I had never been to a horse race before this year. To me, they are imbued with the same glamour and seediness as a casino, but they seem more genteel, a la My Fair Lady.
There`s a tradition in Australia of going to the races on Boxing Day (St Stephens Day), and it`s very popular with the ex patriot community as it used to be free to enter with a foreign passport. My cousin has been going every year, sometimes more often than once, as they`re on around Easter as well. It`s a nice reason to dress up to the nines during the day, meet people during the holidays, lounge in the sun and of course, fritter away money.
The races are normally on in Ranwick, but this year because of some work being done to the grounds, they were moved to Rose Hill. I couldn`t get over the amount of Irish people at the races, not to mention in Sydney in general. Half of the west of Ireland must have gone on an extended working holiday to tide over the economic crisis.
I was looking forward to losing my money and getting an authentic gambling experience. I joined in on a trifecta where we tried to predict the first three horses to place in a race, I picked horses whose names I liked, and for my final one, I picked the horses with the highest returns. I lost of course, but I didn`t lose more money than I minded. I wouldn`t bother gambling again, but I didn`t mind paying for the experience of placing a bet and getting a thrill from watching them race.
It was interesting to see the horses up close, with their jockeys and attendants. It`s crazy to think that this is a business worth huge amounts of money, from the other side of the fence you can sense the seriousness of the weight of money the horses are carrying.