Important advice for anyone buying a horse at Magic Millions tonight.

January 11, 2014

The business of buying a horse is a serious one. It’s not a job for any idiot.

Unless, of course, the said idiot has spent the day having a ball at the Magic Millions. Then, anyone can have a crack.

I have ventured to the sales several times after the big race day. Like everyone else there, things have gone a little shabby. Ties end up a tad crooked. Girls are looking to throw their shoes.

It’s so tempting. All that magnificent horse flesh. Just waiting for a buyer. The one we’re drooling over, could be the million dollar winner next year.

Normally mature folk start talking syndicates. Sums are done, that will make no sense tomorrow. It all seems so easy.

I’ve told the story before of Singo buying one deep into a Saturday night, on the strength of the Queensland brew. Breeding meant nothing. It was just fun. Of course, the damage would be repaired come Sunday morning.

I could very well end up in that field of dreams tonight. Yet again. So here are the rules we will abide by.

First and foremost, don’t listen to any rules. If we went by the book, no-one would have owned Black Caviar or Makybe Diva.

Don’t even think about launching a bid, without a bucket of giggle juice on board. There are international gurus spending zillions while drinking sparkling water. How is that fun?

Pick a horse with a big arse. Nothing else matters. Spend way beyond your budget, if the filly reminds you of Beyonce.

Do nothing unless you’re surrounded by mates. There is every chance you’re about to make a huge mistake. They must be part of it.

At some stage, someone will say you’re all kinds of crazy. You will be told to walk away. Make sure you get them to sign a waiver, as you secretly buy that More Than Ready colt. It could be worth thousands in January next year.

If we’re swaying side by side when the last lot appears, I’ll consider joining forces. As long as you’re on the rum, with your best buds, drooling over a great big booty. And I’d appreciate if you could get the bill. I’m good for it, I promise.

Forget the Horse Whisperer. Meet my mate the Woy Woy Goat Walker.

October 9, 2012

It wasn’t something you see every day. A grown man walking a goat by the side of the road. Complete with collar and leash.

Traffic slowed to a crawl. Drivers strained for a better look. It was difficult to work out who they were more focused on. The high-stepping farm animal, or the giant wearing nothing but his footy shorts and a smile.

My big mate has always done things like that. He’s not embarrassed easily. When you tip the scales at over 120 kilos, you can pretty well do as you please.

Memories of the goat came flooding back on the weekend, as a few of us celebrated his 50th birthday.

In typical style, he’d banned any party. Said he wouldn’t attend. Too much fuss.

Instead, it was decided that we’d surprise him several weekends before the actual date. A shock and awe approach to a birthday bash.

Over a few cool drinks at the club we helped build thirty years ago, stories of tall tales from the early days emerged. The goat received several mentions.

We were minding it for one of the Big Bloke’s friends. I never found out why. I just came home one Friday night, on unsteady pins, to find a new pet chained to the clothesline.

This puzzled me. I was sure there hadn’t been an animal there when I left for work earlier that day. One would remember such a development.

I checked with the housemates, who confirmed that my eyes weren’t playing tricks. So began our time with Spot the Goat.

Visitors loved Spot. They thought he was a quirky addition to our bachelor pad. Like the barber’s chair on the back deck. And the bathroom that had never been cleaned.

I had less affection for Spot. His diet consisted of grass, cardboard (as in beer cartons), and my work shirts. His other great trick was to position himself at my bedroom window, and make the most awful of noises at approximately 4am. Every day.

His time with us was eventful, but brief. Spot went to the farmyard in the sky. The Big Bloke was upset for a week.

My mate’s other great passion, aside from family, Fords and Manly, has always been food. You don’t get to be his size without knowing a little about preparing a meal.

Back then, he took it upon himself to make lunch for all three members of the house. One loaf of bread per day. White, of course.

He bought us lunch boxes, and had them packed, ready to go, early each morning. Sometimes with a treat. This, from a burly front-rower who packed down with the best of the time.

