THE May races are over for another year. That sound you can hear is the sound of everyone in Warrnambool heaving a massive sigh of relief.
Yes, it’s fun while it lasts and the economic boon to the community is incalculable, but it’s like hosting Christmas dinner — by the end of it you can’t wait for everyone to go home.
One thing that often gets overlooked about the May races is that it’s a learning experience.
Here are some things learnt from spending three solid days at the carnival.
Jockeys will scare your kids off smoking
APPARENTLY it’s a myth that smoking cigarettes stunts your growth, yet most jockeys smoke. They’re doing it as an appetite suppressant, but if you ever wanted to help warn your children away from taking up cigarettes, let them hang around and watch the jockeys come out of their room for a ciggie. It’s like watching Sleepy, Grumpy and the other dwarfs taking a smoko break from the diamond mine. Your kids will totally buy the whole “they stunt your growth” spiel after a day at the races.
Young women are either tough or stupid
AS my dad used to say, there’s a fine line between toughness and stupidity. Hence the difficulty in telling whether the young women of today are super-tough and impervious to such minor matters as the cold or they’re just plain silly. How else can you explain their propensity for dressing in the equivalent of two tea towels as the renowned Warrnambool winds send an Antarctic chill across the lawns? Sure, some of them look very pretty and many of them have put enough effort into their make-up to complete a plastering apprenticeship, but would it kill you to wear a coat? Or are you super-tough? Perhaps this is a preparation for the pain of childbirth — if you can risk dying from exposure and avoid the perils of frostbite while dressed in something the size of a pillowcase then you can handle anything.
It’s all about the effort
SPEAKING of dress sense, it’s impressive to see the amount of effort people go to with their outfits. Except for those people who turned up in their trackie daks or wearing a hoodie. Although, to be fair, they were obviously wearing their “good” trackie daks and hoodies ... you know, the ones they save for court appearances.
No betting system is stupider than any other
YOU can pick the really hardcore punters on the first two days of the carnival because they don’t bother to dress up. They turn up in their jeans and windcheaters clutching in their ink-stained fingers a form guide filled with squiggles and scribbles. They’re all business. They’ve studied all those little notations and abbreviations in the racing liftout and actually know what they mean. They watch the horses in the mounting yard, searching for insight. But even with all their research and inside knowledge, it’s not a sure thing — many hardcore punters could be heard lamenting their lack of success over the week. Yet someone mentioned their mum always backs horse number four and somehow ends up in front at the end of the day. Another friend cleaned up with the bookies yet claimed he had no idea who he had backed or why. And there’s always those ladies on the Tuesday who confound the hardcore punters by winning with bets on names or jockey’s silk colours that they like, while the seasoned gamblers tear up their tickets in frustration. In conclusion, all betting systems are equally flabbergasting.
It’s not about the protesters
PEOPLE who go to the May races generally love jumps races. So they were very pleased that there were no deaths or serious injuries from any of the steeple events. But were they pleased for the right reason? Overheard were comments from quite a few race-goers who noted that a fatality-free carnival was great because “it will shut the protesters up for a while”. You probably shouldn’t hope for no deaths only because it means the protesters will shut up. The protesters aren’t going to shut up because the issue probably isn’t going to go away. You should hope for a fatality-free carnival because it means
Your meals dictate your level of importance
AFTER trying to be slightly classy on the first day and having a chicken wrap for breakfast (don’t do it), I realised that this type of cuisine was beyond my level of importance and that I should stick to pies. Because what you eat at the races says a lot about you. Pies, maybe some hot chips, a dim sim or two — you are the working classes and no one particularly special. If you’re in a marquee serving small sandwiches and maybe some calamari, then you’re moving up the ladder. The next rung up features even smaller sandwiches and even fresher seafood, possibly oysters or prawns. I’m pretty sure there’s another level above that and it’s in the Matilda Room. I don’t know what they get served in there but I’m pretty sure it’s gold-plated panda.