Because I’m a contrary sort of bloke, and because I had the sh*ts with the Gold Coast club’s last minute call to exclude members of the non-mainstream press from the members area and mounting yard, I decided to give the fizz and fizzle of the glamorous Glitter Strip a miss this year, and instead of making the usual annual pilgrimage down to the Magic Millions so I could be plundered by ravenously hungry satchel swingers while imagining that I was ravishing sensational dressed to the nines sheilas in my fevered mind, I headed out to Ipswich races, home of the world’s oldest Tote building, to hang out with the common people instead.
Well that’s what I thought I was doing when I bolted out the Polo Club front door fifteen minutes late and threw myself head first through the rear window of my mate Errol’s Cadillac just as he’d given up on me and started reversing out on to the gold strewn Geebung Road.
What was it old Robbie Burns wrote in that damn near unintelligible poem my cousin’s hubby Duncan the Scot from Glasgow read out at Maggie and I’s wedding reception?
He was spot on, and not just because I knocked the rent money off again instead of hitting my target of turning it into a million four either, but rather because of the good folk I met and talked sport and horses with or kissed and cuddled – that and a bit more, but gentleman never tell, especially when the other pair of lips in the smooch has a husband twice his size who is a lineal descendant of Elley Bennett – or even just spotted from afar and took a few snaps of when they weren’t looking.
The best looking of the fascinating trio I met out at Bundamba today was none other than the one time Miss Universe (Ascot, Albion, Lutwyche and Windor) beauty pageant title holder the lovely Danielle Beattie, who struggles a bit in the looks department but makes up for it in personality and her rare ability to twiddle knobs and scull beers.
Beauty and the Beast. Don’t worry though Danielle, ya make up for it with your wonderful personality and outstanding beer sculling skills luv.
Keep that one on the QT though punters and don’t let on to her hubby for he’s a sensitive time and gets easily upset. Don’t tell his boss about my Bundamba Magic Millions day tryst with his missus either because those 12 hour shifts are a huge help to a romance run at the Ippy races on the sly.
Most of all though, whatever you do don’t tell my poor little jockey girl Laura, because the poor princess got all dolled up like the belle of the ball ready for me to take her out to the track where the turf meets the surf, but I got a phone call with a hot tip from Heartbreak Harry just before I was about to don the bag of fruit and step out the door and decided to call up the Cadillac and cruise out to Ippy to back it instead*, so I chucked a sickie telling young Miss Cheshire that I had yellow fever and it was too contagious to risk her riding career by catching while we were cantering in the cot after the last.
I told Laura she didn’t have to dress up just for me. Then again I told her not to get my name tattooed on her rib cage in Korean as well, and she didn’t listen to me then either so what the hell can a butterfly do?
The next interesting bloke I met was the one I didn’t, and he’s that fella who’s always fascinated folk at tracks all around the South-East corner by keenly observing the four legged colts and fillies parading around the ring but never in decades being seen to place a bet.
I remember from the fella from Eagle Farm in old days before they turned it from a racetrack into a wedding reception venue replete with a sandpit for the kiddies, but I won’t give him or his name up because I’m told he works for the world’s biggest punter Zjelko Ranogajec from Tassie doing the mounting enclosure fitness assessments and the Big Z’s partner David Walsh – who built Australia’s best museum MONA – is a mate.
Loose lips sink ships and wreck friendships my old gran taught me when I was a nipper, so it’s nudge, nudge, wink, wink and all I will say is that the bloke bearing the binoculars and wielding the plain looking but wildly expensive hand held vision transmitting device is left alone by the authorities to go about his business and gets away with the type of murder that has seen many a man ejected and banned from the track.
He looks like your average mug punter this bloke doesn’t he?
Think again. He doesn’t punt.
But he does work for the world’s biggest punter taking vision of the starters in every race during their preliminaries and on their way to the start, and he feeds it live to the giant-sized gambler’s team based in several rented floors of the NSW TAB building.
Click, click, record, send
The third person I met was the most interesting of all in my view, and that’s no knock to the one time Miss Universe (Ascot, Albion, Lutwyche and Windsor) winner and the wagering whale’s picture man whose name shall not be spoken, for this fella is known by hundreds of millions and he’s famous around the world.
I speak sportsfans of the great John Gwynne.
The Voice of UK Sport.
The fella who calls the soccer and the speedway and the golf and the cricket and any and all sports in between, but who is most famous and loved around the world for his wildly popular role as the voice of International Pro Darts.
The man who called each of Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor’s 16 world match play crowns, and has brought to life innumerable 501 point challenges featuring legends like Mighty Mike Van Gerwen, and the Flying Scotsman, and Jackpot, and Darth Maple, and our very own Simon ‘The Wizard’ Whitlock from Cessnock.
The wag who coined the immortal lines ‘if you give a sarcastic clap, he might flap’ and ‘if you hold your throw you’ll never know’.
John Bloody Gwynne!
The legend of the Mike!
And there he was sitting on his Pat Malone at a table one down from the one time ruler of the rails bookie ring and exchequer’s elusive friend Lindsay Gallagher at a race meeting held in a heatwave in the arse of nowhere and attended by 27 people, if you count the kids running wild while their parents punt as well.
You just wouldn’t read about it would you?
As Gwynny would say and did , and by being lucky enough to meet the great man today mine did.
John’s out here for the International Pro Darts series that’s been traveling the country and moves down the Goldie next week, and had come out to the Bundamba track because he’s a racing man and wanted to sample the local style.
Unfortunately the oppressive oven like temperatures forced the abandonment of the Ippy meeting after just three races so we weren’t able to put on much of a show for our esteemed visitor, but that didn’t faze the unflappable Gwynny and simply gave him a bit of time to poke around Pisasale land before shuffling on to the next destination on his travel itinerary, which of course was the place where any keen punter would be heading for a cracker of a Saturday evening’s entertainment, the Ippy dogs.
Ya just gotta love Gwynny don’t ya?
After meeting the great man and all round good bloke today I do, and shaking his hand and having a yarn about the horses was an experience I’ll always treasure.
I got to travel home from Bundamba to Brissy in the back seat of the Cadillac with Danielle too, and even with the air-con pumping it was still like a sauna so you can’t blame the plain looking gal for getting her kit off to cool down can you?
What an absolute bottler of a day it turned out to be sportsfans.
* Thanks to the heatwave inspired abandonment of the program after the 3rd race I never did get to back the tip that Heartbreak Harry gave me, which was a shame because the law of averages says he was sure to break his 47 losing coat tug run of outs.