They shouldn’t let people like me gamble

Deltablues
For most of us, the Melbourne Cup is the one day of the year when we pay any attention whatsoever to horseracing. It’s a public holiday in Victoria, and a virtual public holiday in NSW. But while I’m sure Melbourne Cup lunches are delightful (I’ve never been to one), and womankind seems to universally enjoy donning ridiculous hats for reasons I can’t fathom but dare not speculate over, for me the much-vaunted Race That Stops The Nation means only one thing. Going to the TAB, and losing money.

Sure, office sweeps are fun. But I usually have trouble finding 24 people to make up the rest of my sweep at my workplace. In fact, since I currently work from home, I came a whopping 23 people short of a proper sweep today.

It takes more than that to put me off an Aussie tradition, though, so I held a sweep anyway. And I still had fun drawing them out of the hat. And even better, my horse came in first. And second, and third, and last. Although when I did the maths, I didn’t do any better than breaking even on the $48 I laid out.

Which is a whole lot better than I did at the TAB. What with not having much of a workplace celebration, I usually watch the race down at a pub with a friend or two. And every year I promise myself I’m not going to have a flutter because I invariably lose. And then every year, with about ten minutes to go, I go slightly crazy and start placing bets with about ten minutes to go.

And this is a truly terrible thing to do. Because I generally haven’t read anything about it, what with not being the least bit interested and all, I’m relying entirely on guesswork. So I’ll back the favourite, and then a few other ones for random reasons. I bet on Glen Boss to win four in a row. I bet on Damian Oliver’s horse because, well, I’ve heard of him. But the stupid thing is that I back lots of horses for a small amount, meaning that I usually win something, but so little that I’m inevitably behind.

In fact, I went back and looked at the betting slips I had – a few different horses for $2 each way, and one of those $12 special bets that gives you a trifecta and then a bet each way. I realised, to my great dismay, that I’d chosen my horses so ridiculously badly that the only mathematical way I could come out ahead, given the horses I’d chosen, was if I’d fluked the trifecta.

For example, I actually had money for a place on both Pop Rock and Maybe Better, but won only $9 because they were too short-priced.

And who to tip? Well, Bono said Yeats would “bite the arse of any of the Australian horses that dare to run against it”. The mega-wealthy are always good at making money, and he’s into alleviating poverty, so I had a flutter on Yeats as well.

The annoying thing was that Bono was right, in a way. Yeats was ultimately in a position to bite several Australian horse’s arses – because he was behind them. (What a self-contradictory metaphor.) Secondly, Yeats did beat most of the Australian horses – but not the Japanese horses. Well, serves me right for listening to Bono – I won’t make that mistake again. World leaders politely ignore him when he comes to lecture them about his various causes, and now I know why.

Really, this whole day is peer pressure at its worst. I’m just trying to get on the winning bandwagon, like I did with Makybe Diva. Next year, I’m going to put some thought into my betting, so at least there’s a small chance of my winning something. But with such a long race, and so many horses, it’s pretty fair to conclude that no-one really knows anything.

Least of all me.



Dominic Knight

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