Tuesday 2 November 2010

A horse is a horse, of course of course

We're a racing family. No, not quite like the Cummings, the Waterhouses, the Inghams or the Freedmans (though I wished we had their bank accounts). We're just a family that loves going to the races or watching the races on the telly. Really, it's Skip who is the passionate horse person, but his adoration of all things racing does rub off on the rest of us. Well, to be honest, we don;t really have a choice!

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?


  1. That's great! Reminds me of my grandfather who LOVED a punt and would religiously read the form guide. How exciting the day you get to go to Flemington for Derby Day...can't wait for THAT post. Not sure where we will be at 3...at home no doubt convincing Daisy it's OK to switch over from Playschool. Certainly no chicken sambos and champagne this year. Have a GREAT day. Oh and....tips?!

  2. Does he read Best Bets. My husband did the Queensland form for many years in this magazine. We have done the form for the Melbourne cup. Whilst my husband is working my son and I will watch the race to see if we win. Charmaine

  3. I remember when i was a kid that the family used to put all the names of the horses in a black hat ,then we would pick 3 each of course i back then picked a winner

    (this was like 20+) yrs ago the horse that won was Mr Magic and i got $2 i was like 7 or something i was so overjoyed my horse won lol....

    We too will be watching the race at 3pm today love Bart Cumming! Who doesnt??

  4. Skip sounds like a real pro!

    My father is the same and owns a few race horses. Their names are ridiculous, as most are. He goes for a bet every Saturday and loves it. It's his special time.

    My parents go to Derby Day every year. They said that Cup Day gets a little trashy every now and then, and they prefer the fashion and crowd at Derby.

    Good luck today, hope you back the winner :)


  5. I am not in Australia, so do not celebrate the Melbourne cup day, but your writing about your husband's obsession reminds me of my husband and hockey. He loves going to our Colorado College hockey so much, and he even goes to their after hours awards shows. He even asks to go to the Coaches meetings just so he can watch and listen!


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