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Fairly Superstitious

'Greenery' is the Pantone Colour Institute’s 2017 Colour of the Year, which means it’ll no doubt be a strong fashion trend on track, especially come Spring. Unfortunately for some racegoers, the sight of so much green may send shivers up their spine, as it’s an old racing superstition that wearing green on track is very unlucky.

I wore green to the races once… It was Gold Coast Magic Millions Day 2005 and my father's horse Snitzel, was running in the 2yo Classic. He was the unbeaten favourite going into the race but he'd drawn a wide barrier, got stuck out wide throughout the race and finished third… Whilst I'd like to believe my choice of outfit didn't determine this outcome, I have never worn a green outfit to the races since!

This is not a superstition Gai Waterhouse believes in, as she wears the colour regularly including when Fiorente won the Melbourne Cup. It got me thinking about other industry superstitions that might be out there so I did some digging, made some calls and found some of these beauties. Turns out 'horse people' tend to be a fairly superstitious bunch:

  • Plenty of punters have a rule to have their first bet on the first jockey and /or trainer they see after they arrive at the track.

  • If you put a bet on the wrong horse, never change that bet as it is guaranteed to win if you change it.

  • Except for Epsom Day 2016, Winx's main owner, Debbie Kepitis, has worn the same blue outfit every time the mare has stepped out on the track. Despite Winx still demolishing her competitors that day, Debbie can't bring herself to wear something else.

  • Journalists needn't bother contacting trainer Mick Kent for a pre-race interview, he avoids them at all costs. Mick isn't the only one either!

  • According to the Racing B*tch blog, most Hong Kong stables, and the Hong Kong Jockey Club, will hold a bai san ceremony at the start of each season where gifts are offered to the gods for good luck during the season.

  • You'll also see lots of red at Hong Kong racetracks as it is considered a lucky colour in the Chinese culture.

  • Jockey Chris Symons won't put on his goggles until he's behind the barriers and he has to use the same pen when he does his form.

  • Don’t let anyone else buy your race book or form guide for you.

  • One white foot on a horse is considered good luck whilst four white feet is unlucky (although this doesn’t apply to the four-white footed US champion racehorse California Chrome!)

  • Ted Byrne, a jumps jockey in the 1960's, always carried a St Christopher medal (the patron saint of travelers) in his gear bag. He was also said to have the dirtiest racing gear of any rider, because he kept all the old gear he had been successful with and liked to use the 'lucky' pieces every time he rode.

  • Queensland jockey Paul Hammersley always puts his left riding glove on first.

  • My younger brother Blake will relegate a new tie to the back of the cupboard if he has a bad day the first day he wears it, whilst Erin Angland, wife to jockey Tye, has put a pair of scissors through outfits she’s worn to the races when Tye has had a fall.

  • Horse shoes are considered lucky and ward off bad spirits, but only if held upright - you don't want to let the luck run out. Horse nails bent into a circle also do the trick.

  • Do not change a horse's name - this one is a little hard to avoid if your horse is being imported from overseas.

  • Apparently the deeper a stallion dips his nostrils into water when he drinks, the better sire he will be.

  • In the USA, it's not uncommon that if a jockey is given a brand new set of silks to wear, he'll throw them on the ground and stomp on them essentially saying 'the silks have now hit the ground so I won't."

Drop me a line if you know of any others, I'd love to hear them!

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