08 November, 2010

Things I Just Never Took To I: Horse Racing

Over at The Scrivener's Fancy a while ago, Tony Martin wrote a piece covering ‘Things That Everyone Else Is Into, But Which I Have No Interest In’. Have a read of it, sure. Just don't go on and on about how much funnier his article was than this one, alright?

This series is not one of those Grumpy Old Men-style rants about all of the things that piss me off. Fucking hell, you'd be here all night! No, this is more a list of things I just never took to. Things I feel a barely-disguised, hostile neutrality towards. Like Sweden's approach to Germany during WWII. Like every first date looked at me. I think we've gone about as far as we can go with the metaphors.
Horse Racing:
It used to annoy the absolute bejesus out of my 13-year old self that I had to endure every race form the Saturday Melbourne race meetings while I was waiting for the World of Sport Football Panel to come onto our black and white TV. Racing was a blocker. I'd made a half-arsed attempt to convince myself that I could get into it when the 50c mum put on Rain Lover for the 1969 Melbourne Cup paid $1.65 for a place.

But later that year, joining schoolmates from St Brendan's PS helping out at local stables in Flemington made me aware that horses put out a lot of shit. And the universal method of cleaning out their stalls was to do it with your bare hands and not complain. I wondered if a lot of horsy girls didn't have that piss-their-pants fixation with horses drop away completely at about the same point in the journey.

And it's not like there was any tyranny of distance, either. I grew up close to Moonee Valley, played football and cricket for the clubs that also bear that name, and include among my contemporaries many with a keen appreciation and significant weekly investments in the Sport of Kings. And for the last 22 years, Flemington Racecourse has been at the end of my street, for fuck's sake. Spring Racing Carnival? I'm almost oblivious to it. Hell, a lot of people who go are oblivious to it.But do I actively dislike it? Well, no. But I do have one issue. It bothers me not a jot that rich, famous people have it so much better than everyone else. There's an extent to which I even think that's as it should be. Just in case I'm ever rich and famous. But I don't like the way the Spring Racing Carnival, and its press coverage, is so insistent about rubbing our noses in it. That's all.

9 comments:

Marshall-Stacks said...

My friend who has been a VRC member for 3 decades, just hates that TV slags are all invited to marquees. They do not pay anything.

My distaste is for the poor treatment of horses.
anyhow, I agree with you.

I do enjoy Tony Martin's work.
Boytown and Bad Eggs for a start.

Andrew said...

Entertains the masses. Especially good when there is an election soon.

geoff said...

The photo opportunity is the reason for that flock of publicity hounds falling upon the racing marquees during carnival time. Then never to be seen at the races until next years party. TV covers the races and the producers want interesting people for the cameras to give oggling value. The regular punters and most horse indusrty people are not in the fashion and style pages. Having endured the "Race that Stops a nation" it has the same appeal as training goldfish to jump through a hoop to me. I can honestly admit to having forced myself to be interested in the sport and found that it wanes so rapidly that the annual Melb. Cup give me an instant dose of lethargy.

Tony.T said...

Things That Everyone Else Is Into, But Which I Have No Interest In: live music.

Lad Litter said...

M-S:
Yes, I've heard many racegoers decry the "racecourse as nightclub" phenomenon. Martin's pretty good at whatever he turns his hand to.

Andrew:
Yes, a distinct bread and circuses tone to it, isn't there?

Geoff:
How's the handicap? Racing Victoria reports huge numbers at marquee events but a decline at regular race meetings. Upsurge in membership too. Good luck to them. Just don't expect any enthusiasm from me. If you couldn't bet on it, it wouldn't exist.

Tony:
Fark! That's a big call. I'll give you another: going to the footy!

Frankie said...

I used to be right into the whole Melbourne cup thing until a few years ago when after the race camera zoomed on a beautiful horse, who's foreleg bone had totally snapped and was swinging in the breeze. Took some of the gloss of it for me.

Kath Lockett said...

Funny to think that I live in Flemington and on the day of the (yawn) 'race that stops a nation' we bunked over to St Kilda and had lunch at the stokehouse and a run of Luna Park - it was so peaceful!

Lad Litter said...

Frankie:
I hadn't even considered the cruelty side of it. They are magnificent animals, thoroughbreds. and it was nice hearing the clip clop of hooves early in the morning when there were stables nearby.

Kath:
I spent a few years going fishing. And I don't even like that!

phil said...

Things I've never even remotely considered: teaching goldfish to jump through hoops. No wonder by childhood was so lacking in imagination.