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By David Fowler | Tuesday, November 17, 2020

David Fowler is the principal thoroughbred caller for Radio TAB. David, who is a keen form student and punter, has enjoyed a lifetime involvement in the racing media. His personal blog, ‘My Call’, appears exclusively on HRO.

Jonker’s stunning Keith Noud win at Doomben at the weekend exemplified a point I’ve been banging on about for sometime.

In case you were living under a rock, Jonker humiliated his 15 rivals, breaking the champion Takeover Target’s 15 year-held 1200m track record.

In a display of what could only be described as precocious speed, he stopped the clock at 1:7.83, delivering splits of 34.55 and 33.28.

As I outlined more than once on radio over the weekend, this is a track and distance record that has earned its stripes. It commands respect.

Yet, maybe as little as a year ago, I would have had my cranky pants on saying, “how can this happen?” “How could he turn his form around?” “Look at his form”.

Life is fascinating that you never stop learning or at least have the potential to never stop learning.

For way too long, I, any maybe many others, became too welded to the form-guide and the video.

It’s an easy and comfortable trap to fall into and I did it meticulously year after year.

And it’s an easy defence mechanism when a result doesn’t go your way. You wave the form-guide or point to the video.

“See, there it is.”

Horses become inanimate objects going down this path and it’s a foolhardy road to take.

Let’s examine Jonker.

While always trying to cling on to a reputation, he disappointed too often and even his most loyal fans began to desert him.

Yet, in this case, a change of stable has triggered a stunning turnaround.

Different environment? Different climate? Different training regime?

An experienced trainer once offered me sound advice.

“A horse must have ability. A slow horse with no ability will always be slow but a horse with ability may lose its way but it won’t lose the ability.”

Makes sense.

Another pertinent example where a horse’s numerical form should be treated with caution is concerning two and three-year-olds.

It’s not drawing a long bow that this group are like young children who have the potential to mature physically and mentally.

In my interviews with trainers on RadioTAB a consistent question is “how has it developed during its break? “

The answers vary but it’s often a significant lead to a potential improvement.

Two horses that I part own in Adelaide, Tequila Time and Another Award, were “just” in their first campaigns but took a quantum leap the second time around.

I should have been heeding first-hand knowledge.

And, of course, there are other aspects such as a raft of gear changes.

Naturally, the form-guide and the video are our strongest punting tools, but they can’t get inside the horse’s head or body.

And only Mr Ed could talk.

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David Fowler
David Fowler
Jonker stops the clock in a new track record time at Doomben on Saturday

Photo: Darren Winningham
Jonker stops the clock in a new track record time at Doomben on Saturday

Photo: Darren Winningham
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