Thursday, March 5, 2009
Dog Day Evening
Live Greyhound racing. As opposed to the television version.
Betting the odds, taking a punt, having a flutter or easy peasey.
All terms used to indicate your involvement with the betting fraternity.
For many an enjoyable pastime. For some an obsession. For a few, a curse.
We've watched in awe as friends have won, then promptly lost, veritable fortunes playing the odds on the gee-gees, the dogs and/or the neighbourhood pub pokies.
An entire industry, from owner, trainer, jockey or handler revolves around the continued interest and involvement of the punting public.
The legions of those dependent on it for their daily fist full of dollars numbers in the tens of thousands; from race course and track administrators to grounds staff and the folk who smile sweetly as they clip the ticket that gives the momentary rush of blood to the head and the thrill of anticipation.
And with that as my mantra I approached an evening with the dogs at the Auckland greyhound racing club in Manukau city.
This small, yet well patronized facility nestles in the folds of South Auckland just a stone's throw from the ceaseless bustle of Auckland's Southern Motorway and, apparently, attracts a loyal group of greyhound enthusiasts.
Indeed, while comfortably buzzing, it was by no means overcrowded. The small seven tier all westher glass encased grandstand, with it's good sized and comfortable dining, drinking and obligatory betting facility is humming with lively conversations. In the bowels beneath, expectant owners brace themselves for surrogate battle with as much anticipation as parents awaiting the birth of their first child.
Handlers walk their coat clad charges in warm up as loudspeakers announce the odds and last minute public notices before the tote closes as the hounds enter their trap.
Around the Australasian racing world there's a combined intake of breath as the bunny bounced into view and they're off!
Less than 30 seconds later, it's all over bar the shouting.
As the dogs are gathered up out on the rainswept track, winners and losers alike check their tickets as the rewards become tangible.
For some it's a joyous event.
For most a collective groan of disappointment and a grimace precedes the turning of a page and a return to the plan of beating the odds.
On the next race.
Oops. Here comes the tried and tested cheesecake, pavlova and watermelon laden fruit salad for desert. Yum!
No gambling here.
Just a recipe for success.