The trifecta that changed lives. How a lucky mum did a dance and won a fortune.

November 10, 2012

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.


The rules for having a punt on your birthday. Champagne, laughter and ignore the tipster.

July 14, 2012

We’re off to a birthday party today.

Not just any gathering. A much-loved friend is celebrating one of the Biggies.

I’m too much of a gentleman to give her age away. Let’s just say her 40th was a LONG time ago.

I’m not on the organising committee, but I’m guessing she’ll have a few champagnes as we gather to mark the day. And a wine. Or two.

The other birthday activity I’m confident she’ll be involved in is a bet. Because that’s what we do.

I have lots of friends who don’t need a special occasion to join in the punt. Many will do so on any day that ends in Y. Let me point out that the Birthday Girl isn’t one of them.

She saves her punting for special days. And she has certain betting characteristics that will set her out from the crowd.

There’s every chance that she’ll have all her bets in the one go, at the start of the day. There will be a pile of tickets filled out early, ready to feed through the machine.

They won’t be big plonks. Just a few dollars each. A trifecta or two. A jockey she likes. There could even be some names that tickle her fancy. And definitely nothing that I tip her.

More often than not, she’ll get hubby to put the bets on for her. Allows her to keep chatting. Today will be one of those days. He’ll walk off with a large bunch of betting slips, and a handful of notes and coins.

This is always amusing, because it takes some time to get the tickets done and dusted. He’ll be standing there for an age, with a line forming behind him. There may even be a scratching somewhere in the mix, that will delay him some more.

He is one of those special blokes who’s spent his life keeping the rest of us safe. Decades in the force, taking great joy in locking up grubs. And dealing with pressure to solve horrendous crimes, that few others have to experience.

For him, holding up a line of anxious punters is a walk in the park. All those times he’s stood in that queue, I’ve never heard him complain. Not once. He’ll return to the table, with the processed tickets, and a smile. Although he may have kept the change once or twice.

The Birthday Girl will win this afternoon. You can bet on that. It will be a nag that the rest of us have dismissed out of hand. No chance. She will spot something that we missed.

It will pay a heap. Which will add to our pain. She’ll let us know, with a laugh that rattles windows, and is music to the soul.

Hubby will be proud as punch of her. And not just because he might get a sling from the winning kitty. It’s just how they are.

She deserves the very best of days today, and that’s what we’ll give her. There was a savage battle not that long ago, that she faced head-on, with incredible courage and class. A foe that doctors had to tackle, not coppers. She’s winning that too.

And so we’ll celebrate, and be thankful that we have such a wonderful friend. Sometimes you don’t need much more than mates, laughter, and a few bets. Happy birthday Jacinta.