Horse sense for the track

Not a punter but tempted because it's the Year of the Horse? Then you better read what Brian Miller ( has to say about punting, picking and pantang*
*Malay for taboo

Race-goers are a superstitious bunch.

Some carry lucky charms to the track, queue at a particular betting window and bet on horses whose jockeys' silks are of a certain colour.

It's really no big deal.

Superstitions are an inherent part of any sport - with racing being no exception.

Indeed, most of us who frequent the track are familiar with the superstitions involving horses.

So, perhaps now is a good time to revive some of them, if only for the benefit of my punting pals at Kranji.

After all, this being the Year Of The Horse, surely some of them are beginning to believe this could be "their" year.

To help them on their road to riches, here are some tips on how the majestic horse could become an even better friend.

Of course, the best thing to do is to buy a horse and let your fortune ride on it.

But, as most of us cannot afford the experience - some say it's like having another wife - the next best thing is to get a horseshoe and hang it above the door of your home.

But as superstition has it, make sure it is upward-facing - like a "U", otherwise your luck will run out just as fast as the horse you didn't back, wins the race.

But, hold your horses, there's more.

Not all horseshoes are lucky.

Legend has it, the really lucky ones must come off the hoof of a racehorse and not any other nag.

You cannot go out and buy a box of horseshoes and hope for a bucketful of blessings. It doesn't work that way.

One more thing - the luckiest shoes are said to come from the rear leg of a grey or white mare. Go figure.

While on the subject of grey and white, if you are thinking of getting another wife - I mean, buying a horse - be wary of the white "stockings" on its legs.

There's a popular ditty which lends credence to this belief. It goes something like this: "One white foot, buy him. Two white feet, try him. Three white feet, be on the sly. Four white feet, pass him by".

Yes, white "stockings" on a horse are considered unlucky.

An old wives' tale? Perhaps.

But, hey, quirky or not, all of it adds to the romance of the turf.


So when you are at the track this afternoon, pay close attention to the horses in the parade ring because, superstition has it, if a horse steps out of its stall right foot first, it is a good sign.

But if you really need a healthy dose of divine intervention, you have to make sacrifices - like getting out of bed early in the morning.

No, it's not to watch the horses working out in the light of dawn. Leave that to the professional track-watchers.

Your mission is simpler. Just position yourself near a stable, sit quietly and listen carefully.

You see, there's another ditty which has been passed down the ages. It goes like this: "If the first sound you hear is a horse's neigh, it just might be your lucky day".

So much for that.

The number 8 is seen as lucky, especially at this time of the year.

But if you are planning to spend the weekend at a racetrack in India, you would be well advised to avoid having a punt on any horse with saddlecloth No. 8 jumping from stall No. 8. That's supposed to be really bad luck.

Now, how about names?

Old wives' tales have it that the best name for a horse is one which contains just seven letters.

It's hard to dispute this when just last Sunday, three horses with seven letters to their names - Goliath, Inspire and Gold Run - won at the races.

While you are scanning the racecard in the newspapers for horses with seven-letter names, you might also want to look out for names with the letter "R" as the third character.

According to myth and legend, it's supposed to be really and truly auspicious.

So, there you have it.

A day at the racetrack should be fun. And, if having a flutter on the horsies adds to the excitement, so be it.

After all, among the animals in the Chinese zodiac, the horse is without equal for speed, stamina and heart - which is why the thoroughbred is fully deserving of the patronage lavished on it by all connected with racing - and there's nothing quirky about that. P.S: English folklore has it that witches hate horses. So, if your girlfriend has been giving you the heebie-jeebies lately, put her to the test. Invite her to the races. If she kicks up a fuss and doesn't want to go, then you know for sure. In conjunction with the Chinese New Year, the Singapore Turf Club (STC) has lined up a host of activities.

What's on at the Turf Club

Off-course, the STC is partnering organisers for the following:


The STC is partnering with Singapore Philatelic Museum to create awareness of the Club's history dating back to 1842.

"Members of the public can understand the origins of horse racing in Singapore," said an STC spokesman.

"The exhibition will also explore the history and development of horses, from the early wild years to THE present day's highly selective breeds.

"The interactive exhibition will showcase over 200 exhibits which include collections of stamps, historical postcards and horse gears."

Held at the Singapore Philatelic Museum's Atrium, the exhibition started yesterday and will run until May 31. It is open from Monday 1pm to 7pm, and Tuesday to Sunday 9.30am to 7pm.

The entrance fee is $6 for adult and $4 for children. Admission is free for Singapore citizens and permanent residents.


The STC is also collaborating with the People's Association by bringing horses to Chingay. The horses will lead the parade.

"There will also be fringe activities, such as horse patting and feeding before the start of the event," said the STC spokesman.

The parade will be held at the F1 Pit Building on Friday and Saturday from 5pm to 10pm.

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