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The Horses Are On The Track

The Horses Are On The Track

It’s been a busy year for Blaze. Highlights include a picket line in my street [my footpath only just recovering now thanks to this wonderfully cool and damp spring], time travel [allegedly], a romance with a certain red haired politician [allegedly] and now he wants to write his biography and start his own religion.


All that and his new job which is very demanding of his time so that he is losing touch with his favourite televised sports, The World Poker Tournament and the Spring Carnival horse racing.


Now I don’t really understand the poker although I do like the jargon. If you did a random paste up of country music lyrics and thriller novel titles you would get what I mean e.g. Down The River, Big Blind, All In, Full House etc.


It’s not great TV though and not very innovative either. If its good enough to track how far an AFL player runs in a game surely we can rig one of these poker players up with a bit of kit showing heart rates, alcohol levels, bladder fullness etc. while they play. It would be much more exciting knowing that someone is busting for a piss but can’t leave the table because they have just been dealt two Aces. At the moment all you see is bunch of generally overweight Americans, often with sunglasses on, tapping some green felt, moving chips around and attempting to appear inscrutable. Americans doing inscrutable just end up looking shifty. Some ecstasy slipped into every second player’s drink would also up the ante to use a bit of jargon.


We are in between the football and cricket seasons so of course now is the time for TV sport to focus on things that go fast around a track. I struggle to see either car racing or horse racing as sports. More a pastime of some sort but either way the least said about the boredom that is car racing the better. 


But Spring is predominantly about what Australians like to call the gee-gees. And seeing as Blaze, like me, does not live in Sydney or Melbourne he must indulge his passion through the live telecasts. Blaze also assures me that because of his genetic makeup he secretes an odour that horses and other similar animals equate to marauding wolves and therefore any time he steps foot on a race course the horses go crazy and he is banned on courses except those in Mongolia where he would be considered a warlock and prematch entertainment. This is probably untrue.


I pointed out to Blaze that he is not really missing much. All you really are watching is some rich people get richer, various TV commentators prattling endlessly about sires and dams, beautiful rides, off the bit, late plunges etc. while cross promoting their channel’s other shows and conducting inane interviews with footballers and their wives/ girlfriends all the while interspersed with endless blokey advertisements for betting companies.


Shit and there I was thinking Australia had a drinking problem. Well we have very successfully merged our drinking problem with our gambling fixation in a way that must be the envy of governments looking for extra tax revenue around the world.


And by the way what is it with the interviews with the jockeys at the end of the races? One bloke on a horse interviews the jockey while he is riding the winning horse back to the stables. The bloke doing the interview has this rather weird looking helmet with antennas sticking out of it and a Go Pro on it and a microphone clutched in his hand. The questions I can assure you are not too technical.

Things like “Gee, she ran well. Didn’t she?”


For fuck’s sake no one rushes up to me with a microphone when I…. just do my job.

Yep. You’re a jockey; you have practiced for years what you do week in week out. Which is get on the back of a racehorse and stay on till hopefully it comes first. No doubting their courage and dieting skills but shit like they say - you only had to do one thing.


I reckon it would be so much more fun to interview the losing jockeys instead of the winner. Fire off some tough questions from the get go like,

“How much were you were paid to throw that race?

Or “Mate that was shit, my 87 year old mother could have got that horse past the post quicker.”


Another thing I noticed as I watched a bit of Saturday’s telecast was that people actually walk around wearing caps that have their favourite horses’ names on them. Odd I thought. After all it is one thing to walk around with the name of your footy team on a peaked cap but another to have the name of a horse. Now everywhere he goes Blaze has taken to wearing a cap with his favourite horse’s name on it. And it is not a horse you would think of either, not a multiple race winner like Winx or Black Caviar.


On Blaze’s cap is “Slipadictoome.”

Apparently it is pronounced /sly ‘ paddock ‘two’ me/.


Blaze is in a syndicate with his mysterious Uncle Brian who lives out somewhere where the rain rarely falls and Slipadictoome is going to be their ticket to a fortune. I don’t know who else is in the syndicate but I am not expecting any Sydney shock jocks or ex Test cricketers.

I do think they may have…. wait for it, the cart before the horse because they missed the barrier trial for Slipadictoome, this is where the horse does its first steps to racing stardom, because Uncle Brian slept in. My understanding is that most of this sort of stuff is done in the early morning and as Uncle Brian still missed the barrier trial held at 9.30am I think there are some problems to be sorted out.


Blaze showed me a picture of Slipadictoome that Uncle Brian had sent him. It was hard copy, not an email attachment and I couldn’t help thinking that the horse looked familiar. Then it hit me. The photo was of Mr Ed from the 1960s TV show about a talking horse. I pointed this out to Blaze as any good friend would but he would not believe me till I found an old clip from the show on YouTube.

He assured me that this was just Uncle Brian’s sense of humour and once the NBN was working again in Brian’s area he would email him. Until then he was sure his monthly direct debit would continue to go to the future champion’s upkeep and fee.

Blaze said Gatesy and I should go with him to see Slipadictoome’s first race in another month or two out in the bush somewhere. Given Gatesy only flies over the middle of the country and Wolf Creek scared me to death I think we will probably pass especially as there are no wineries near by.


Anyway, as much as I dislike this shameless circle jerk between government, business, celebrity and the associated spruikers who make money from it, I get it that this love for betting and drinking is in Australia’s national character as it is in Blaze’s.


And I don’t really want to be some leftie who wants to tell everyone how they need to live and therefore spoil the fun of problem gamblers, problem drinkers, money launderers and governments too lazy and/or cowardly to raise money without relying on our baser instincts but isn’t it time we had a bit of think about what this sort of thing says about our priorities? It’s one thing for things to be legal and legitimised but does everything have to be promoted, commercialised, and publicised.


Besides Blaze wants to build up a stable of racehorses with names like Phil McCrackin, Ivor Biggin and Shotmecochoff. I tried telling him that even for a country that projects a race barrier draw on to the nation’s most famous building those names will never be allowed but he wouldn’t believe me. And he might be right.


Six songs about horseracing is too difficult.  Just songs about horses are not enough so Horse With No Name, Wild Horses and Horses do not count.

But I bet you at 3 to 1 you can’t find two better tunes than the sadly underrated The Hold Steady with their song Chips Ahoy and Queensland’s own wonderful Halfway with their tune Dulcify.

Giddy up.  

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