At work, my colleagues chuckled. Don’t let that one go, they’d say. I’d landed myself quite a catch.

It all worked fine, until the day I was invited to a business lunch. I’d forgotten all about it, and duly lined up in the morning to receive my allocation of the loaf.

Those four hefty sandwiches remained in my bag, as I dined out on fancy Chinese. Big mistake.

What I didn’t realise, was that my towering housemate was checking our lunch boxes each night. Just to make sure that his efforts weren’t being wasted.

It was our first and only confrontation. Me full of cheap wine and dim sims, and him waving soggy cheese and beetroot sangers in my face.

From then on, if I had a work lunch, I’d dump his carefully made sandwiches in the bin. Nothing like keeping the peace.

He hasn’t changed. Made me breakfast before I left for my flight home. Three fat sausages, two eggs, two tomatoes, baked beans and toast. And watched as I took every bite.

He loves looking after people. Always has. The Big Bloke doesn’t believe in throwing anything away. A mighty heart in that giant frame. Even the cat is a stray.

I could have asked if he had any goat’s cheese to go with my cup of tea. But I thought better of it.

He doesn’t exercise farm animals any more. That’s a shame. I guess once you’ve walked with goats, there’s not much left to achieve.

I’ve discovered the ideal Christmas party venue. Tinsel at the track. How could you not have fun?

December 10, 2011

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.

Tips on how to survive a day trackside with a bunch of thirsty non-punters.

September 17, 2011

There’s nothing like a day at the track with mates who wouldn’t know a favourite from a frog.

Non-punters. I actually know a few. It’s my life mission to corrupt them.

For starters, they never have their own form guide. Which means they want to borrow mine. And as we all know, that’s awful luck.

They aren’t interested in Perth. They want to get a cab after the last, instead of seeking out the final get-out stakes somewhere in the Southern Hemisphere.

They get bored easily. Unless you find them a winner. So the key is to secure decent tips, and keep their fluids up.

I’ll be doing just that today. With three great old mates. Our annual get together. We’re all very excited.

One is a reformed punter. Much more responsible these days. Or so he tells us.

The other two bet on Melbourne Cup Day, and whenever they get stuck with me.

Where I grew up, we all played footy and punted. And enjoyed cool drinks on hot days.

Sadly, not everyone had such a privileged upbringing.

There are folk out there who haven’t embraced our love of the punt. Such a shame.

The things they must be forced to do instead on a Saturday arvo. Golf. Triathlons. Gardening. Computer games. What a waste.

I first met this lot in Cairns many years ago, on the coaching staff of a footy club.

After fun and successful times, we moved on, and elsewhere.

After a few years apart, a pact was made to get together every year, for a few giggles. And so we have.

Our weekend always includes a trip to the track. That was my idea. They agreed, only because I told them how easy it was to make money while drinking cold beer. Yep, they believed me.

Over the years I’ve dragged them to Randwick, the Gold Coast, the Cairns Cup, and a few places in between.

For some reason, we never win. Ever. I keep them interested with group trifectas, and doubles, and tips from the most reliable of sources. For absolutely no return.

Of course, they blame me. And declare how lucky they are to only go through these torture sessions once a year. Unlike their host.

It takes a steady flow of refreshments to ease the pain. Until the next morning.

This year will be different. Mark us down as good things at Doomben today.

We’ll pool some money, because that’s what happens when blokes with no idea want to back things.

Stewards have been advised of a change of tactics. A monster quaddie is on the cards. And yes, I’ll have to explain what that means.

Keep an eye out for us. Four old blokes looking uncomfortable in ties. One putting the bets on. Three others shaking heads.

Feel free to offer us tips. Just be prepared to spend some time explaining what they have to do if I’m not with them.

Like me, you should be doing your bit to educate a non-punter. Get them out to the track. Text them some tips. Make them think you win plenty of cash every weekend.

Just one rule. Don’t let them touch the form guide. It’s hard enough to find a winner, without that sort of cruel luck.