Punters – put a cross on the door – we are a dying breed

I picked up today’s Herald in hope of a good read.  Fool you say.  You are a simpleton. But you see I’m a dewy-eyed optimist despite the fact I know pessimists never get disappointed.  But after reading endless splodge in the early general news about Bad Habbits and Kev Clean with a brief cameo from the annoying Jane Caro (who looks increasingly more and more like the third Banana in Pyjamas) – I was thirsting for some real news.  It was not forthcoming.  On page three there was some borrowed tosh from AFP quoting a study by some Yank psychologist that found that 64% of blokes wanted their dates to cough up a bit of harry nash for the bill.  Really? They interviewed 17,000 people to find that out?  No wonder R&D is being scaled back in this country.

So I went in search of some real news. That’s racing news. News from the Equine Empire.  But it’s not an easy search.  No way.  You need the skill of a Burke or a Wills.  To get to it you have to use your plough to cut a swathe through pages of bleeding obvious.  Through the glamour sports of thugby, ‘stacks-on-the-mill, tip and run, aerial ping-pong and any other minority sport ranging from handball to long distance dating.  And there hiding at the bum-end of the Herald was the good oil from Chris ‘Logie’ Roots, Maxy ‘Lead-Weight’ Presnell and a few other pork-hatted Harrys.

To be fair on Friday the Herald gives us a treat – a weekly dose.  It’s called The Form – our special paper – separated from the rest of the paper like a leper.  But it’s such a relief. It’s an oasis for old timers with sepia memories of Rail Lover, Summer Promise and Gatum and Gatum.  But there appears to be very few people like us who want to read about horse racing or look at the fields as the Herald generally doesn’t give much of a run to the thoroughbreds these days let alone publish the fields during the week. That is unless they are tainted with touch of celebrity like the Waterhorses or the jughead ‘Blue-Tongue’ Singleton and then the Herald indulges in an orgy of he said that and she said this.

No it’s a wasteland if you want to get decent racing stories these days in the mainstream press.  But it is not only the press that ignores us and turns our sport into entertainment. We, the punters are an endangered species, a curiosity to be poked and pitied. I do not include in this category those who bung on a fascinator or slide into a cheap shiny suit once a year and drink gallons of giggle juice then clog up tote lines when we, the Punters are trying to place a decent bet.  Nor am I talking about the poor silly buggers who play one-armed bandits.

By punters I mean people who do the form and back their judgement – week in – week out on horseflesh.  I’m talking about people with faces rubbed red by the sun and looks like dropped pies.  These are my people.  These are the good guys and you sanctimonious others are our enemy.  So a bloke loses his house, his wife and his car – not necessarily in that order and you say “shame”.  I say learn from your mistakes cobber.  Saddle up again next Saturday – you are closer to a win after a loss.  As Pittsburgh Phil, the very successful American gambler said many years ago, “Lose your money, you lose nothing.  Lose your confidence, you lose everything.”

But very few understands us.  We are herded into corners at functions where in conversation we are the subject of superior looks and pitying eyes and ridicule from those who have investment properties, straight teeth and kiddies at Knox or St Brians of the Bruised.  They trot out “you know you can never win” and “it’s a mug’s game you know” as if they have just invented wisdom.

Please. Gives us a break.  Back off.  Go and do some ironing or catalogue your stamps you bunch of wide-eyed bodeens.  We know we can’t win.  What do you think we are totally stupid?  Do you think on Monday’s when we have to eat mince instead a steak we don’t know that we have not won first prize in the four-legged lottery?

You, the enemy will never understand that chancing your arm against the odds is such a liberating force nor do we expect you to do.  Just leave us alone.  Don’t talk to us.  Go off and watch another episode of Master Chef in your fluffy slippers and leave us to imagine the 100-1 winner and all other matters pertaining to the impossible dream.