The Dissemination of Thought

Just because it's in print doesn't mean it's intelligent…

Posts Tagged ‘horse racing

If they walk up the wall, we’ll place bets on them all

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It’s funny how the something we take for granted as an everyday part of Australian life is viewed by those unfamiliar with our lifestyle, but a friend’s reaction to the concept of camel racing – and betting on it – drove the reminder home last week.

“You’re going to race what?” she said with stunned confusion via Skype after I’d explained the concept of the Boulia Camel Races.

“So they’re like those feral camels you see in the desert and people actually ride them like horses?”

After I reiterated what the iconic event was all about and that there were also on-track bookmakers, she started laughing, shaking her head at the idea of wagering hard-earned money on the ships of the desert.

“Man, you Aussies will literally bet on anything,” she said with her thick New York accent.

Camels fly down the straight at Boulia Turf Club. Well, they’re going as fast as camels can. Source: travel.ninemsn.com.au

Her comments about Australians having a penchant for betting on anything that moved made me think, and after our conversation ended, I sat back and contemplated the gambling eccentricities of punters in this country.

That’s when it hit me.

We actually will bet on anything we can get odds on, including what are essentially feral pests.

It’s part of what makes Australia the unique country it is but when you consider what else we place wagers on, an annual punt on camel racing doesn’t even make the top three weirdest things to race and bet on.

I don’t know why, but Australians love to bet on pests.

In addition to camels, cane toad and cockroach racing round out the trifecta of animals-we-could-do-without that we’re happy to support with our wallets, as long as they’re racing and not invading our houses.

A cockroach gets its racing number before going head-to-head with a dozen other insects. Source: news.com.au

While the noxious cane toads are raced weekly in pubs from Cairns to Coolangatta, it’s the cockroaches that raise the eyebrows of most tourists when they witness them racing for the first time.

Perhaps the most iconic of all cockroach races in Australia is held every Australia Day in my old stomping ground of Brisbane, at the Story Bridge Hotel in Kangaroo Point.

According to a spokesman for the annual spectacle, the event “has had a long and distinguished history” that set the foundation for cockroach racing in Australia.

No, I’m not kidding.

I couldn’t make this up if I tried but it gets better: organisers fly in cockroaches for racing.

Yes, racing cockroaches apparently travel to compete, just like Black Caviar.

“We actually buy them [the cockroaches] and fly them up from Melbourne,” the spokesman said when I posed the question last week.

“It’s a huge event.”

If insects and feral animals aren’t your style, you can always bet on the lizard races in Eulo.

Feel like a seafood fix?

If so, crayfish racing may be your forte.

The first time I saw a crayfish race was on Magnetic Island in about 2004 and while the crustaceans are hardly the most enthralling

racers, they are certainly supported by spectators like they’re running in the Melbourne Cup.

Worse still, punters who decide to bet as well as splash out the $10 or $20 needed to purchase one of the ‘thoroughbreds’ act like they have just purchased Makybe Diva for $15,000.

The only difference is that, if your crayfish doesn’t perform well during the race, you can always commiserate eating with a little bit of garlic butter and a cold beer.

I spoke to my friend in New York again last night and after I rattled off the list of amphibians, insects and crustaceans Australians regularly bet on, she burst out laughing and said it proved her point.

“Do you guys just look at random animals and decide to catch them, race them and bet on them?” she queried.

Who said horses and greyhounds were the only animals you could bet on?

Australia’s love of a punt is evident in the crazy things we race and wager on but we wouldn’t have it any other way.

So, if you are betting on something ridiculous – including the proverbial flies on the wall – in Australia this weekend, take a moment to reflect on how unique what you are doing is as you put your betting slip into your wallet.

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Why you shouldn’t tweet if you shit on the street

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Okay, I’m just going to say it.

I don’t want to hear the name Black Caviar uttered for at least three months.

When something without opposable thumbs has more than 19,000 followers on Twitter, enough is officially enough.

She’s fast, but she can’t tweet. How do I know? She has hooves. Source: smh.com.au

The fact that a horse has a Twitter account in the first place defies logic, but common sense and the Australian public have never been bedfellows when it comes to the champion mare.

