When Sandown was opened in 1965, even those of us who were not Victorians were fascinated and thrilled by the new track.

The baby in racing soon established a niche for itself, racking up Australasian records for the very short distances, and also acquiring a reputation as a "horses for courses" track.

Some could not handle the downhill run, some relished it. Some floundered in the straight, others swept home.

Leaders rarely won. They rarely win now. I just about throw away my ticket if my horse leads into the straight at Sandown.

The best money-spinning Sandown horse I recall was the ill-fated Stainvita, who won, from memory, nine races there before putting his foot in a non-existent hole and snapping it, a hundred metres from the post, after being in a winning position at the time. A sad story for such a horse.

"Non-existent hole"? Well. that's what they said, but who will ever know?

Before the drainage was attended to I used to make a lot of money backing horses drawn wide at the 1600 on this track. I had a theory that the water didn't get through the ground out wide and that the camber pushed all rainwater to the

inside, meaning that the going for some 600 metres was way better out wide. Less slippery, in fact. I proved it with lots of winners. The 1400 seemed to also be able to throw up wide barrier winners on occasions, and when a good horse was at extended odds out wide, I moved in. What are the prospects of doing this today?

The 1000 metre start is at the end of a chute, about 120 degrees off the straight. So you run about 600 metres down the chute then swing into the 407 metre straight.

The 1200 start is awkward. It flies into the 180 degree turn after travelling only about 350 metres, and that's why, regardless of my earlier theory, outside barriers aren't my favourite at this start. The official quote is that "barriers are of little importance". We shall see.

At 1400, we have more room, and at 1600 it's marvellous for all starters. The 2100 starts about 200m from the winning post, and although horses have to negotiate two 180 degree turns, the track is big enough to accommodate them. The 2400 is a superb start, placed slightly off the top of the straight, so they effectively run more than 400 metres before they turn. The steeple track takes off on its own merry way out the back for several hundred metres.

By the way, horses can carry big weights at Sandown and win. This has been a factor I have noted all the time the track's been in existence.

At the 1000, allowing for the greater number of runners in the inside barriers, the only interesting factor is the anomaly in barrier 16. But it's from only 34 runners, whereas, say, barrier one had 182.

At the 1200, the strength of the middle barriers seems evident, and the number of runners doesn't taper off until barriers ten and eleven. The percentages are somewhat lower outside those barriers, as expected.

At the 1400, there were 183 runners in barrier 14 or wider, and while only sixteen won, that's 8.8 per cent and favourably comparable to several "better" draws.

At the 1600, what is most evident is that all barriers are fairly treated. I'd like to know how well the wide ones do when it's wet, but I don't have those figures. Perhaps a reader does?

At the 2100 and the 2400, we have again a nice even spread.

So, when you hear that every horse gets its chance at Sandown, you can believe it, except maybe at the 1200 if it's drawn wide on a firm track.

A horse in our ratings, Grand Baie, owns the track sprint record at the moment (54.80, very slick). Jeune holds the 1400 re