I battled with another bidder at Inglis sales to secure an ordinary looking yearling for a measley $7,000. "Why would you want that horse?", the other bidder asked. "To win the Melbourne Cup with", I replied.

Winning the Melbourne Cup and playing for Fitzroy in a Premiership were my boyhood dreams. I played for Richmond and nowhere near a premiership… but I had one dream left.

Rising Fear was that horse. We called him Tojo, as a stable name.
I took him home and broke him in.

He had won a string of good Sydney races and I was now certain he could win the Melbourne Cup.

I had spent months training him to pick up a replica of the Melbourne Cup in his teeth. Then, he would replace the Cup on the table and bow. Tojo was a willing learner for him it broke the boredom of stable life.

When I hopped on him he would prance and kick. When I put my 3yo son on him he would tippy toe around the front lawn, stopping to jerk him back into the centre of his back. Tojo was no oil painting but he was special.

I took him to the Brisbane carnival and he came home with the O’Shea Stakes, a 2nd in the QLD Derby and a 3rd in the 2-mile Brisbane Cup all in ten days.

He was a tough 3yo now and had qualified for a start in the 2 mile Melbourne Cup.

We picked up the Colin Stephens Quality Hcp at Randwick, a 2nd in the NSW Derby and off in a plane to Melbourne.

Now to take on the international horses in the big one.

I had ridden him in most of his track work and stayed most nights in the stable with him when interstate. He would fret in a strange place.

Now he was as ready as I could get him. Carrying my weight in all his track work made the weight of the jockey feel like a feather.

He was rock-hard fit but fresh from sand dune work and long swims in the ocean at Terrigal. He lit up when he saw the expanse of a verdant track.

He had pipe-opener on the Saturday in the Dalgetty, running home nicely for 6th.

He was now cherry ripe for the big one.

I had engaged Malcolm Johnson, as he had already won on the horse and knew him well.

On the Sunday, Malcolm rang me to say he was going back to Sydney as he had a full book with Doc. Chapman on the Tuesday. "Shit, shit, shit, shit!"

I got hold of the only unengaged rider left I knew, Bob Skelton the trouble was he was a Kiwi and I didn’t like Kiwis much, especially Kiwi jockeys.

He agreed to ride my horse.

"I want you to come down to Mornington and run him up the last 400m on Tuesday morning" I said to Bob. "I need you to get the feel of him." Bob did let him run home the last four, hard held, through the Mornington mist.

Bob dismounted, "This horse will sprint, Larry", he told me. My heart sank. I knew he wouldn’t, he couldn’t. He was a dour one-paced stayer. He would win the Melbourne Cup if he was allowed to bowl along in front at his own pace.

But how does a cartoonist explain anything equine to a Kiwi jockey, I berated Bob and told him to forget all about this sprinting crap.

I rang Singo and told him to catch the next plane to Melbourne. "We’re bringin home the Melbourne Cup, mate!"

I knew there was not a horse in the world that could beat him over two miles that day.

I had spent two years training him for just this one race, but only one day training a jockey to ride him.

Singo was on the next plane with his pockets full of cash.
Rising Fear stayed a firm 50/1 in the ring.

I legged up Skelton with deadly serious instructions. I looked him straight in his two little glassy goanna eyes: "Take him to the front after the end of the straight, let him bowl along, balanced. At the 800 drop your hands and let him do it all by himself, do not hit ‘im! He knows what to do."

"Ok Larry, mate", I could hear him thinking: "What would he know about a horse?"

He trotted out on to the track to greet a 90,000 screaming crowd.
I could see Tojo coming back to scale and me pressing my thumb into his nearside foreleg muscle. That was his signal. He would pick up the Cup in his teeth and raise it high in the air. The photo would be rocketed around the world in an instant.

My son and stable-foreman, Jamie, Singo and I climbed the stairs to our seats.

We were sitting a good 100 metres back from the winning post. The whole place reeked of tradition, and importance.

Phar Lap had graced this track. Some of the other great horses I remembered seeing as a kid, selling racebooks at Caulfield, had raced into history on this same Flemington turf with honor and bravery.

When the barriers opened the roar was deafening.
By the end of the straight Skelton eased him out from 7th position, took him around the field and settled him beautifully into the lead, keen but relaxed.

He led the huge field up the back and around the far turn. He was still beautifully balanced with his ears pricked and still relaxed at the mile.

Tojo loved a big race and you could see him enjoying every metre of it. At the 800m Skelton had not dropped his hands but I wasn’t too worried. Tojo was fit and he would run the two mile right out.

They were on the home turn and he was still leading by three lengths. I looked back and they were starting to struggle behind him.

They straightened at the 400m and he was still in front by three lengths with plenty in the tank but now I could see the soles of Skelton’s fucking boots. He was still swinging on his mouth.

"Faaark! That bastard still thinks he will sprint!" I muttered. Tojo clearly had plenty of petrol in the tank but Skelton was refusing to let him go! He was convinced in his thick little head that he would explode at his command.

I instinctively stood up "Let ‘im go you fuckin’ idiot", I screamed. "Let ‘im go, he can’t be beat, let ‘im go!"

