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If the famous ‘Pub Test’ is anything to go by, then 2020 was either a ‘mongrel’, ‘bludger’ or a four-letter word, of a year not fit for print here, all depending on which section of your local watering hole you sit in and what time of the day you pose the question.

Me personally, I didn’t mind it so much. ‘Working from home’ as they like to call it, gave me plenty of time to pour over the week’s replays, tune in to the live broadcast of the barrier trials, and trim the fat from my Sportsbet blackbook which had a reading time on par with Tolstoy’s War and Peace.

I had a liquor store within my ‘essential travel bubble’, the bank let me park the mortgage for six months, and ScoMo was dropping a fortnightly kitty into my cunning kick, the likes of which I’d normally have to filter through three Cayman Islands trading accounts just to hide from the Misso so I could have a decent go at one of a Saturday. Then again, I was probably one of the lucky few.

I didn’t have a lot to do at all, my one task being to try and find winners for ‘The Battlers’ of a Saturday. And for those loyal followers, who stuck with me throughout the year, and still had something left to bet with come Boxing Day, their faith was handsomely rewarded this week with a couple of good things winning up north in The Harrovian and The Elanora, while two that featured prominently over the past few weeks in Spirit Ridge and Bigboyroy, were able to get the job done for us in Sydney. Something to keep you coming back next week, which as it turns out will be next year.

For those of us that made it through to the other end, well it’s a bit like the trainer of the $2 million yearling said to its owners after it ran last on debut- “we’ll be all the better for the run, and it can only improve.” Amen to that.

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Pinnacle Prince (Syd Race 2)

A couple of big wins on the Sydney card and he was certainly the first of them. I was out rather late partaking in some Christmas cheer with the Syndicate Manager of runner up Shanaya during the week, and all as I can say is you were bloody stiff to run into one that goes as good as this in a Class 3 Highway. While a race like this would about be the highlight of her career, I can guarantee it won’t be the case for Pinnacle Prince. Impressive type, impressive victory. Big future.

Bigboyroy (Syd Race 5)

Just dead set stiff last start, and connections opted wisely to scratch last week when he drew poorly. They left nothing to chance Saturday, and while the margin was modest, he always looked the winner. Heads to the 1800m race on Millions day. A tough on-pace Randwick mile win should translate well for an 1800m race on the tight GC circuit.

All Time Legend (Syd Race 7)

Probably gets the win of the day for mine, although Spirit Ridge was incredibly courageous in the feature. There were three reasons I left him out of my quaddie numbers. He’s an on pacer who unless he went back to the last pair, was always three deep no cover. He’d never won under 1300m, and C Williams had ridden just 3 winners from his last 50 rides and I couldn’t tell you when he last rode a Saturday winner in town. The results page will show Williams would go on to ride a double for the day, and that he made all the right moves in the race, including the decision to ease back 2nd last after jumping cleanly and once he produced him at the 300m he was never going to get beat. Good horses make good trainers, but Les Bridge has been at this caper for a long time, and he seldom, if ever, doesn’t have a smart one ticking over in the barn. Might have lost his Everest winner, but may have found his Autumn carnival horse here.

Forgive

Greysful Glamour (Syd Race 6)

Probably a dud decision to run her here with the beauty of hindsight given her racing pattern and that she’s a mare who just gets 2000m and was going to be forced to lump 59kg and give her last start rivals considerable weight relief. Picked up $5000 for running fifth but the two weeks she stayed in work for this probably costs you four weeks off her prep into the Spring where you’d have to say she’s a genuine hope back down the weights in a Doncaster, provided she comes up again. Eight tough runs in a prep across two states, but there’s no better conditioner than M Newnham at the moment. Looking forward to her return.

Lancaster Bomber (Syd Race 7)

If you thought Tash Burleigh and Shanaya were stiff to run into Pinnacle Prince, then spare a thought for Richie Litt and Lancaster Bomber. Looked like mapping a soft 3rd the fence, particularly after connections of Matowatakpe declared publicly it was their intention to lead. With that in mind Clipperton made the right move early to ensure he would secure the trail spot only to have Tom Sherry decide to park up outside him and hand up. The replay will show his mount was gone at the furlong while Litt’s son of Denman boxed on courageously at despised odds in spite of being a last start winner. Was bloused late by one first up who drew the car park and probably had no business winning but has a big future. Entitled to be a bit dirty if you backed him at the fat price.

Travest (Syd Race 8)

At the risk of trotting out the opening line of every footballer’s post-match interview, “Yeah, na, um, yeah, na…”. Maybe the Churchill quote re Russian allegiances for WWII fits better, “a riddle wrapped up in an enigma.” I just don’t know what to make of this fellow. Nor the decision by connections to bugger around with him in five and half, six furlong races where he’s no hope of tacking on early. On that score alone I think he’s been denied his chance to show his best, and I’m prepared to give him one more, provided they go to 1400m, and certainly provided he’s not sent out favourite again. A change of rider wouldn’t hurt either. I concede the point that he is slow maturing and needs racing education, but I would have thought there’s better places to master your trade than in $125k Saturday races at Royal Randwick.

Forget

Pitchfork (Syd Race 3)

Beaten fave his past two into this at midweek grade and some thrill seekers sought to send him out 2nd favourite in this, a step up to city grade. Gone at the 200m. No thanks.

Vadiyann (Syd Race 6)

Couldn’t back it with stolen money.

Mr Gee (Bris Race 6)

Tipped on top in a couple of leading form publications and sent out a clear 2nd pick. Possibly on the back of his ‘dominant’ Hawkesbury win where the two placegetters had a total of 83 starts and were still punching around over 10 furlongs in midweek provincial Bm64 grade. Proved no match for The Elanora whose past two starts have been a Group 3 win and a Saturday metro victory. Overrated plugger.