I’m a big fan of having Christmas parties at the races. Unless you happen to be in prep school. Then the classroom is possibly still the pick.
For the rest of us, the track is the perfect venue. You can dress up, or down. Enjoy cool drinks in abundance, and with an ounce of luck, back a winner or three.
There’s always plenty of room. No noisy crowded corner of a city pub. And because it’s a midday start, you should be tucked in bed well before midnight. Unless you backed those three winners.
There have been some memorable stints in years gone by trackside over the holiday period. And a few that I have trouble remembering. I’m pretty sure all were great fun.
Going back a bit, we got our hands on a function room at the Gold Coast Turf club, for an end-of-year newsroom shindig. What a day it was.
We’d had a Punters’ Club running throughout the year, and incredibly, found ourselves with wads of cash. Those who are suggesting I had little to do with bet selections can leave the room.
Some of those present had only seen horses in movies. A few weren’t aware that the bit in the middle of the Friday newspaper is called a form guide. Still, they lined up, and bless them, bet on anything that moved.
My memory is a little hazy, but I seem to recall it was a warm, humid day. That would account for the amount of cool drinks that were directed our way. The waiter is apparently still claiming damages from the damage to his tray arm.
For all that, we still had money left come closing time. For the life of me, I can’t remember what we did with it. Possibly dinner and karaoke. The way any good Christmas party should end.
Come to think of it, isn’t it funny how racing constantly leads us to those wonderful singing machines? Or is that just me?
One of my great post-race day memories involves the Cup, a Melbourne restaurant, karaoke and a secret fridge full of cool drinks. I’ll tell you about it another day.
So, back to Christmas and the races. To show I’m not all talk, we’ve organised a festive get-together for next weekend. ‘Tis the season after all.
Seven old farts in ties. Long time mates from all over, who don’t get to see enough of each other. We’ll be gathering at Eagle Farm to share a Christmas tipple, and a few chuckles.
The plan is a simple one. We’ll gather around a large table, and after a healthy debate about who will shout first, begin bagging each other.
There will be embarrassing stories about one and all. Of course, most of the tales will be embellished. By them, not me.
We’ll share our tips, carefully scribbling in separate sections of our form guides. It goes without saying that no-one writes on another man’s page. Horrible luck. Everyone knows that.
We will spend some time arguing about what sort of joint betting we should do. We’ll pool some money. And later in the day, we’ll forget how much went in.
It’s exciting, and one day, we might actually win. Boy, won’t that be something.
We’ll forget to eat anything. Because we’ll be having too much fun. Too many stories to re-tell. Too many winners to be had. We’ll pay for that the following day.
After the tote windows close, and the barmen decide they’ve taken enough of our cash, we’ll think about our next destination.
This will prompt another heated discussion. No-one will be able to agree. It’s what we do.
Admit it, you’re jealous. You want to come with us, I know.
Sadly, you’re not allowed. No-one smarter, richer, funnier or better looking is permitted at our table.
But there’s a solution at hand. Organise your own group. Get the band back together, and head to the track.
Come and say hello if you make it. We’ll be easy to find. The old blokes bickering over a table of empties and losing tickets. And if you do, bring a bowl of hot chips. You can bet we’ll be starving.