I once worked for a racing magazine and one of our contributors, a GP, wrote his copy the same way he wrote his prescriptions. It was illegible.
Once the editor and I puzzled for ages over a phrase only to realise it said "days penultimate to racing". He meant Fridays.
I'm grateful for the lessons I learnt there because I haven't gambled since.
Except on the Melbourne Cup.
When you have no more than a passing interest in horse racing it can be a bit bewildering to make an intelligent selection once a year. That's exacerbated in a field where almost every runner has a chance of winning and there is no way to compare the performances of overseas runners to our local champions.
As a consequence selection methods and systems have proliferated. They vary from complicated mathematical formulae, to computer programs, to picking the horse with the luckiest number or the prettiest colours.
Having been inside the industry I strongly recommend either of the following scientific methods.
Place a medicine glass on the kitchen table, fill a water pistol with coloured water, and stand back.
You are allowed ten shots at the glass before measuring the water in it. The height of the water in millilitres will give you the number of the horse to back—so six mils would point to a bet on horse number six.
If your water pistol skills are so bad that you missed with all ten shots, try Plan B—pin the field to the kitchen door and throw darts at it.
The Melbourne Cup is known in Australia as "the race that stops a nation". Run over 3.2 kms (2 miles) on the first Tuesday of November, it has become so much a part of our tradition that almost everybody, probably 95% of the population, watches the race. (The other 5% accept the inevitable and realise they're not going to get much service while it's being run.) It is a day when most Australians have a small bet, even if they haven't gambled since the previous Melbourne Cup.
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