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S10E06 – Bloodlines

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If anyone tells you Horses by Daryl Braithwaite isn’t Australia’s national anthem they’re a filthy liar

JB is in Virginia hanging out at her pal Matt Cleveland’s place, where she is writing a new book set in horse racing land. Matt is a horse trainer currently training celebri-horse Swift Prince, and so knows a thing or two about such things. His daughter Jill just happens to be the jockey on board so you know there’s that too. Also he’s Mickey Rooney.

Naww. 

Matt is so excited with the Prince’s hot lap that he puts a call in to two of the owners, Catherine Noble and Wally Hampton. They are stoked with the Prince’s time and assure Matt that they will convince the third owner Lloyd Mentone that the hose must race that weekend.

Spoiler alert: this entire episode is basically this:

I don’t understand how Mickey Rooney isn’t playing an old retired jockey actually.

Anyway.

Jess, Matt and Jill head back to Matt’s cottage, while up at the big house Catherine Noble (aka Tippi Hendren) informs her daughter Tracey that Swift Prince will be racing on the weekend. Tracey is delighted, she needs the prize money to fund another 100 guests for her upcoming wedding to Wally’s son Paul. UGH. Catherine tells her the money isn’t going to cover her debts, they are inches away from losing the farm completely, and are counting on Paul approving a bank loan.

That afternoon, Lloyd Mentone is furious to discover that his co-owners have entered the horse in a race when he was focussed on stud fees. Apparently, the horse was recovering from a serious injury and Lloyd thinks it’s a big risk, but he’s overridden. It also turns out that Paul Hampton and Jill once had a thing before he got talked into falling in love with Tracey. Paul looks miserable and later refuses to stay for a drink with his father, who wonders what’s wrong. Paul asks him what he wants, and Wally says for Paul to quit the bank and return to managing the stud, but he’d settle for his audit.

Meanwhile, JB is back at work on her book when she gets a visit from Lloyd, who tells her he grew up watching races from the tower at Saratoga (righto mate) and that he’s concerned about Swift Prince’s race. JB tells him she’s sure Matt and the others know what they’re doing, also the tower at Saratoga wasn’t built when Lloyd was growing up.

Ouch. Burn!

Getting nowhere with JB, Lloyd’s next stop is to see assistant trainer Gus Tardio aka Don Swayze as if you couldn’t tell.

Like Hungry Eyes, except not at all.

Gus is moping because Matt got made head trainer over him. Lloyd orders Gus back to work, and sober since that’s what he’s paying him for. Gus returns back to the stable to find life has pretty much gone on without him and Matt sacks him for being a douche.

Tracey visits Paul at work, where he’s trying to secure her mother’s loan and says she can’t wait until the wedding so he can quit his silly banking job and run the stables. Paul tells her he happens to like his banking job but she says that’s only because his father doesn’t.

Later that night JB is slaving away over her laptop when she hears bangs and crashes from the stable. She rushes to see and finds Matt staggering around after copping a whack on the head. Jill helps him to stand while JB carefully extracts a syringe from a pile of hay. OH YOU GUYS IT’S A NEEDLE IN A HAYSTACK.

While the vet has Swift Prince tested for performance-enhancing drugs, Sheriff Clyde Benson wants to know who might have been behind it. The consensus is Gus, but JB can’t see what his motive is and Wally Hampton agrees. Clyde thinks it’s more likely that one of the horse’s connections might have done it, but he’ll swing by Gus’s and see. Wally begs him to keep it quiet until they know if the horse was actually injected and Clyde says he’s happy to do them a favour as long as it’s within the law.

Alright Clyde, calm down.

The next day Catherine gets a call to say that Swift Prince is all clear, and there was much rejoicing by Tracey and by JB for wildly different reasons. Down at the bank, Paul gets a visit from Lloyd who wants Paul to convince Catherine to scratch the horse from the race, or else some finance peeps are going to find out that Catherine lied on her loan application and Paul approved it. Paul throws him out.

