Commonly confused words: champing at the bit or chomping at the bit?

Two riders on horses, one horse has a mouthful of grass

The horse on the right is chomping on some grass

I know – it’s not really the first Monday of the month, but it is Cup Eve, so my annual horse-themed commonly confused words, and my Cup tips, come to you today.

These commonly confused words are actually quite straightforward to remember: chomping means to eat (as it does for humans). Champing at the bit is to be impatient (and champing is not used in any other way).

Simple, really! I think the confusion comes, as usual, because so many people never have anything to do with horses. When a bridled horse is impatient and eager to be off, it often ‘plays’ with the bit in its mouth (the bit is the metal bar that goes in the horse’s mouth, and sits on their gums, in the convenient gap between their teeth). If a horse is tossing its head around, jerking the reins in the rider’s hands, pawing the ground, then that horse is likely to be champing at the bit, impatient to be off. Since the bit sits between a horse’s teeth, a horse can’t actually chomp down on its bit. It may look like the horse is biting at the bit – it may even be opening and closing its mouth – but it is not actually chewing anything.

Dictionaries will tell you tell you that the two words mean the same thing these days, but I think the difference between impatience and eating is worth keeping. So, sorry New Daily, but you got it wrong!

Headline from New Daily news, 'Chomping at the bit'

Cup tips

The usual warning: as I have now tipped the trifecta three years in a row, the likelihood of my missing it grows ever greater! This year is particularly difficult, given the weather forecast, and what I have to say is a fairly lacklustre field – but maybe we’ll still see something special. Because of the possibility of heavy rain tomorrow, I’ve actually done two trifectas: the first one if conditions are roughly the same as Saturday, and the second one for if the heavens open. I think, as on Saturday, it will be a day for horses with light weights.

If you box these 7 horses for a trifecta, $21 will get you 10% of the payout – if three of them manage to fill the first three placings.

Trifecta 1: for a track rating of soft

8 Deauville Legend – has never run the distance and never run on a soft track but is still favourite. This English horse could do anything – or nothing.

14 Daqiansweet Junior – won the Adelaide Cup and placed in the Sydney Cup so can actually handle the trip.

17 Emissary – won the Geelong Cup, which is a good indicator. Nothing really against him; on the other hand, not a huge amount in favour. (But horses with no. 17 did have a good day on Saturday!)

18 Lunar Flare –  in form, lightly weighted mare, although she does have a hoodoo barrier.

20 Tralee Rose – she’s 100/1, her form this year has been awful but goodness me, I loved this mare last year and I would love to see her win.  She runs well at Flemington (or she did, placing every time until last year’s Cup when she was ninth).

23 Interpretation – gotta have respect for Lloyd Williams’s team.

24 Realm of Flowers – I am very, very keen on this mare too.

In late breaking news: both Lunar Flare and Interpretation have to have vet checks tomorrow morning. If they are scratched, substitute Camorra and Smokin’ Romans.

Trifecta 2: if the rain pours down all day, these horses can swim. But they will need a swimming pool in order to be effective (a track rating of heavy).

3 Knight’s Order (I think he’s too old otherwise)

9 Stockman

16 Arapaho

18 Lunar Flare

19 Smokin’ Romans

22 High Emocean

24 Realm of Flowers

Good luck!

Post script

How did I do? 2nd, 4th, 5th and 6th (and a long, long last) – close but not close enough. Ah well, there’s always next year!

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