Tuesday, November 01, 2005


I felt my father at my shoulder today.

He was involved in racing for most of his life and worked for several prominent bookmakers. His stories about Cup Day were hilarious especially if they involved the so-called social elite.
I remember one of his friends, a first-timer at the Cup, walking through the Members car park to get to his own car. He was stone cold sober at the first open car boot and paralytic by the time he reached the exit gate.

Back in the 80s, Rennie Ellis was brilliant at capturing the essence of the day. His photographs started with the beautifully turned out ladies in the morning and ended with the shagged out wrecks floating on champagne at day's end.

The old man would have loved this horse but knowing his luck he would have backed some other nag. He would have played and re-played the race until he knew it backwards and filed every horse for future reference.

He was in intensive care for some time and we would leave a radio on turned to the racing station. One afternoon, half conscious, he reached out and grabbed my arm. I had committed the ultimate sin, I was talking during the scratchings. We knew he was back with us then.

In the last week of his life, my sister would read out the form guide for him and he would point to his fancy. Weak from the cancer and on morphine, he still managed to pick the winner of the Japan Cup.

Yep, he was sitting with me today.

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