Monday, November 2, 2009

Picking A Winner For The Melbourne Cup

Let me say two things about horse racing. First, I know nothing about the horses, except that they look nice and a day at the track can be a fun day out. Second, when it comes to tipping winners I have been described as the kiss of death. If I pick a favourite then chances are it will not only run last, but it may never race again. The moment word gets out as to what I fancy the odds instantly grow longer. Even if there was only one horse in the race, and I tipped it to win, it would get scratched or disqualified or suffer from some other disaster. So naturally, every Melbourne Cup, I ignore the facts and have a go anyway.

Sometimes I make the pilgrimage to the TAB. Well, it seems to be the Australian thing to do, but sadly I have never had a winning bet at the TAB on the Cup or any other race. My luck at the TAB is so bad that on one occasion, having gone to the inconvenience of braving horrendous traffic, standing in a monstrous queue, and placing my ten bucks each way on a horse I liked, I ended up with a motorcyclist driving into the side of my car. All in all, a very expensive day. Sometimes I attend a day at a racetrack somewhere, which is, as I said before, a fun day out. I have even accidentally backed a winner at the track when my wife picked the horse, but that was only a local race, not the Melbourne Cup. I have had better luck with the occasional win in the office sweep, which is nice, but you have to remember that in the sweep I played no part in picking the horse.

On balance, the evidence would seem to suggest that I only do well when somebody else picks the horse for me. But that doesn’t stop me from trying. Oh no. I am still reading through the list of Cup entrants, looking at the form guides, reading the expert opinions, and will still have a go. I will take note that Bart Cummings is the next best thing to God, and that the horses which do well in the Caulfield Cup are generally a better bet than most. I will consider the experience and the reputation of the jockeys. Then after all of the careful research I will probably pick a horse with a name I like, nice colours, or maybe with a number that feels lucky.

Time is running out and I have to make a choice, and I know that despite all my warnings, you are just dying to know what I will be backing. Well, here goes. I like number 20 Daffodil, for no other reason than that the name leapt up at me off the page. That’s how I pick ‘em. And that might explain my track record. Yes, I know that a mare isn’t supposed to win over this distance, and I know that I am turning my back on Saint Bart, but I think jockey Chris Munce will do a good job. And at $16 on the TAB when I last checked, it’s not a complete outsider. As for picking the trifector, I will have to take Viewed and Roman Emperor to make up the three. After all, you just can’t ignore the track record of Bart Cummings.

Of course, the real winners on the day are usually the bookies, but if we all have a bit of fun without getting into too much trouble then that’s enough for me.

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