With 300m to go he was still in front with nothing gaining when out of the pack came the pride of the Arabs, At Alaq.

I knew At Alaq well, he was the only horse I was remotely scared of. He had a very short sprint. He raced two lengths past the hard-held Tojo. My idiot jockey now decided to let Tojo go.

He didn’t sprint. He couldn’t, because he can’t.

With his one even pace, he slowly set off after At Alaq with barely 150m left and with Skelton pointlessly belting the shit out of him.

He regained the two lengths on At Alaq who was predictably weakening.

Skelton ran him right up the rump of At Alaq. It appeared to be in slow motion, there was a sort of silence above the roar. Then Skelton reefed him out to get around At Alaq and had to get him re-balanced all over again.

Even at the end of two miles Tojo, who had been headed by two lengths, slowly wore down that horse inch by inch. He had the strength to come again and that just simply doesn’t happen for a horse at the end of two miles.

He was gaining every stride. The post loomed. One length, half a length, a neck. Within 10 metres of the post, I watched him lunge at At Alaq with every ounce of strength remaining in his brave, exhausted body. The crowd erupted.

Tommy Smith, sitting 4 or 5 seats along, jumped in the air, he stuck his head out from the line of people and looked at me, his hands high, "You’ve won Larry!"

Singo stood up shocked.

Jamie put an arm around my neck… "We’ve won Dad!"
I thought how happy my family would have been at home watching on TV.

But I wasn’t sure. We were a long way from the post and the photo judge was taking what seemed like an hour and anyway how could he possibly have won when that little Kiwi had done just about everything possible to ensure he couldn’t.

The photo showed Tojo had lost the Melbourne Cup when he should have won by at least two lengths. When he returned to scale, Skelton refused to look at me, he knew he had cost us the Cup.

I got a $quarter mil. for second and another $quarter mil. in bets.

Christ knows what Singo won. He had trifectas and quinellas every which way but he reckoned if Tojo had won it would have been a collect of about $5 mil. (maybe $15 mil in today’s money)

The money didn’t matter, the Melbourne Cup did. Still does.

Here’s the finish

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NoosaDuck
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NoosaDuck

Shit….

Twinkle
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Twinkle

This is my innocuous comment. Night all. Off to watch Q&A.

wayneshilds
Member
wayneshilds

They killed a horse?

CrotchRot
Member
CrotchRot

Haha great story Larry. By the way where can i get a copy of that horse tipping program of yours, got a taste for betting on the ol gigi’s at the moment. Cant find a link on your website.

busterhooks
Member
busterhooks

the American indians rode horses for how long? and what about the Arabs, Mongolians how long have they been riding horses, its not like it something relative new after all

Jackieboy
Member
Jackieboy

Great story LDP. I remember the race and thought at the time Rising Fear was “unlucky”. You have unravelled the mystery after 27 years. But I too had backed him each way and had a handy return. Owners/ trainers don’t get many chances to even get a start in a race like the Melbourne Cup let alone be in with a winning chance.. I can well understand why Mr Skelton is not on the top of your Christmas card list..

busterhooks
Member
busterhooks

makes perfect sense to me ‘ohreally’ sounds like something out of Alice in Wonderland’

busterhooks
Member
busterhooks

Has anyone read the latest blog on michaelsmithnews, re flying lesson fees to be paid? I wonder if labor/greens had of stayed in office we would have started seeing crap like this come up.

Sweetpea
Member
Sweetpea

Wait and see – I will cop it tonight, I have already been told to go and lick my balls and play in the traffic…….trouble is my testes have been removed and I was adopted from the lost dogs home because I am old and was hit by a car, partially blind, deaf and nobody wanted me. Maybe I need to go and give SG a cuddle.

Sweetpea
Member
Sweetpea

MMID they would all jump the fence, literally.

MMiD
Member
MMiD

A Murdoch clean out team going through the ABC…now there’s an image to savour.

2BobsWorth
Member
2BobsWorth

Rowlands on 24/7 this morning fulfilling his role of ALP free to air spokesman. When will these lightweights come to understand they were DUMPED, gone and forgotten. Come on Turnbull, start at the top and weed out these left wing propogandists.

MrScorpio
Member
MrScorpio

The Greens, the ABC and ‘The Age’ have not yet accepted they lost the election. Given the policies I guess at the risk of repeating myself add Labor, Rudd, Gillard (who?) and Flannery.
When you put it all together in one little group like that it really is not hard to see how they exchange Leftist ideas.

paisley
Member
paisley

Big Dicks mate Conroy is slowly being exposed as a crook over the NBN roll out. By the time Turnbull gets finished with his checking of contracts, and what work has actually been done, we will know what a big ball of hot hair this guy really is. Conroy has never done a real job in his life, leaving university he went straight into backroom jobs for the Labor party, and is the muscle of the Victorian right fraction. He was the man that got Marles, Shorten and Dreyfus into parliament against the advice of Crean. And do not forget… Read more »

craigh
Member
craigh
GeorgeGoring
Member
GeorgeGoring

I stay away from the favourite, as the odds on it winning, in the Cup, at least, are less than enticing. Unfortunately, for me, this was the favourite’s, Gai Waterhouse, D. Oliver and every other astute punter’s year. I had 2nd. and 3rd. but they don’t pay 66% on 2/3 for a trifecta. Punting. A mug’s game.

