Words of wisdom from a 10 year old girl .. (and what the critics think..)

March 29, 2011

“Daddy, what happens if people think your blog is stupid?”

Once again, my daughter had raised a valid question.

I attempted to come up with a reasoned and mature response. One that a proper author would use.

“Well darling, it’s important to remember that opinions are like bums. Everyone has one.”

Wrong answer. Ten year old girls don’t like hearing fathers talking about bums. Especially in vast numbers. She departed for i-pod therapy, leaving me pondering.

How would I react to negative comments? To those in cyberspace laughing at me, not with me?

The masters of my blog universe have been quick to point out that there was a high chance no-one would give my scribblings a sideways glance, especially in the first few months. Or years. But that didn’t matter, because I was having FUN. As long as I was enjoying the experience, numbers didn’t matter.

Well, nuts to that. If I want to be laughed at I’ll take my shirt off at the beach. Or start salsa dancing. In this blog caper one needs to be loved. And the best way to monitor such affection is through the blog comments section, that you’ve all so heartily embraced.

I thought it might be helpful if I highlighted a few of the more interesting remarks sent my way these past few weeks. And I’m not making any of this up in a cheap stunt to make the piece run longer.

A bloke named Bart from Flemington sent the following. “This is the best bit of racing writing since Banjo Paterson knocked up yarns on beer coasters when I was a lad. Keep up the good work. P.S .. I have something for the Cup this year. Will drop you a note in private.”

And this, from Gai in Sydney. “When it comes to race writing, style is everything. You have none, but I feel very sorry for your wife and daughters, so I will continue to read whatever it is you’re trying to do.”

Good positive feedback. However not everyone has been so kind.

Mr Murdoch from the USA sent the following. “This pile of crap you call writing makes my journalists all over the world look like modern day Shakespeares. You could be the sole reason newspapers survive another decade.”

Pat W, from a TAB somewhere near Mount Coot-tha in Brisbane, says, “You are giving racing journalists, commentators and presenters an ever worse name than they have now. Get back to your real job, if you actually have one.”

A woman who only identifies herself as JK, from a castle in England, says, “I’ve been searching for some far fetched make believe to help with a series of books I’m writing. Sadly, what you’re serving up here is beyond even the wildest of imaginations for teenagers who think flying wizards are normal.”

And finally, this, from blogging giants WordPress.Com. “This stuff stinks. Who let this bloke join our team?”

Actually I made that last one up. They would never say “stinks” on a family blog.

So there we have it. Nothing to worry about. Lots of love out there. Keep those comments coming. Positive, negative and indifferent. Except if you think I’m REALLY stupid. Just because your bum is THAT different, doesn’t mean I have to see it.

Black Caviar: can the world’s worst punter jinx the world’s best sprinter?

March 25, 2011

What’s tonight’s must-see sporting event?

The battle of the south-east between the Broncs and the Titans? Nope.

The AFL’s bumper clash between the Cats and St Kilda? Close, but no cigar.

It’s not a football match. Nothing to do with the World Cup.

Think racing. The half million dollar William Reid Stakes, under lights at Mooney Valley. It will be done and dusted in just over a minute.

Not so much the race. More the horse that will win it. The world’s best sprinter. A mare with a behind that makes Beyonce look like a stick figure.

Black Caviar.

She’s the unbeaten superstar. Ten starts, ten wins. All on city tracks.

Last time out, she won the time honoured Group One Newmarket Handicap at Flemington in a jog trot, while jockey Luke Nolen sat quietly up top, dunking a Tim Tam in his cup of tea.

Lets put all of this in some sort of context.

Imagine Johnathon Thurston kicking fifty consecutive goals. Blindfolded. Brett Lee taking ten wickets in an innings. Twice. Craig Lowndes lapping the field at Bathurst. On a scooter.

You get the picture. She’s a flying freak. And tonight, hundreds of normally sane people will hop on buses all over Victoria, and head to the Valley. They’ll join thousands of others, to experience a little piece of sporting history.

We love a true champion in the racing game. Think back to Phar Lap. Blokes tossing dodgy hats skywards, as Big Red won again. Hope, somehow, during the darkness of the Depression.

