more

Michelle Payne is a drug cheat just as Shane Warne was a drug cheat. Chinese swimmers and Lance Armstrong were also drug cheats but for some reason we nailed them to the cross. Apparently though some of our Australian pin up sporting heroes appear to be above public scrutiny.

Australian drug cheats who are media sweet hearts are given a free pass from the media but heaven help you if you come from another country with a surname that Aussies struggle to pronounce. Matt Stewart from the Herald Sun wrote a pathetic article about Payne on Friday that under-pinned the pathetic double standards we have created in this country.

According to Stewart, our Aussie battler and all round great gal, Michelle simply took a weight loss pill after her struggles and injuries. Her Doctor provided this to her apparently. Last time I checked, weight loss pills would be the VERY THING that jockeys would be using to battle their number one concern WEIGHT. Don’t for one second think that she didn’t know what she was doing. ANY athlete that puts anything into their bodies, even is prescribed by a doctor, is a cheat or at the very least a fool. Australian sports people have access to 24 hour advice that they can use anywhere in the world. This is not the case of the young kids that were hoodwinked at Essendon. They did have an excuse as they were part of a large scale operations run by the club that made it nearly impossible for the kids to question the legitimacy of the procedure being offered.

Don’t get me wrong….there is plenty of problems with the drug laws in sport but that’s not the issue here. The rules are the rules and sportsmen and women have to be judged to that standard. So why then….if one of our beloved Aussie sports hereos breaks the rules they are dubbed as unlucky victims and not called out as what they really are….cheats? When it suits us we are the first country to stand on the soap box and vehemently condemn until we all are sick of hearing about it. Our sporting press (on the whole) are hypocrites who simply churn out popular opinion. NOT GOOD ENOUGH!!!

Racing 15 May 2017

Don’t starve the little fellas!!!”

Big Jim looks at the weight scale in thoroughbred racing

Poor old Dylan Dunn has hung up the whip at the tender age of 22. The son of champion hoop Dwayne, Dylan had to starve himself half to death to maintain a weight of 56kg. He has finally succumb to starvation and has called it a day to save his sanity and ultimately his life. Its a very sad day as the kid had a ton of talent and will be a loss to the sport.

Big Jim was never going to be a jockey and that is OK. Jockeys are never going to play in the NBA and that is ok as well. The problem is that plenty of talented “little people” are being driven out of the sport of racing due to the state of “the natural progression of the human race”. This is a big problem!

Humans are getting bigger. They have been constantly getting bigger for thousands of years but with modern day health and diet they are getting bigger FASTER. The current weight that jockeys are expected to maintain is too low and has been now for a couple of decades.

The counter argument is one of tradition, but this is a tradition that needs to change through common sense. Yes the times and records of former champion Horses may never be beaten but does that really matter? In most motor sports we put limitations on the speed, weight and safety of the cars to protect the drivers. If all weights were raised by as little as 2kg it would make a MASSIVE difference across the board. You might not think 2kg sounds that much but go into any jockey sauna around the country and ask the little guys and girls in there (that are dehydrating themselves until they can barely stand up) what they think! They will ALL tell you that a 2kg relief would change their lives.

Some changes need to be made and its time that we took a little bit better care of some of the bravest men and women in the world of sport!

Horse Racing  1 May 2017

Jockey Jockey on the Wall who is the Fairest of them all?”

Big Jim has a look at his favourite jockeys in Australia…read more

Maybe my title for this article is a little bit tongue in cheek as jockeys (per say) couldn’t lie straight in bed at night. That’s just the game and when it comes to big races that matter they are all trying their best and put themselves in danger of dying every time they ride. Lets have a look at my favourite hoops around the country. My criteria includes everything that I think is important. Nothing more or nothing less.


A few years ago I thought the Sydney Jockeys had the depth over the Melbourne ones. Its sort of a swings and round about scenario but right at the moment its neck and neck. Maybe Sydney at the very top has the finer cream but Melbourne certainly has the better depth when it comes to their middle tier of say the 8-20 range. It really is tough at the top in the Harbour City and I didn’t even have room to put in Berry and Clark who are also top contenders.