Over at the farm, Catherine confronts Matt (who turns out used to work for her before he worked for Wally) and says she wants a more experienced jockey on the horse because SHE NEEDS THE MONEY OMG WEDDINGS DON’T PAY FOR THEMSELVES AND TRACEY IS A PRINCESS etc etc. Matt tells her it’s in his contract – he trains, he picks the jockey. Later that afternoon he tells JB he has a plan for shaving 3 seconds off Swift Prince’s time and waves a videotape around.

That night, Jill runs into Paul and they go get dinner together. JB finds Matt rushing out the door, telling her he’ll explain later. Jess hears some car doors slam, and gets back to work. As a car drives way, Gus appears out of the bushes, like this but in reverse.

Tracey turns up a while later looking for Paul, but Jess says he’s been gone about an hour so they decide to have dinner together instead. On their way into town, they find Matt’s truck parked on the side of the road, and Matt dead on the ground.

BASTARDS KILLED MICKEY ROONEY THIS WILL NOT STAND.

Clyde comes to the house to take statements, but he’s fairly convinced Matt was killed by a hobo in a robbery gone wrong. Jess thinks this is highly unlikely, and doubly so when Clyde tells her there was no sign of the videotape Matt had been waving around.

After checking in with Catherine, who it turns out was supposed to meet Matt with Wally but he never showed, Jess goes to search Matt’s office for the tape, but it’s gone. She does, however, find the envelope and puts a call in to the offices of Sportrack to find out what Matt had requested. She also finds a notepad, and with the classic pencil rub finds VICTOR WY etched onto the pad. Fun fact, WY apparently means Wyoming. Victor means Victor I guess.

Sportstrack is a surprisingly efficient company, and they deliver another copy of the tape to Jess the next day. She watches it with Jill, but they don’t know why Matt was so interested in it. Catherine and Wally come over and tell Jill they’re getting another jockey for the race.  Down at the bank, Lloyd pops in for a chat with Paul, but Paul tears up Catherine’s loan contract and tells him to do his worst. Paul quits.

Paul is getting his groove back completely, his next stop is to see Catherine but instead, he finds Tracey who accuses him of ignoring her to spend time with Jill, so he calls off the wedding. YOU GO BOYFRIEND.

Drunk on his own power, Paul heads down to the racetrack to wish Catherine and Wally well for the race the following day, but Catherine tells him to go to hell. Paul and Jill watch the substitute jockey fail completely with Swift Prince. Paul tells Jill to let Catherine come to her and to say maybe at least once. Paul, you’re alright.

Meanwhile, Jess is still trying to catch a murderer. She has a chat with Clyde who is convinced Gus is guilty, but when he shows her the wrong piece of paper she suddenly realises why Matt had been so excited the night he died. They rush over to the racetrack just in time to catch Lloyd about to inject Swift Prince, who isn’t Swift Prince at all but a horse called Victor Way that Lloyd swapped so that he could make more money or some such business. Victor Way was going to make money as a stud horse, the real Swift Prince was off making money in South America.

But he didn’t kill Matt.

UNSURPRISED

Trust me on this, it’s got to do with car doors and Tracey running into Matt as he was about to tell her mother and worrying that the scandal would put an end to her wedding.

Whatevs. The important thing is, Jill wins the race on Victory Way and there’s champagne for everyone.

Later gang!

 

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S07E16 – From the Horse’s Mouth

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Fletcherfans, I think we all learned a valuable lesson last week about multi-tasking. I shouldn’t try and write while Richmond are playing, and Richmond shouldn’t throw away 35 point leads in the last quarter.

Let’s not dwell on that.

JB is in Kentucky putting bets on for our old friend Harry McGraw when she bumps into her friend, veterinarian Dr Christy Morgan and her fiancee Todd Sterling. It seems they are destined to remain engaged for awhile, until their fathers can stop feuding. That old chestnut. BOOM HORSE PUN.

But now I’d like to discuss possibly my favourite one-time character in this whole series:

Next Derby Day I'm wearing that outfit.

Next Derby Day I’m wearing that outfit.

