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The subtle art of tearing up your losing betting tickets - free lessons this weekend

Opinion

Jim Tucker offers up proof, if ever you needed it, that he’s no authority on horse racing. But at least he knows where to find his socks.

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There’s an art to tearing up losing betting tickets at the races where there will be more “experts” and fun-lovers than anywhere else in Brisbane on Saturday.

Eagle Farm is the place to be to ignite Queensland’s Stradbroke Season program with a little help from the sliver of sun now poking through the clouds.
Moet & Chandon Derby Day will be an altogether more invigorating experience than the “Prime Minister’s Cup” run in the wet last Saturday. We were all saddle sore after weeks of campaigning.

A democracy sausage with sauce and mustard plus a dash of Antony Green punditry can cure just so much.
That’s why all horses with a hint of political flavour (Seat of Power, Green Shadows, Political Debate, The Chosen One, Polly Grey, Brereton, Red Wave) have been eliminated from my Saturday tips.

There’s the first giveaway that twice-a-year racegoers, like many of us, are looking for help in all the wrong places.

What use is studying the form guide, when you are going to pick horses based on how you once enjoyed bar life in your 20s (Away Game), a dear cricketer (Bigboyroy), a love for Mary Black music (Irish Songs) or a French mate you made this week (Blondeau).

Or back an old friend’s horse (Soxagon) in the BRC Sprint because of a typically curious naming story.
The bay foal popped out with four white socks as leg markings. When the vet visited a few months down the track, the socks on the front legs had faded to nothing.

“The socks are gone,” he said. Brainstorming on the horse’s race name contracted it to “Soxagon” which also fits a racing superstition.

Seven-letter names have been a thing in Australia since Phar Lap captivated race lovers in the 1930s.
At least, old mate owns a winner, nine times over.

How many of us have fallen into the illusionary trap of believing owning a racehorse could be just about the coolest thing we ever do?
Owning the tail of a poor racehorse which seems to be eating caviar while it spells for most of its career, outside Beaudesert, is enormous fun when the food bill arrives.

We all have a racing yarn. It’s a sport rich with them at this time of the year.

When three-time Queensland Derby-winning jockey Larry Cassidy looks out onto his backyard, he knows that Winx has paid for part of it.
He rode the champion mare just a single time in 2015 on the Sunshine Coast for the first win of her astonishing streak of 33 straight victories. Winx won the Queensland Oaks a fortnight later in her only winter carnival appearance.

“The first of the 33. At least, I’ve got that to tell the grandkids,” Cassidy said.

He used a French saddle in that race and pretty much tossed it in a corner at home and forgot about it.
All jockeys have lean times with injuries.

Cassidy remembered the saddle: “I chucked it up on eBay and got $7000 for it. I walk out back at home and know Winx paid for a third of the backyard makeover.”

I had the privilege of interviewing the late Darby McCarthy at the Queensland Indigenous Sports Awards one year when he spoke of how the world opened up to a boy from Cunnamulla because of his craft as a horseman.

He also made a point of history many of us should find hard to believe. He won his third Stradbroke Handicap on Castanea (1966) “when I still wasn’t recognised as an Australian. He could be hailed across the nation but not until 1967 were Indigenous people recognised as Australian citizens.

The best tip I ever gave was on course at the 2003 Melbourne Cup when an eager Kiwi journalist visiting for the Rugby World Cup was wanting some guidance. It just wasn’t a good World Cup for the Kiwis … upset in the semi-finals and Mamoul finishing 23rd.

Derby Day at Eagle Farm is now a bumper 10-race card with extra races from meetings cancelled by the rain. The XXXX Doomben Cup is a very tasty viewing bonus.

A day at the gallops is one of the only sporting events where you can enjoy it equally by knowing too much as a big-noting ponce, a lot, a little or not watching a race at all.

You can enjoy it just spending too much money on a black and white outfit to contend with the right colour theme for Derby Day’s Fashions on the Field.

Horsey ties adorned with the colours of jockey silks, a good hat, a flashy jacket, an ambitious dress…where else can you wear them today?

Being dressed up will give you at least a chance of participating in another race day tradition … wangling your way into a swish marquee with no invitation.

The exclusive function space for free-flowing Moet champagne and a banquet of Asian fusion tastes from CBD favourite Madame Wu might just be the best vantage point on Saturday.

It used to be more fluid in the days of marquee hopping when fascinators came off for mixed wheelbarrow races on the lawn in front of the grandstand.
Corporates have rushed for the hospitality options without the cloak of COVID restrictions in 2021.

At least one high-roller of the past had a great creed for his staff when he let them loose amongst the unlimited alcohol, fillies, colts, marquees and good times of the winter carnival.

“Not the first, not the worst” was the catchcry which equates to never being the loudest, drunkest or poorest loser on the day. There is always camouflage in being second-worst.

That’s the time of the day, around race eight, where all those carefully crafted betting systems are tossed away.

Real expertise is only found at those desperate times when the “expert” is standing next to you at the urinal, “No.7 in the last, mate, I know someone.”

Soon after, the cleansing of betting tickets begins. Some mates like to tear them up, others just flip two or three over the shoulder for effect. Others, just let them drop limply to the ground as another little tile for the carpet of betting slips.

A bunch of winning tickets, a lucky trifecta even, will make it a glorious day.

Don’t take a race tip from a mug like me. The thing is about days like Derby Day on Saturday you can have a ball just breaking even.

Jim Tucker has specialised in sport, the wider impacts and features for most of his 40 years writing in the media. He knows nothing about horse racing but loves a race day. It’s Burrandowan, Eagle Farm and Flemington in that order.

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