1: McEvoy

2: Avdulla

3: Shinn

4: Bowman

5: Penza

Most Overated

1: O’Hara

2: Panya

3: Angland


The thing that Melbourne has at the moment is an absolute gun line up of apprentices. There are so many good ones its going to be hard to see how they all end up with rides in the future. The best will keep getting the rides and the others will have to go out and scratch a living in the bush. Its a hard cut throat industry. The crop is so good at the moment I have to throw 3 of them in my top 5!


1: Lane

2: Mertens

3: Bayliss

4: Williams

5: Thompson

Most Overrated

1: Nolan

2: M Payne

3: B Rawiller


There is a great selection of jockeys in SA at the moment. Probably the best they have had in a long long time. They are also starting to get more Victorian and Tassie Jockeys following horses over which is making the racing in SA even stronger.


1: Nielson

2: Karr

3: Finnegan

4: Wong

5: Potter

Most Overrated

1: Lindop

2: Holder

3: Tourneur


This is pretty easy as the cream really rises to the top North of the border. The top few up in QLD are really top shelf but I feel that their depth is probably the weakest out of all the major centres.


1: Orman

2: Lloyd

3: Byrne

4: Day

5: Harrison

Most Overated

1: Browne

2: Cahill

3: Appo

Other Notables

My 5 favourites from the rest of the country.

1: W Pike (WA)

2: Carr (TAS)

3: Clark (TAS)

4: Ward (ACT)

5: Tan (WA)

Horse Racing 26 April 2017

Where’s the Forward Thinking

Big Jim takes a look at idea of making the Caulfield Cup a Weight For Age race instead of a handicap…read more

If i commented on every stupid thing the numerous racing bodies in Australia did i would have to employ a team of 20 writers working around the clock. Somewhere buried in the back of the Herald Sun the other day i learnt that the Melbourne Racing Club (MRC) was toying with the idea of making the Caulfield Cup a weight for age event (WFA). Apparently that idea was quickly knocked on the head by the board. That comes as absolutely no surprise as why would the board do something that makes PERFECT sense.

The problem with sporting administers is that they get caught up on tradition. They are also loathed to change something that is successful in favour of making it better because change carries a small risk of failure. The Australian Cricket Board, Australian Rugby Union, Australian Basketball are all excellent examples of organizations (like the ruling racing bodies) that couldn’t run a chook raffle in an RSL.

If the Caulfield Cup was a WFA event then it would be a perfect lead up race for both the Cox Plate AND the Melbourne Cup. The race could then also have set weight penalties for the Melbourne Cup instead of having conjecture about “the size” of the weight increase for winners of the Caulfield Cup who go onto contest the Melbourne Cup. Moonee Valley might argue that making the Caulfield Cup WFA would diminish from the Cox Plate; I beg to differ. If there were two middle distance races at WFA conditions it would encourage the very best of the best from around the world to make the pilgrimage to Australia.

The only other creditable argument would be that a WFA Caulfield Cup might deter some visitors making the trip across for the Melbourne Cup. That is also narrow-minded as many horses come over only on the “slight chance” of sneaking into the Melbourne Cup even though they don’t have a start in the Caulfield Cup. This way the very best stayers in the world would have even more incentive to bring over their best horses as they get to compete on even terms for a big prize before rolling the dice in the worlds richest distance handicap. If we get a super star horse that comes over from Asia, Europe or America and they start at 1/2 on in the Caulfield Cup isn’t that a good thing? They are still going to be running against a big field, first up in new conditions.

For me the Caulfield Cup and the Melbourne Cup are just too similar. A 2400m WFA event a week prior to the Cox Plate and 17 days prior to the Melbourne Cup makes perfect sense. If worst comes to worst then you could switch the Cox Plate and the Caulfield dates around. Old fuddy duddies would say that would screw with tradition and would be impossible but really??? That’s just an excuse that would reek of being in the too hard basket for lazy people happy to be enjoying the benefits of so called tradition. Make the Caulfield Cup a stand alone race of champions and not just the poor younger brother to the Melbourne Cup. Screw tradition you stuffy old morons and get with the program. Why settle for mediocrity when you could strive to make something bigger, better and most importantly more relevant.

