February 18

“If he’s good enough, he’ll win” – Shane Dye



Confident Shane Dye
Confident Shane Dye

In sports, having confidence in yourself and faith in your preparation is 90% of the battle. This quote by champion jockey Shane Dye was at the ‘Breakfast with the Champions’ prior to the running of the 1996 Cox Plate. Asked whether tactics would play a big part in the race, his exact reply was “I don’t worry too much. I’ll just sit back, go around them, if he’s good enough he’ll win.”


I’ve since heard this saying many times from racing people on their chances of winning various races on any given day. It highlights the dynamic, and to put it mildly, the very fickle world of thoroughbred racing. Racing people can move on quicker than anybody because there’s no time to worry about the last race, there’s barely enough time to focus on the next race. There’s a lesson that every person at any level of sports or exercise can take away from the ‘glue farmers.’


If you’re good enough, you’ll win. If your’e not, you won’t.


So what are you going to do about it? After the event there’s nothing that you can do except look for the next opportunity. Before the event, immediately before that is, there’s really nothing you can do either. You’re best off to accept what you’ve done in the preparation, have confidence that you can replicate that and go out and do it.


In any case, the money that you have in the bank is all that you can draw out. If that amount is not much then don’t overdraw and pay a bigger price later (Alan Bond style). I had this conversation recently about the hype of big days getting inside people’s heads and leading to a net loss at the end of the day. Shane Dye was not going to let the hype of the occasion dictate how he was going to perform. He knew what he could do and what his mount was capable of and that’s all that mattered. To flog his stead all the way down the final furlong when the race race was well and truly gone, was futile.


I’ve heard a million tales, and told plenty of my own, of participants who know they are kidding themselves but go like a ‘bull at a gate’ before blowing a ‘fufu’ valve some time soon after. The result: worse than what they would have got if they just kept their head in the right place. You’re best off just being relaxed and comfortable with what you have got in the bank and spending all of that on the big day. Don’t try to rub shoulders with Range Rover driver’s when you drive a Datsun 120Y.


Shane Dye lined up in, to that stage, the most glittering Cox Plate field ever assembled, aboard the impressive three year old, Anthems, which ultimately would finish well back in the field. And so he should have against a field of that boasted more senior turf champions such as, Saintly, Filante and All Our Mob, but what is significant about Dye’s performance in the lead up to and during the race is that he did not try to achieve something extraordinary on a beast that wasn’t up to it.


The final performance is the sum of the preparation, plus or minus 1-2%. Winning is the best possible result for yourself on the day, not leading the field for two hundred metres like the guy dressed as Superman in the City2Surf.


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