Its Wellington Cup day today. A chance for Wellingtonians to dress up in their finery, get on the train to Hipkins country, hide from the sun (its already pushing 20 degrees) and drink beer and wine from plastic cups. I will be there. I blame geography for my interest in the horses. I grew up a stones throw from Forbury Park in Dunedin. My father and I would sometimes go down in the evening, filled with Presbyterian caution and put $1 each way on number 7 or number 9, his lucky numbers. Just after he passed away last year, I took my brother back there, and an evening of betting on 7 and 9 netted us a healthy return.
Later on I flatted with Terence who thought he had invented the perfect betting system. This was before the days of home computers. The whole thing was on index cards, and took paintstaking effort to keep up. The system eventually fell away, but my interest stuck. I dont get to more than three or four meetings a year nowadays but I still love it. For me it is the only form of gambling that I have any time for. There is some considerable skill and knowledge that you can apply, and there is the thrill of the race itself. Interestingly problem gambling is less associated with racing than other forms of gambling. Though that is not to under-estimate the dangers. I have not shaken the Presbyterian caution, but inflation has caught up!
Cup Day is a great day, one of a number of well attending race meetings in the summer period. But I know the Wellington Racing Club and other clubs would love to see bigger crowds throughout the year. I share my colleagues concerns about the some time unhealthy relationship between the gaming trusts and racing clubs, but I also want to see the clubs survive. Any trip to a summer race meeting this year will have made clear to people that these are great events for bringing communities together. Clubs have gone to great effort to make days family friendly as well.
Anyway time to get ready. If you are looking for a tip for the Wellington Cup (timed to go at 4.42) you can’t go past Red Ruler. With a name like that I have to support it really, but it is also the favourite. And as a bit of an outsider, take a look at Manonamission. But keep that one to yourself