Tuesday, 2 November 2010
A horse is a horse, of course of course
An average Saturday for him starts at 6.30am as he listens to the form on the radio while fetching me a coffee from a local cafe. Then over breakfast he checks the form guide in paper and electronic form. It's round about this time he utters: "There's some really good races on today." Which receives an eye-rolling from me. Mid-morning, text messages start arriving about tips for the day. Around lunchtime is the first race, he's usually watches it at the track, at home on the TV or will check the results. Repeat for the rest of the arvo.
That night he'll go back to the form guide to see what happened, where he went wrong and where he went right. Sunday morning it's Racing Retro, a show on Sky Racing which reviews each race from the day before. Experts give their opinion on what happened. Throughout the week, he reads about horse racing and watches barrier trials and any other coverage about upcoming races. To relax, he'll read a horse racing biography.
The amount of horse racing knowledge in his head is astounding. Simply astounding. More than once, I've overheard him talk to people involved in the industry about great races from the past, they'll excitedly reminisce and then you see a look pass over their face when they realise that Skip wasn't even born when the race they're talking about was run.
I've always thought that it's a crime that Skip doesn't work in something to do with racing. The Australian racing industry is certainly missing out on a great mind.
While there's always something happening in racing the spring carnival is a special time. The Victorian Derby Day (Saturday just passed) is Skip's favourite day of the year – it's like Christmas and his birthday all rolled into one. We've spent Derby Day in some strange places, from a rough old pub in the desert of South Australia to a TAB in Neutral Bay. I would love to take Skip to Flemington for this day one year – and we will do it, I just want to wait until we can do it right.
Then, of course, is Melbourne Cup day. The one day of the year that the rest of the population joins Skip and glues themselves to race. The day where Skip gets so many calls from friends and family looking for tips. The one day of the year where he has to explain over and over how trifectas work and how to fill in the TAB card. The one day of the racing year that I think Skip secretly doesn't enjoy that much, despite being the fact he can legitimately leave his desk to be at the track. It's the one race where I don't think I've ever known him to pick a winner of the Melbourne Cup. There were years when I heard him utter: "There's no way Makybe Diva will win". Bless him.
At 3pm today, I'll be at home with the kids. The girls will pick their horses based on the colour and design of the jockey silks. Hopefully a friend will drop in. The girls will yell 'GO, GO, GO'. Skip will be at Randwick, fielding phone calls. He'll call after the race and an analyse what happened. You know, just like the Waterhouses, the Cummings, the Inghams and the Freedmans do.
Happy Melbourne Cup Day! Where will you be at 3pm today? Who are you backing?