When Makybe Diva started winning Melbourne Cups like they were lucky dips, it seemed everyone was on. Friends who didn’t know form guides from fetlocks started quoting winning margins. My missus even knew those famous Santic colours.

But this is different again. To not taste defeat just doesn’t happen at the top end of the racing game. Wise old heads tell you every win gets you closer to a hard luck story. So can she be beaten?

There are two question marks tonight. There’s been rain this week. Will she handle an affected track? More importantly – can she carry the burden of me jumping on the bandwagon?

Her trainer Peter Moody is a Queenslander. Of course. He says’s she’ll be winning again. He’s a bushie at heart. But no mug. The boy from Charleville knows how important it is for racing to have a genuine superstar. And he wants to give everyone the chance to see her in action.

She’ll race in Sydney next month. Then in Brisbane during the winter carnival. Can you imagine the scenes if she’s still unbeaten in May?

So, for the next chapter in this amazing tale. 8.45pm Queensland time. Leave the footy for a bit, gather the kids and neighbours around Sky Channel, and watch the champ in action. It won’t take long. Then book your seat on one of the Brisbane buses. And start practicing how to throw your hat in the air. You might never get the chance again.


Welcome to the ramblings of the world’s worst punter…

March 23, 2011

 They reckon you should write about what you know.

Sound advice. But limiting.

I mean, what do I know? In 47 years and a few weeks I haven’t managed to discover a continent or a solar system. No medical breakthroughs, or near-death experiences. I can’t spill the beans on Hollywood. I don’t even know how to grow beans.

Can I help you around the house? There’s a laugh. Zero ability with hammer, hardwood or heating. Cooking? Enough to get by. But hardly brimming with signature dishes.

So what have I been doing all this time? I’ve been a journo since they used Remington typewriters. No mobile phones. Bosses could only find you if they knew the number of the pub. Yes, I know stuff about the bizarre workings of news gatherers. But do I want to bring my work home even more than I do now? No. And do you care? I think not.

Everyone, it seems, writes about family. That’s nice. I love my family. But we’re not always that exciting. No offence girls. And I see the potential to spend even more time in the doghouse if I start revealing tales about introductory fitness sessions for 40 year old mothers and selecting bras for teenagers, in the hope of a few cheap laughs. So that’s out too.

It comes down to this. There’s only one thing that I’ve done without fail for more than thirty years. On weekends and weekdays. At weddings and funerals. At school, at the local, on the bus, at the beach, on holidays and at home. Sometimes alone. Or with 100,000 like-minded people.

A pursuit that’s given me huge highs and crushing lows. Introduced me to life-long friends, and grubs. To superstars. And athletes and animals able to perform miracles. A habit that continues to excite, shock and amaze.

This subject, my friends, is racing.

The world of horses, jockeys, trainers, racetracks, punters, bookies, odds, strappers, conmen, spivs, glamours, tragics, success, misery and luck. Most of it bad.

For some of you, this will come as no great surprise. I dare say the great majority at this stage will be looking for the Block mechanism on your computers, so that you’re not exposed to such dribble. That’s ok. The beauty of this Blog business is that it doesn’t matter. It might be just me and a mate, giggling about a memory from our first visit to Eagle Farm. Or a tale of woe about my absolute inability to find a winner. Over three decades. You might find a laugh, and I’ll feel better for venting.

There’ll be a bit of footy too. Maybe some other sports. But by and large, it will be happenings of the turf.

Welcome to Hold All Tickets. For non-punters, that’s what the course announcer says ahead of a protest. See, you’re learning already. Have I told you about how unlucky I am in protests? That’s a story for down the track. Or to totally ignore. The choice is yours.

You’ll see it every Friday. Just in time to ignore anything I might tip. And on other days if there’s something worth grumbling about.

If you have racing friends, let them know. They might enjoy it. They might also throw rocks at the screen. That’s fine too. One thing I have found after all this time is that the racing community the world over shares so many traits. Like a giant family. Perhaps with taller stories and shorter cousins.

So no home renovation advice, or relationship guidance, or pasta recipes. Just the ramblings of a bloke who likes a punt, and loves sport and the racing game. It’s sounding better all the time.