Emmaline Bristow can talk to horses, so naturally she’s at the stables wishing all the horses good luck in their race and getting the latest equine gossip. One horse, Big Palooka, tells her he has a terrible headache, which is bad news for Harry since he got JB to put 200 down on him. Emmeline bumps into Christie’s father, Lamar, who wonders if any of the horses mentioned who would win the race.

“Oh Lamar. Horses can’t predict the future.” Says Emmaline. GEEZ LAMAR GET WITH IT.

A token blonde wanders past, excited to meet Lamar Morgan, but more excited to serve him papers. Todd’s father, Randolph Sterling, is suing.

Trackside, Randolph is taking a constitutional with his lady-friend Althea Mayberry (played by someone credited as Woman in Titanic). Althea is trying to talk Randolph into a cruise but Randolph has big things to worry about, like getting his stallion King Paragon laid. They are soon joined by Randolph’s daughter Diana with news on that score – some Japanese businessmen have expressed an interest in King Paragon and so Diana orders Althea to make sure sake is on tap when they come by the farm. Althea is delighted to be promoted to caterer. And by delighted I mean not happy.

Althea spots Christy, Todd and JB walking towards them and remarks how good Christy and Todd look together – Todd’s so handsome and Christy’s so full of life and virginal purity.

“What would you know about virginal purity?” Says Diana.

SICK BURN

SICK BURN

JB is reintroduced to everyone, and she tells Diana the last time she saw her she was home from university in England. Turns out Diana was at Cambridge, until she got thrown out but then she married Lord Snowcroft, until she got tired of him and threw him out.

JB's a little impressed.

JB’s a little impressed.

Lamar interrupts this trip down memory lane brandishing the court notice and demanding an explanation. It turns out King Paragon went a-wanderin’ some enchanted evening and knocked up two of Lamar’s mares and Randolph wants compensation for – well something. Lamar says he doesn’t owe Randoph a cent, he had nothing to do with King Paragon getting loose and knocking up his mares, but Randolph doesn’t care. He’ll see Lamar in court. And with that he walks off, Althea and Diana on each arm.

The next day, JB visits Christy at the farm, to hear more about the nocturnal wanderings of King Paragon.

ARGH SO CUTE I CAN'T EVEN

ARGH SO CUTE I CAN’T EVEN

Christy says there are no witnesses and if they lose the court case they would lose the farm. The police haven’t been any help, so JB suggests a private detective she knows…

It's Harry's second last MSB episode! Things are WINDING DOWN.

It’s Harry’s second last MSB episode! Things are WINDING DOWN.

Harry tells JB he’s not taking any new cases just at the moment, but is forced to reassess the situation when the radio informs him his horse lost again.

Now we need to talk about this guy.

THIS GUY.

This is Melvin Belli.

Here are some things I’ve just learned about Melvin Belli. He defended Jack Ruby for killing Lee Harvey Oswald, he got a letter from the Zodiac Killer (it really annoys me they never caught that guy), he defended people like Errol Flynn, The Rolling Stones and Mae West, he once played a character on the original Star Trek, and whenever he won a court case he would raise the Jolly Roger flag on his office and fire a cannon off the roof.

For real. I never knew how much I wanted to fire a cannon off a roof until just now.

For now though, he is Judge Charlie Harley, and Randolph is on the phone to him trying to demand that his suit against Lamar Morgan is tried immediately if not sooner. Things don’t get better for Charlie when he asks for scotch and gets a soda water from his secretary instead.

Back at the Morgan’s farm, Christy and JB are relieved and surprised respectively when Harry turns up.

g2

heh heh heh

THEY CALLED EACH OTHER RHETT AND SCARLETT 

Harry reveals the owner of the sharp threads doesn’t actually know Harry borrowed them so if they could move this along so Harry can return the suit by Friday that would be grand.

JB and Harry head over to the Sterling house where a shindig is in full swing to drum up interest in King Paragon and his lovelife. While Randolph puts the squeeze on Charlie re: the court case, Harry investigates the bar situation and gets hit on by Althea. Althea’s moves are squashed by a drive-by from Diana reminding Althea that champagne ages the skin (nonsense, I drink it by the bucketload and I look fabulous) and that her hair could do with a colour job.

