Racing: As old Jack shows, you still meet some cracking characters in the betting ring

Working at the races does give you access to some unusual characters, and I try to make sure that I don’t get bogged down in the greed of the betting ring and that I enjoy some of the identities.
My Dad, a long-time bookie in Adelaide, always loved the wags and saw them as part of our entertainment.
At Caulfield on Saturday a keen (and successful) punter wandered up, as can be his wont, for a chat. This can bug the boss when the pressure is on, but I am usually happy to have my ear chewed.
“Jack (not his name),” I said, “the good horses are coming back. Do you ever go and look at ’em?”
“Shit no!” he exclaimed. “It’s not a bloody beauty pageant!”
Given it was early in the meeting, I pressed on. Finally he acknowledged that there was an old trainer who could call them by looks.

“Spotted the 100/1 winner of the Ascot Vale one time.”
“My brother rode for him,” he added.
“Was your brother a good rider?” I asked while organising my bag.
“Yeah,” said Jack, “up until he got life for jumping off one one day at Yarra Glen.”
Now, I know it is not protocol to ask for extra information on a racecourse, as blokes will tell you what they want you to know, but I couldn’t resist.
Seems Jack’s brother was five lengths in front, the money was on the second-placed stablemate, and the last furlong was in sight.
“What else could he do?” Jack shrugged.
He ambled off to watch the Sydney race, leaving us with his casual aside from sixty years ago.
I got back to the business of grabbing cash.

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