As I was looking through my old colour negatives (hence the crappy grainyness) I came across the image below that was taken 20 years ago (gee time flies).
The picture is of my mother and I at the ANZAC day (25th of April), “Army Day” races at Eagle Farm Racecourse on the outskirts of Brisbane.
We had gone to the races to test out some tips a guy I knew gave me. This guy wanted me to join a gambling syndicate so I asked him for some tips to test the infomation that he said he’d give to me in the futre if I joined. Although we have legal off track betting here in Australia, I thought that since my mother was staying with me for the 1988 Expo that she might enjoy a day at the races. I had no idea that the army would be at the race track in force with soldiers, tanks and recruiting tents.
At first it seemed a bit odd. What was the connection between horse racing and the army?
There were a few guys dressed up in old WWI lighthorse uniforms on horseback wandering about, but they weren’t a main attraction. There were also a few armoured vehicles with soldiers standing around them near the almost empty recruiting tents, but I still couldn’t really understand why the army was there at all.
That is until I saw a few large army tents off to one side away from the grandstand. I thought it must have been an exhibition of some kind until I got closer and saw a sign that read “Army Officers only” and soldiers on guard outside controlling who went inside. My mother wanted to turn around because we wouldn’t be allowed in. I was curious though and insisted that we go on. As we got closer we could see the tent was packed with what looked like a party for officers and their families. So that was it! It was a nice little, tax payer funded, day at the races junket for the officers. There were way more officers in the tent than regular soldiers in the whole of the rest of the racecourse.
My mother still wanted to go back but I said “just act like you belong and we’ll just walk in”; and with a nod to the soldiers as we went by them, that’s what we did.
I was definitely the odd one out as far as dress was concerned, (they probably all felt sorry for whoever was my officer father) but no one bothered us as we walked up to the bar. I couldn’t believe it when I saw they were selling a sparkling white wine for three dollars a bottle! So I bought three! Needless to say my mother and I got quite tipsy but we sure did have a great day together.
To top it all off, all the race tips I’d been given came in and I made about $130 from $20. Thanks to the Australian Defence Force with their subsidised alcohol, plus a few good tips, it was the best day that I ever had at the horse races.
After winning at the races I asked the guy who gave me the tips to give me some more to try to see if my success on Army Day had been a one off fluke or not. He said O.K. but that it would be the last time he’d do it for free. So instead of going to the race track I went and placed my bets at the local TAB (the state controlled off track betting agency).
Not only did all the tips not come in and I lost my little bets (wich I didn’t really care that much about) but I found the experience of hanging around a betting shop all day with a bunch of heavy smoking losers very un-aesthetic and I lost all interest in “investing” in the gambling syndicate.
This post was first post of Feb 11 2008