“Thank you Lady Chatterly.” Althea mutters. Zing!

Harry finds JB in conversation with Todd and Randolph and she introduces him to the group. “Randolph Sterling? The guy who owned Randolphs’ Rebel?”

“The same.” Says Randolph.

“Whatever happened to that nag?” Asks Harry.

Spoke like someone who watched Richmond play last week wait what nevermind

Spoke like someone who watched Richmond play last week wait what nevermind

Jess tells Randolph Harry is considering investing in a racehorse. “I hear you got the best around. Can I get a peek at King Paragon eh Randy?” Harry adds.

They all go out to the stables to see the stud’s finest in action. And I’m not talking about the horse.

LOOK AT HIS FACE SUCH SMOULDER BAHAHAHA

LOOK AT HIS FACE SUCH SMOULDER BAHAHAHA

Randolph announces that the minimum return for buying in on King Paragon’s…services…is 100 grand in the first year.

Harry is flabbergasted.

m2

n2

*Actual quote

Emmaline, also in attendance, is more concerned about King Paragon’s state of mind. Apparently he’s thoroughly depressed. “Wouldn’t you be?” She says to Harry. “Your body being used in that dreadful fashion?”

Steady on Harry.

Steady on Harry.

The King Paragon party is soon crashed by Lamar Morgan, drunk as a lord and informing Randolph he’d kill him before he paid him a cent. Todd escorts him outside to get some fresh air, while Diana mumbles something about family loyalties.

Back at the Morgan farm Christy is worried when Todd is still at the track and her father has disappeared, but Harry is on the case and calls in to let them know that Lamar is propping up a bar in town. As soon as she gets off the phone from Harry there is call from Todd – there’s been an accident at the track, one of the horses needs medical attention. They drive down to the track to find Randolph dead on the floor of his office.

The police arrive and quickly take charge. Sheriff Tyrone McKenna tells JB not to touch anything and she informs him she wasn’t touching she was reading – a note from Althea Mayberry saying how hurt she was by Randolph and that he’d be hearing from her attorney. Diana Sterling arrives, devastated but quick to remind them that Lamar had threatened to kill Randolph earlier that day. Lamar had called Diana, wanting to talk to Randolph and Diana was the one who told him her father was at the track. She breaks down and Todd takes her back to the house. Christy remembers that she was called about an injured horse and rushes out to the stables.

JB decides to walk Sheriff McKenna through the crime scene and points out the odd stain on Randolph’s jacket, hanging up on a hook. McKenna tells her that poking around crime scenes might be alright in the city, but he’s got a water moccassin by the tail and something something tread lightly.

Ain't nobody got time for that.

Ain’t nobody got time for that.

Jess decides to go find Christy/poke around in the stables, and finds Rex Manning attending to King Paragon, who had spooked, broke down his stable door and hightailed it across the paddock before Rex could catch him. (For those interested in fact based reporting, his character’s name is Derek Padley). Rex suspects the noise of the argument in the office might have spooked him, but when pressed he couldn’t say he recognised the voices. Christy reappears after attending to another injured horse and offers to x-ray King Paragon’s leg but Rex Manning tells her he knows best. Because he’s Rex Manning.

Back at the farm, Harry is pulling into the drive way with a well sloshed Lamar Morgan when the police pull him over. Harry is his belligerent self until Sheriff McKenna mentions murder.

Down at the police station, Lamar confesses he was at the track that night. He’d had an offer for one of his foals, and was hoping Randolph would agree to the sale provided the money was held in trust until after the court case but that clearly didn’t go well. Jess asks him if the fight was so loud that they didn’t hear King Paragon destroying his stall but he swears that noise would have stopped them cold.