Don’t get me wrong.

I am not questioning how good a thoroughbred Black Caviar is – the proof is in her 22-0 race record – but I’m beginning to tire with the incessant media coverage and public hysteria surrounding the five-year-old.

Like almost 20,000 others around the globe, I follow Black Caviar on Twitter, which probably makes me part of the problem.

I originally followed her account to keep up-to-date with news pertaining to her on-track performance but as her number of followers swelled, something very strange happened before she departed on her much anticipated
Royal Ascot campaign.

She started tweeting in the first person.

Given the Peter Moody-trained superstar has hooves, I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest she may have a little help in the social media department.

That said, if it is in fact her tweeting, she’s transcended just being one of the world’s best sprinters to be the only horse in the world capable of operating a BlackBerry.

“Luke is feeling that what happened the last few strides will detract from my win, is breaking his heart. It shouldn’t, WE WON TOGETHER.” she tweeted on June 24 in defence of embattled jockey Luke Nolen.

What have we become as a sport-loving nation when we are falling over ourselves to read – and respond to – messages apparently from a non-toilet trained five-year-old?

Cleary, Sydney Morning Herald chief sports columnist Richard Hinds agrees with me.

In his column on June 24, Hinds pondered Caviar fever and wrote, “Not even the lack of opposable thumbs – or, actually, any thumbs – diminishes our wish to believe it is Black Caviar tapping away on her iPhone, not some clever proxy.”

I’m glad I’m not alone as I question if we have gone too far in our love of a racehorse.

With all the hype, rock star treatment and 24/7 coverage, it’s easy to forget she is just that: a horse.

Yet the Australian public has gone Caviar crazy, embracing – and purchasing – every conceivable novelty bearing the mare’s name or famous salmon and black colours.

Do you think this taxi navigates the streets of London as quickly as Black Caviar covers ground on the track? Source: heraldsun.com.au

Thousands of Australians packed into Royal Ascot at the weekend wearing Black Caviar ties, vests, shirts and, unfortunately, dresses.

I’m sorry, but there are few things on this earth more disturbing than a middle-aged woman wearing a shiny salmon dress covered in black polka dots while drinking champagne as the world watches.

Some have taken it further, demanding their local tattoo artists give them a permanent reminder of the country’s wonder horse.

Collingwood Magpies star Dale Thomas is the most high-profile person to sport a Black Caviar tattoo, but at least his is the result of losing a bet to one of the horse’s owners.

Many Australians are getting ink depicting the mare just because they can.

What’s next, getting the entire Australian Olympic and Paralympic teams tattooed on your back just because you are getting into the Olympic spirit?

While there’s no doubting Black Caviar is an incredible animal and one of the best Australian thoroughbreds of all time, I think it’s time to step back and smell the metaphorical roses and horse manure when you begin covering yourself in salmon and black tattoos or believing a horse – living in a stable – is utilising social media to communicate with her fans across the world.

The mania surrounding the mare won’t stop on its own.

The media organisations – who make a fortune every time a Black Caviar story airs or goes to print – and the five-year-old’s connections – who are also doing very well, thank you very much – will publicise her until they are flogging the proverbial dead horse.

I have no problem with supporting our best export since Phar Lap but I do have an issue with Black Caviar’s publicity people trying to convince us she’s capable of sending personal messages of insight and inspiration, 140 characters at a time while they get rich because of our apparent gullibility.

Irrespective of what Black Caviar – or someone cleaning her stable – tells you on Twitter, you don’t need a spare tyre cover with the five-year-old’s head emblazoned on it for your four-wheel-drive.

Just because the Channel 7 presenters tell you “everyone will be showing their support by wearing her colours” when she jumps from the barrier doesn’t mean you should spend $2000 on a tailored, three-piece suit in salmon and black.

Isn’t this some form of child abuse? Source: hylandsportswear.com

The next time you feel like adorning yourself with a Black Caviar tattoo or donning a suit that mirrors Nolen’s silks, remember the mare is just a horse who defecates where she pleases, which may have included on the roses at Royal Ascot.