Almanac Racing: Sure Bet Redemption

I use to play cricket, then sometimes head off to the Moonee Valley trots. Cricket in the afternoon, a few ‘throffies’ at the club then off to the red-hots, the trots. On the way, I’d reach into the glove box, grab the deodorant and give myself a pommy shower.


This particular day I got a bit of movement through the air & off the pitch and ended up with 5/22. I was feeling lucky.


At the time I always bet on the tote. I never bet with the bookies. I just thought you had to bet at least $10 to bet with a bookie. I only bet in single figures so I don’t normally go near the bookies. I’d take about $30 to bet with – I was basically a $2 punter. Two bucks each way was as far as I’d go.


I wasn’t so much Kerry Packer, more Storeman & Packer.


Throughout the first seven races I’d won a few, lost a few and by the last race, the ‘get out stakes’; I’m down to $22. I thought that was a bit of an omen – I’d taken 5/22. I had $22 bucks left and I looked up in the last to see that number 5 was a nag called Say No More.

I’m thinking 5 wickets – number 5. I’ve got $22. The last wicket I got was a bloke called Moore. I’m thinking this is it. I’ve got to back Say No More.

I looked at my $22 and thought bugger it; I’ll have 20 ‘oxfords’ on this thing with a bookmaker.

In the unlikely case of a loss, at least I still had two bucks for a hamburger from the McDonald’s across the road.


It’s 6-1. I walk up to a bookie and ask for $20 on Say No More. The bookie looks at me and says “I like cricket, I’ll give you 7-1”.

“140 to 20 Say No More, ticket number 225.” The bookie hands me the ticket.

I’m looking at the ticket – 225 – I took 5/22. Wow. It’s another omen. I’m getting excited.


I make my way up to the top of the grandstand – four flights of stairs. I walk down to the row of seats & sit down, lovingly looking at this ticket. $140 bucks! Disneyland here I come. I’m 18, don’t have a family yet, I’ll just adopt one & take them to Disneyland. I ponder, why does everyone think of going to Disneyland when they win lots of money?


I’m in the grandstand eagerly awaiting the last race of the night. I’m standing next to an 80yo lady, who’s wearing a tatty old floral dress, a netting hat with flowers, a pale blue cardigan. She looked like Granny from The Beverly Hillbillies.


I look at her; she looks at me standing there in my cricket whites and says “HOWZAT laddie, hehehehe”.

I smiled and said “Who’d you back?”

She scrunches up her wrinkly face and replies “Koala King.” I said, “Say No More.”


So the race starts, they go round a couple of circuits and they’re approaching the final straight.

The race caller takes up the call: “It’s Koala King the inside, Say No More the outside. Koala King leads by half a length, but Say No More is slowly and surely getting to Koala King”.

 “They hit the line – Koala King, a nose to Say No More.”

NOOOOO! I’m gutted; I slump back down in the seat.


The old lady looks at me, her lips quivering while she tries to keep her teeth in and let her excitement out, she sticks her 2 fingers up and exclaims “Suck shit, laddie.”


I chuck my ticket on the floor & slowly trudge down the 4 flights of stairs. I get to the bottom & I hear “WAAAA WAAA” – the protest siren. I ask an old bloke, what that was about.

He said “There’s a protest, 2nd against 1st for interference in the straight. Koala King laid in on Say No More.”

He added “Say No More should get the race.”


I thought – Really! You beauty – (feel for ticket) then “SHIT” shit, shit shiiiitttt! Realise I threw the ticket on the bloody ground, at the top of the grandstand. So I race up the stairs, thinking you idiot, why didn’t you hang on to the ticket.


I get to the top – look down to where I’d been standing and see hundreds of useless tickets. I get on my hands & knees thinking, where the hell did I chuck the ticket? Think you idiot. Where was I sitting? I picked up discarded ticket after discarded ticket but ticket 225 could not be found.


Then I look to the left realising I’d flicked the ticket in that direction. I sift through dozens of more discarded tickets and then see a ticket that looks like mine, number 225 – I’ve got it, I’ve got it! I’m clutching this ‘winning’ ticket; I race down the stairs over to the bookies stand. I get in line looking at the bookies bag, licking my lips, thinking ‘Come to papa, baby, 140 Oxford scholars.’


The siren goes off – “WAAAA WAAA” – “Protest dismissed.”


Lost again!

Granny’s there, collects her money and turns around and sees me.

She smiles and just when I think she’s got a modicum of empathy, she gives it to me.


“Suck shit again, laddie,” she squeezes out of the lips of her stupid wrinkled face.


Granny walks off. I’m standing there about to walk away when the bookie calls me over.

“So how’d you go today, son?”

“I got 5 for 22.”

Bookie replied “Yeah, who do you play for?”

“Footscray Colts.”

He said “Really, I use to play for the Colts. Give me a look at your ticket.”

I handed it to him – he looked at it, placed it in his bag and took out $20.

“This one’s on me, son.” He slips me the 20 bucks. “See you next week”.

I thank him and head towards the exit. I see the old lady. She looks at me smiling, doesn’t see where she’s going and trips over the curb & lands face first on the concrete.

I run over and bend down to see how bad she is.

I said “Are you OK?”

She slowly lifts her head off the ground and it appears to be caked in mud.

As the old lady turns to look at me I realise she’d landed face first in a pile of dark green, fresh, slimy, stinking, horse manure.

It’s all over her face, manure putty filling in the wrinkles, in her eyes, nostrils, around her lips and in the gaps of her teeth, even on her tongue.

I wiped the manure away from her eyes with the corner of her cardigan.

I can’t help but begin to smile, I take the 20 bucks out of my pocket, put it up to her manure-caked face and say –

“Who’s sucking shit now, LADY”.


I then head across the road and get my Big Mac. With the extra $20, I throw in chips, a coke & a hot apple pie!


About Paul Young

As far as I know, I'm the only former VFA player to have won pro-running Gifts on two VFA grounds. But then again I don't know much so I could be wrong. AFL team: North Melbourne but I find they do like to test one’s allegiance by retaining Brad Scott as coach. UPDATE: We could be doing worse. Favourite sport: It depends on the season, the mood and the wife. Education: Went to Uni but discovered if you are street smart you can survive without it. Occupation: Pedestrianism pundit & handicapper ALSO coach of slow moving sprinters. Golf handicap: My temperament and I’ve found not owning any clubs or balls and having no interest in the game has dramatically affected my PGA potential.


  1. nudge, nudge, wink,wink…

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