Cup Day, Americain Style

Last year I was forced, through circumstances memory will not permit me to recall with any great lucidity (a mercy mission, perhaps?), to go back to the TAB in North Sydney at about 2pm on the afternoon of the Melbourne Cup. I’d already done my personal gambling and had the winning – I hoped – ticket nestled in whatever pocket was to be the lucky one for that year – bit particular, and exceptionally superstitious, about where I store my tickets, but the superstition changes according to the rather nebulous condition of what feels right.

What feels right has helped and hindered my progress through life, and I suppose, being a mainly irrational chap, guided by emotional responses to scarcely real stimuli has been a good thing: for a strictly rational, list-making individual might have realised by now that this what feels right thing has already ruined my life (huge exaggeration: I mean such a person would coldly decide that not being on the board at Goldman Sachs was a huge failure). Yes, certain decisions which could easily have been made but weren’t (notice the passive voice?) have been made for the sole reason that it didn’t seem the right thing to do the opposite and take the opportunity, and in the process feel meant not progressing or advancing or extending. Or being richer and more powerful. Not that the idea of either of those seems to feel like me; although to be richer and more powerful than me one only needs to go and take some advice from a street sweeper or rubbish picker uperer on a train, and use them as your role model.

So I’m back at the TAB. It’s hot. It’s November, and November isn’t always hot – it was cold and rainy today in Sydney – but it was hot and punters were getting stroppy. Having learned about the necessity of my second trip to the punting altar I had decided to delay it for as long as possible. Surely most people who work in North Sydney – and North Sydney is a ghost town on weekends, when the people who work there are not present – would have been in front of a TV in their office watching in the build-up to the great race by this point? That was my reasoning. But it was flawed. There was such a long queue that punters were becoming frustrated and one man in front of me seemed to want to start a fight, with someone – anyone seemed good enough. It took time, fifteen minutes or so, to even get in to the place, and then once in it seemed impossible to explain that one really wasn’t pushing in, one had been in the queue already, in fact one had been behind that lady, over there, but it was necessary to fill in a betting slip to take to the window, and would it be OK to resume one’s former position in the line, please? The fighting, angry man could still be around. Safer to queue up, having filled in my selections, and not cause trouble. So another fifteen minutes. Bets were put on, for my mother, I think. From memory she collected something OK. That’s right, she was in hospital: that was my mercy mission: I’m not going mad. I also won a pretty good selection of Australian currency, finishing well in front, and it was, all in all, a pretty good day.

Today, not so good. It felt like So You Think had to win. He’s such a good horse that, observing his recent form carefully, he is only really required to go flat out for a couple of hundred metres, near the end of a race, to win. Today he met resistance from a genuine stayer from France named Americain, who was ridden very well by his French jockey Gérald Mossé and was run down at the finish. I was asked at the TAB at 7:15 if I needed any help. I replied: “Don’t you know who I am? Go away and deal with the peasants!” (In fact it was more like: “No, I’m OK. Thanks”.)

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Published in: on November 2, 2010 at 6:52 pm  Leave a Comment  
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