We groaned as they crossed the line.
Despised outsiders, all three of them. An impossible result. No-one could have gone close to selecting the placegetters in the nation’s greatest race.
So why was the lady in black jumping up and down?
At first I thought I’d mis-heard her. Then she said it again. In a voice that was trembling. ‘They’re my numbers.’
Hubby was next to her, with a look of disbelief. Their friends were stunned. They wanted more information, but she couldn’t speak. The jumping was taking it out of her.
We’d become friends for the day a little earlier, as we shared the only available space left. The end of the bar. Just enough room to spread the form guides. And Melbourne Cup cheer.
A normal couple. Dressed up for a day out, like millions of others. Enjoying the fun.
She checked again. Then, confirmation. Words we all dream of uttering. ‘I’ve won the trifecta!’
And not any trifecta. The biggest betting race in the land, where the first three in order were nag, donkey and camel.
The group began guessing how much it had paid. Wild estimates, covering all ends of the scale. The lucky winner had no idea. She looked from one to the other, waiting for word.
I was watching the screen as they debated. The magic figure came up. There almost wasn’t room on the monitor.
I told them what I’d seen. Forty-Eight Thousand Dollars. Give or take a few fancy shouts.
They didn’t believe me. It couldn’t be. I looked again. Nothing had changed.
My mate chipped in. We had seen enough TAB screens over the decades to get it right. 48 grand. 48 large. 48 big ones. A win for the ages.
She gasped. Hubby went weak at the knees. They hugged. They twirled. They danced the jig of big winners. Really big winners. Yep, they had 100% of it.
She explained to us how she did it. Four horses. They jumped out at her, off the form guide that morning. She marked all four. Showed us the crumpled up guide in her bag. Just amazing.
We told her we didn’t want a drink, but she bought us one anyway. She wanted to celebrate with anyone who was close by. It could only happen on Cup day.
Hubby told us what a huge help the cash would be. They had kids, and the usual financial dramas families face. Now, relief, thanks to three horses that no-one else wanted.
They stayed for the rest of the afternoon, soaking up the magic. When they left, they gave hugs, and shook hands. Instead of a cab, they’d be going home in a limousine.
There was something special about sharing in their success, even from afar. We’re used to seeing the rich get richer on racetracks. It was so much sweeter, watching ordinary folk fill their bank account.
Here’s to Charlotte. The Cup’s most deserving winner. We’ll see you next year. And maybe get your tips BEFORE the race.