Sheriff McKenna appears to tell JB that the stains on Randolph’s hands weren’t blood but hair dye. The stains on the jacket were blood, but not Randolph’s. Shout-out to Kentucky CSI for upping their game on that one. He bids them goodbye and departs. Harry has a speck of an idea floating in his brain about hair dye, and goes to see Althea Mayberry, who promptly busts a move on him but aborts when Harry casually wonders whether she was dying her hair when Randolph came to see her. She throws Harry out, Harry offers to take a raincheck on the tour of her bedroom.

The next day Harry asks JB about Lady Chatterley, and Jess explains that Lady Chatterley fell in love with her husband’s gamekeeper. Harry thinks it’s screwy, Diana isn’t married and there’s no gamekeeper in sight.  Not so screwy, says JB. Diana was married to Lord Snowcroft, and he had a large estate in England.

“Hunting game?” Says Harry.

“Racing horses.” JB says.

But he's trying and that's good.

But he’s trying and that’s good.

JB pops around to see Todd but instead finds Edie the housekeeper. She tells JB she heard a fight between Diana and Randolph earlier that week – Randolph was pissed at his daughter, saying she never did have good taste in men, while she told her father that Todd hated them.

Down at the police station Lamar is pestering Harry for more info about his investigation into King Paragon’s adventures with the mares, but Harry is more concerned about why Lamar is still being held, since Randolph wasn’t killed by a punch. Lamar tells him the blood on the jacket is his, a consequence of a busted up nose, but that his prints are also on the walking stick murder weapon, after he threw the stick away during the fight.

Later that night Harry, JB, Todd and Christy have a war meeting at the Morgan farm to decide what to do next. Jessica is sure that Lamar is innocent, but they need to prove someone else was at the stable that night – either by invitation or by knowing the security code. Todd and Christy head down to the track and Jess asks Harry if he knows anyone in the British racing industry – turns out Harry is friends with the Prince of Wales’s bookmaker (pfft) and he puts a call in to get more information on…

…cut to Judge Charlie Harley having a meeting in chambers where Christy, Todd and the defence attorney all requesting that the trial be held at King Paragon’s stables. Because that’s normal. Diana and her attorney bust in shouting I OBJECT (not true, whatever) and the judge decides a trip to the stable is in order. Apparently JB has located a surprise witness. King Paragon himself.

Emmaline steps up to conduct the interro-neigh-tion (nailed it)

Just amazing.

Just amazing.

After Emmaline asks a bunch of questions about King Paragon’s nightly wanderings, JB breaks in to request that she ask whether King Paragon’s name even is King Paragon, or if in fact it is Night Sword. Because apparently Night Sword was struck by lightening and killed. But what if it was King Paragon that was killed? And what if someone decided to dye the white sock on Night Sword’s leg brown to cover it up? And what if that someone got busted in the act of touching up the dye job by Randolph Sterling and so killed him to cover it up?

Say no more, mon amor.

Say no more, mon amor.

YASSSSS THIS MAKES ME HAPPY AND I DON’T KNOW WHY 

I feel like I’ve made insufficient horse puns in this episode, so if you think of some let me know. I think I’m still miserable from Richmond’s “effort” last week.

Until next week, then.

THESE TWO.

THESE TWO.

S02E08 – Dead Heat

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On the road and with a hankerin’ to gamble, Our Heroine stops over in a mysterious part of California to watch her jockey niece Tracey try and claim her first victory on the track. (Is anyone else ridiculously happy that JB’s niece is a jockey? Grady is seriously letting the team down with his general crapness). JB’s taxi driver tells her that Tracey’s ride is a nag (and we should always take advice from taxi drivers, especially ones that try and sell you drugs on the way home not that that happened to me), but after the regular jockey for stable favourite Anchors Ahoy falls ill, Tracey is promoted.

The trainerof Anchors Ahoy, Jack Bowen, offers his private box for Jess to watch the big race. American horse races don’t seem to be like Australian horse races – there’s no one fascinator in sight, there’s only 40,000 people there, not 110,000, everyone looks sober, and noone is smuggling casks of wine through the gate disguised as casks of water not that I’ve done that. In the box she meets Cliff and Christine Carpenter, who have a system for gambling so scientific it’s like Nate Silver devised them himself – greys never win on weekdays (Life Lesson #37) and winners come in threes, gate 6 has already produced two winners, so clearly the horse in gate 6 will win today!

