DOUBLE LIFE as a ring-in
In the early 1930's in Australia,
there was a pretty handy nag called Erbie. One suspects it was the
diminutive of Herbie but there is no official data to confirm this.
In fact according to the pedigree databases no record of Erbie exists
at all. Unlike other horses of the era, say Nightmarch, Erbie doesn't
rate a mention. Nightmarch? Yes bred in 1925 by Night Raid out of
Marsa and won 22 times from 69 starts - even gives you the races he
But Erbie? No way. He was
however no slouch as he won 23 races in New South Wales which was
fine and dandy (great name for a horse!). It was his four wins in
South Australia and elsewhere that got his trainer, Charlie Prince,
banged up for a couple of years and warned off racecourses for life.
It all came to light in
a July 1934 meeting at Murray Bridge in a "Trial" grade
race when a horse called Redlock bolted in after its price fell from
10/1 to 5/2 favourite. Melbourne's Herald Sun newspaper had a journalist
at that meeting whose name was Bert Wolfe and, because he knew Redlock
pretty well, asked if he could inspect the horse after he bolted in
with another race at a track that was then in operation at Kadina.
Erbie had a white blaze
which was a bit inconvenient as Redlock didn't and Wolfe found dye
that had been used to mask the blaze on the supposed "Redlock".
In a newspaper "scoop"
he wrote that the quite quick Erbie had also raced as Duke Bombita
at a Holbrook race meeting and won at Kilmore as Chrybean as well
as the two SA meetings as Redlock who was, at the time of his two
wins, happily munching grass in a paddock at Sunbury in Victoria.
The game was up. Prince
was jailed for two years. It is unknown how much money was won with
Jump forward forty years
and the game was just the same. A used car salesman by the name of
Rick Renzella (great name for a salesman!) bought a very slow horse
called Royal School for $350 at a disposal sale with his eyes on trying
on a ring in. Well it worked brilliantly. "Royal School"
won by the length of the straight at Casterton in a low grade race.
In fact it nearly was by the length of the straight which immediately
sparked a stewards inquiry. On close inspection they found the horse
was in reality Regal Vista who'd previously won the Liston Stakes
at Caulfield in 1970.
Mr Renzella also copped
two years in the slammer.
Fine Cotton ring in? Well
we've all been bored with this amateur hour attempt so we won't re-hash
the 1984 fiasco - but have you heard about the Gentleman Jim scam?
Probably not. Back in 1903 Gentleman Jim was a pretty handy horse
owned by the delightfully named Jim "The Grafter" Kingsley.
Now you just know with a name like that it's going to be good. In
an April 1903 meeting at Newcastle, Gentleman Jim was sent out a very
big odds because he had to carry the massive weight of, what is in
today's terms, 68 kilos. Didn't deter The Grafter who had a poultice
on him and he won very very easily.Fights broke out in the weighing
in room after the race between Kingsley and bookmakers who claimed
they were scammed.
As the melee died down,
The Grafter was told by the stewards his horse weighed in 13 kilos
light but Kingsley stamped his foot and demanded a recount at which
point the scales correctly showed 68 kilograms.
in the afternoon, officials discovered a trapdoor giving access to
an area beneath the scales where they found a boy and next to him,
a lead weight for 13 kilograms. The stamping on the floor was the
signal to attach the weight to the bottom of the scale.
Jim's other recent wins were investigated and more tunnels found below
weigh-in rooms at other race courses. Kingsley was banned from all
racetracks, a penalty he often ignored.
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