Raiders of the Lost Costume Closet

Hobart Cup day arrived last weekend.


It was a long weekend in Hobart but not for the Cup. Hobartians no longer enjoy a public holiday for their major race day. That was confiscated a while back when the government of the day announced: that things were tough. Since then the Cup has meandered about the calendar from Australia Day to the local Hobart Regatta Day until finally this year springing up last Sunday. Little wonder it has lost its identity. A big slash in prize money probably hasn’t helped either.


Anyway my mate Les and I arrive at big Elwick about an hour before the first. Like all good punters we need to get around the traps and make sure everything is ‘in order’. I’d done all my homework and was very comfortable with the fact that I thought the favourite (and local) Gee Gees Blackflash was nigh on a good thing. Les is a form student, has had no visible means of support for 20 years and just sits at home behind the screens and punts his head off. We agreed on one thing. I was very comfortable with that but wanted to be fancy. I wanted to take a few exotics. So before we left the confines of car park we put our heads together and narrowed it to three; Ollie’s (Damian Oliver) mount, Viking Hero; he doesn’t come down here for nothing. And another local, Dream Flyer which dropped 5 kilos on its last run in a local lead up Cup race.


As we arrive we were met with a steady stream of the hardened, the fool hardy, the needy, the greedy and of course the overwhelming modern day phenomena, the partygoer. How high are high heels these days? They put the old platforms to shame. Methinks those girls wouldn’t be able to walk in the morning.


Inside the gate we encountered barrage of mates, fools, incorrigibles, criminals and politicians, not in any particular order. All once a year punters with one thing in common: they want a winner. We are greeted with, “What’ll win one Daryl, what’ll win the Gup.” The Gup? Why do usually sane people speak a different language on racetracks? My Uncle Dick suggested judges, doctors, politicians and captains of industry simply hang their brains on the fence before entering racetracks. Then spend much of the day listening intently to men in size 3 shoes with IQ’s lower than their shirt size. Dick also reckoned there was only one panacea to life’s ills: golden ointment (a winner). No matter how crook you felt a dose of golden ointment would remedy you in no time. I think there is something to that. It’s a great leveler, racing.


We make a beeline for the members relaying our thoughts on Gee Gees Blackflash in the big one. “Do you reckon?” comes the reply, then we were met with the inevitable, “But he’s the favourite.” Now they want long-priced winners. “You won’t go broke backing winners,” I retort as we scurried to the sanctuary. These blokes shit me. I come week in week out, rain hail or shine and there are times when I do ‘me arse.’ But, it sets me in good stead for days like Cup day. All my toil gives me some idea of the form.


Sanctuary of the members? You’ve got to be kidding. It’s overwhelming. Every single ‘would be if they could be’ were in there dressed up in rented suits, panama hats, fascinators and dresses on appro. They are the same ones you see on the wharf after the Sydney-Hobart yacht race adorned in white and navy-blue nautical gear and white flat-soled plimsolls. Or at the Royal Show in moleskins, tweed jackets, R M Williams gear and hunting hats. Have these people got costume closets at home? I reckon if you tipped them upside down they wouldn’t have had the cab fare home. But here they were; sporting member’s badges (guest only), owners’ tickets (don’t you love a syndicate), honorary passes, anything with string and they were in. The cheap binoculars and bad shoes are the give away though. Interspersed with the pretenders were ever-present flocks of mutton; unsuitably attired. The sooner dress length goes back down the better. The Premier and the Racing Director attempted to mingle with and hand rush patrons in the member’s area. One suspects had they been in a race they’d be out to 33’s in the twinkling of an eye. One could safely say they were friendless. Mind you they had just sold the farm (read) local tote.


By race three Juddy’s missus had the fashions on the field in full swing but a bloke in a green flouro mankini stole the show. This form of apparel had never previously been seen in these parts. The women flocked for photo opportunities in the hope it was some ‘mainland’ celebrity or new age hunk. Closer examination revealed a striking resemblance to a miniature Borat who had just changed the gearbox in a zephyr. One girl remarked, “A good wax wouldn’t go astray.


Meanwhile trackside, punters tried to sort the wheat from the chaff. Most were confused, as it seemed every race had a horse with the words Gee Gee in its name. Local owner Paul Geard and his wife have astutely named all their horses with the Gee Gee suffix/prefix. He is Tassy’s answer to Sheik Bin Rasheed Al Maktoum – I’ve often wondered if that is just one bloke. But back to Geardy. He’s bought, bred, and gathered hundreds of thoroughbreds on the island since the racing bug got a hold of him just a few years back. They say when racing bites it bites hard and long. One mainland scribe suggested we had run out of names for horses in Tassy and they were all called Gee Gees. We’ve run out of a lot of things on the island, but horse names isn’t even on a list headed by woodchips.


Come cup time and Les and I don’t waver. Geardy’s Gee Gees Blackflash rewards our homework. A few anxious moments and a close photo for second and third and we were repaid. Repaid for withstanding cold winters days standing about the betting ring eating worthless tote tickets. One out (no boxing) we snared the trifecta multiple times.


One cleansing ale after the last and we make a dash for the car as the party hits top gear. Running a gauntlet of the down, the disheveled, the broke and the uninhibited we head to the member’s car park and there is Geardy struggling to open the doors on his GG plated range rover. With arms full and the Gup proudly jammed under his right arm I enquired, “What sort of day have you had?”




Daryl Sharpen

14 Feb 2012


  1. Dazza, nice snag in the Gup. What did the tri pay?

  2. Daryl Sharpen says

    Piad $106.10 which was a very very pleasant surprise. Favourite (local hero) winning with a 5-1 and 6-1 shot into the minors I suspected about $40-$50 max. So all’s well on the island for this week at least. God bless you all!

  3. Skip of Skipton says

    Just reward for doing the hard yards on the Tassie punt. Good on you.

    I remember winning a few bob on the Hobart Cup when Frontier Boy, a good second-stringer of Bart’s won.
    I think it paid 9 or 10 dollars on the tote, which was extreme overs. Cheers.

  4. And I should have mentioned that I like the observation re those who put on the appropriate uniform for the day.

  5. Did day fix dem pesky wabbit holes Daryl.

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