6 March 2017

Horse Racing The Everest: A long way from the top of the world

Big Jim takes a look Australia’s new richest horse race.

NSW Racing has made a vain attempt to dampen the start of of the Victorian Spring Carnival by scheduling a 10 Million dollar “buy-in” race at Randwick on the same day as the Caulfield Guineas. There must be a few “fat cats” set to make a few quid out of the plan as this poorly thought out idea has more holes in it than the Bismark.

The idea that Sydney should have a 10 million dollar world class race is a great one but a great idea has now turned into a farce. The time of the year is a horrible choice and don’t be surprised if one of the Victorian Clubs looks to sabotage the Autumn Carnival in years to come. The perfect time for a race such as this was the Autumn at Randwick during their “The Championships” which is supposed to be Sydney’s show-piece carnival but is a concept that is still gaining traction itself.

Secondly why is it a sprint race? Australian race lovers are not obsessed by sprint racing no matter how much sprint racing is shoved down our throats. This should have been a 1600, 2000 or 2400 metre race for starters. A few years back the Queen Elizabeth Stakes was catapulted into the feature race of the Sydney Autumn Carnival. This is the race that should be “The Everest” and if need be the Queen Elizabeth should be retained as the race for the A- brigade not good enough to race against the worlds best for an eight figure purse. Its a stupid notion that Sydney’s best race be named after the UK Monarchy but that is a discussion for another time.

Lastly I am not opposed to a “buy in” race on principle? It does, however, risk the chance that some of our best horses would be excluded from the race. Alternatively some of the best horses with syndicate owners that aren’t multi millionaires might have to lease (at a big price and a percentage of winnings) to rich owners and trainers who have pre purchased their spot in the race. Again good for the rich, bad for the industry.

Who makes these decisions? Just because you wear the suit doesn’t mean you have the intellect to make the right decision. Racing needs innovation and it needs to attract fresh blood. Its just sad that with so many individuals bodies making decisions purely based on self interest the sport as a whole suffers.

1 March 2017

Horse Racing – She Just Winx’ed at me!   Big Jim weighs into the Winx v Black Caviar debate. Read more….

The Winx, Waller and Bowman show rolled on at Randwick on Monday when Winx emphatically jogged home in the Apollo Stakes. Hartnell ran a brave second first up at a distance that is totally out of his comfort zone but he was in a different race to the champion mare Winx.

It is hard to put in perspective just how good Winx is. Lets just say very very very. The obvious comparison to Black Caviar is the topic on everyone’s lips at the moment. I hate to bag Black Caviar as she couldn’t have done anything more than she did. She was, however, a one trick pony who raced against average opposition. Hay List (Black Caviars bridesmaid) was a very good horse and was horribly unlucky to run into Black Cavier on so many occasions. Even though Hay List would have been a multiple Group 1 winner in a different era he wasn’t even worth putting in the same sentence as the likes of Hartnell. Weight for age and handicap middle distance Group racing in Australia over the last two years has had substantially more depth to anything Black Caviar ran into over sprint distances during her unbeaten run.

Winx should win the Queen Elizabeth Stakes this Autumn and then go on to record her 3rd consecutive Cox Plate in October. Then we will have to wait and see if she travels over seas or even steps up in distance for a crack at something like the Melbourne Cup (currently quoted as a 30/1 unlikely starting prospect). It will be fascinating viewing but she will need to add more accolades to convince the Australian racing public that she deserves to be recognized in the same class as Black Caviar and Pharlap.

The other horse that shouldn’t be forgotten is Makybe Diva. Her three Melbourne Cups and Cox Plate at the very least should book her a spot in the discussion. The only thing we can safely say is that to see three such dominant Mares in such a short space of time is truly remarkable.

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