Personally I'm going to stick to my tried and tested method of Betting on Bart.

That’s some good science right there.

That other woman is Vicky, the wife of Carlos the jockey who had to be taken to hospital. She decides to back Frost Boy, but about thirty seconds after she goes to back it the horse is scratched. I think we’ve all been there. There’s a lot of interest in Anchor’s Ahoy at 20-1, especially from the local Mafia representative Vince Shackman, who tries to suss out why there is so much money on an outsider. Even the horse’s vet Mike Gann has dropped a  lazy twenty g’s on the race.

After all the bets are in, the race is run and won – by Tracey, naturally. Our Heroine loses her shit and starts ordering champagne by the boatload but before she can pop her cork one of the stablehands runs past in a tizz. Jack Bowen has just turned up in the stall with a tranquillizer dart sticking out of him. The 5-0 arrive led by Lt Misko who promptly dismisses JB’s theories and sends her on her way. Our Heroine has no time to dwell on this however – Tracey is being escorted to the stewards office under suspicion of race fixing. She ends up being suspended, despite all the post-race tests showing that Anchor’s Ahoy wasn’t drugged (unlike the Essendon Football Club. BOOM).

Despite all this, Tracey still thinks something weird is going on. Before the race Jack Bowen gave her contradictory instructions about how to ride the race, and was staggered when these instructions actually worked. JB has a quiet word with Cookie the stablehand, who tells her that Vince Shackman had an interest in the race, and had been to see Mike Bowen before the race began. She then quizzes Carlos and Vicky about what they think happened. Carlos tells her that it was impossible for the horses to be switched, their lip tattoos matched. Mind you, they also think Tracey had something to with it, so obviously they can’t be trusted.

Trying to see for herself, and using a carrot as an investigative tool, JB tries to establish whether the horses could have been switched, but the lip tattoo is a match.

VEGETABLE! FEEL MY WRATH

VEGETABLE! FEEL MY WRATH

After the Great Carrot Failure, Jess tests another theory – that Carlos wasn’t really sick, and that he had time to run across the paddock and kill Bowen before anyone knew he was out of bed. That falls flat when the infirmary nurse informs Our Heroine that Carlos was full of drugs and not able to get out of bed, let alone across the paddoclk. About to give up and go back to the hotel she gets into her taxi, followed by two hired goons who tell her they’re off to an early lunch with Vince Shackman. Shackman is eager to learn how Tracey fixed the race – he has some people in Vegas who are more than a little unhappy about losing so much money on a race that was so obviously fixed. JB tells him that she can’t help him, but then Shackman gets a call – Tracey has been brought in for questioning over the murder of Jack Bowen.

Fed up with Misko’s failure at life (and telling him so to his face), JB goes out to Jack Bowen’s stables to hunt for more clues. She spots Anchor’s Ahoy…the real Anchor’s Ahoy, not the fake one at the track who won the race. Mike Gann turns up with a shotgun and a bad temper – he was in on the racefixing scam along with Jack Bowen and Carlos the jockey, but he didn’t kill Bowen and he’s not going to jail for the scam either. Instead of shooting JB he decides to let loose the psychopath horse to trample her to death (every stable has a horse who hates people, this is scientific fact), but fortunately Misko and his Merry Men arrive in the nick of time.

On the way back to town, JB has a convenient brainwave. She knows who the killer is (which is handy, since there’s only five minutes left).

I first became suspicious of her when she pronounced paddock with the emphasis on DOCK. Mispronouncing words=guilty.

I first became suspicious of her when she pronounced paddock with the emphasis on DOCK. Mispronouncing words=guilty.

 

Vicky killed Jack Bowen because reasons. I’ll be honest, I’ve been sitting here for the last twenty minutes saying “CARROT YOU HAVE DISPLEASED ME” and laughing to myself.

And on that horrifyingly true story:

Later gang!

Later gang!