craigh
Member
craigh

Tuesday, November 5, 2013Savage, Hitchens, Rosin and Greer on Q and A Last night’s episode of Q and A was a memorable one. As usual the panel was heavily stacked to the left. They usually have three lefties against two conservatives. But this was three on one. Needless to say Germaine Greer, Dan Savage and Hanna Rosin ganged up on fusty fighter Peter Hitchens, even chuckling together when he was speaking. (The photo chosen for the web page for the episode actually illustrates one of these moments. Must have pleased the producer, or something …) Dan Savage was particularly annoying.… Read more »

1rdoval@gmail.com
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1rdoval@gmail.com

Flysa, are all the horses that didn’t take part in the race going to be fined?

pissedoff
Member
pissedoff

my sentiments larry the old horse won me a few bob

EsraStar
Member
EsraStar

I’le just close the door and let you lot sort it out,,don’t break any furniture,,and no biting,,ok?

GeorgeGoring
Member
GeorgeGoring

70% of thoroughbred horses end up as pet food. The attrition rate is shocking. There is no future for an underperforming race horse. If they are lucky they end up in a pony club or as police horses. They perform well for the constabulary as they are used to lots of noise, close intense action and have been well trained.

Eunita
Member
Eunita

Hubby came and said you’re won in the office sweeps. Yeah? How much? $4.00.

EsraStar
Member
EsraStar

or off it,,but no arguments.

EsraStar
Member
EsraStar

lets keep on topic.

EsraStar
Member
EsraStar

I’m calling a truce here,,,Oh? Diddums?,,,please return to your respective corners,,,the bout is over.Now come on,,,xxx and make up.We don’t like agro here.

swagman
Member
swagman

Off subject, but about a winner just the same.
I see the workers at Holden got a 3% wage increase and here I was thinking they were in financial trouble and were asking us taxpayer for handouts. Silly me, what was I thinking.

busterhooks
Member
busterhooks

ah the mind boggles wonderful stuff, sarah bawling two fathers could make the presentations and ban horse racing and keep the cup for herself

busterhooks
Member
busterhooks

the greens would hire a consultive firm to nominate a committee to make suggestions which one could be made the winner, depending on which horse had the least amoung of carbon emissions

busterhooks
Member
busterhooks

Well did Palmer have a nag running, if he did? =;)

busterhooks
Member
busterhooks

I would like to see a race meeting organised by the socialist, no winners and no losers

MickFromBrissy
Member
MickFromBrissy

Off topic,Greens have been quiet the last few days,where are you Milne,Sarah 2 dads,Sarah Bath,miss you Not

cryptonium
Member
cryptonium

I hope the AEC was assisting the stewards and the finish line judge. Thye would have lost the photo.

Druid
Guest
Druid

Classic seeing Gai Waterhouse blow Leigh Sales off on 7.30 retort… She has no time for idiots. Great ride by Oliver…under a nice motor. A fine day at the local pub….ladies dressed up, tales of a new adult adult government and business confidence back, and remembering Larry’s tilt…have another crack…you have a ready made syndicate in a horse called Pickeringpost.

BTT
Member
BTT

I like the Melbourne Cup , I just won $76 bucks.

EsraStar
Member
EsraStar

Not that there is anything wrong with that!

craigh
Member
craigh

The Vic premier presented the cup. The GG wasn’t missed till someone reminded me she usually does the deed.

boronic
Member
boronic

sounds as if yrve lost yr dummy-get over it

busterhooks
Member
busterhooks

I’m claiming lateral thinking for that one lol

busterhooks
Member
busterhooks

I reckon the one that is gonna make an appearance in a PAL tin of dog food should be made a post mortem winner, after all it made the altimate sacrifice

TheUntouchables
Member
TheUntouchables

Just shopping around it seems very hard to find a copy of ‘Australia’s Secret War’ by Hal Colebatch. I asked at a major book retailer in Melbourne CBD yesterday and that had nothing on their system for it, meanwhile neither Dymocks or Readings have it on their websites which I thought all very strange given the significance of the book as such releases are usually front of store stuff. Not big on conspiracy theories but just wondering has any pressure been applied from certain groups associated with the Labor Movement not to stock or promote it. Anyway can someone please… Read more »

boronic
Member
boronic

that’s ok–

boronic
Member
boronic

hi-larry,really enjoyed your story—do feel for you—bloody kiwis-lol.

boronic
Member
boronic

that’s life—obviously yr not a country girl

boronic
Member
boronic

can you explain that 1

Eunita
Member
Eunita

Hahahahaha. Me too, although I would never admit it!!

boronic
Member
boronic

some people have very secluded lives—-

craigh
Member
craigh

Must be the first year the Governor General hasn’t presented the MC, wonder why?

Twinkle
Member
Twinkle

IE. I could welcome back Ray, without the swearing.