Image by awmalloy via Flickr
It's quite an adjustment travelling from the fields and cities of Cambodia hot as hades and wearing shorts and thongs every day for two weeks to Flemington at Melbourne Cup time. There I become civilised again in a manner of speaking, smartly dressed, sipping bubbles and snacking on canapes in a world much cooler and a sky much greyer than what I've been accustomed.
Still the transition was not so difficult – the transition to the office today has been much more difficult. It's easy after all – what hardship is there in drinking French champagne. And it is familiar – Flemington is the scene of many a past debauch for me. It was easier still when I won.
I did nothing early and wasn't fussed at it – the day is all about fun, winning is a bonus. Then I picked up a winner leading into the Cup. To that point the day had been a mix of heavy rain and brilliant sunshine. When the clouds parted steam could be seen rising from the ground.
For some reason my thinking on the Cup had undergone a small change through the morning. A couple of horses I'd favoured – Descarado and Precedence – I now sacked. I felt So You Think would be thereabouts, but I doubted now that he would win. Watching the rain fall I became utterly convinced that the French horse Americain would win, and said so.
I didn't back it, naturally. In fact I didn't back any horse outright. I'd put on a quinella before leaving home earlier and now I put on a trifecta at the course. Then as the rain cleared I stood to watch the big race unfold.
As it turns out it was a pretty good race. At a certain stage So You Think looked like it might win, but then I think the race was 300 metres too long for it and it got passed by one and then another horse. Naturally enough the horse that won was Americain.
I knew I had the quinella and the trifecta, and as I looked further realised I'd actually picked the first four runners. Zipping, that great old champion and a personal favourite had kept on keeping on to come in fourth. I was satisfied, happy, more so when I saw the dividends. I made about $4,000 on the race – then managed to get a collect in the final two races as an added bonus.
That's how a race day should be.