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Card Backing

Long gone are the days when I used to spend the afternoon at either the Doomben or Eagle Farm races in Brisbane and then hurry HOME after the last, have a quick shower and go out again to the Albion Park trots at night - to either punt up the winnings from the afternoon's adventure or try to "get out" on the trots. Yes, correct, a recipe for financial disaster but, in my defence, it was a long time ago.

Quite often I used to get a lift with a bookmaker whose name was Frank Warniminde. The guy who owned the shop across the road from our house pencilled for him. He drove a maroon coloured 1976 V8 VIP Valiant Regal sedan, one with a black vinyl roof - quite a "toffy" car in those days — and while he tried to pass on the occasional gem of punting wisdom, my young ears were too tuned to other things to listen.

One of the highlights was that, at the end of the night, you used to be able to get the first edition of the Sunday Sun newspaper together with a bag of hot donuts, the ones with the cinnamon and sugar and cooked while you waited in this very fancy donut making machine.

It was at Albion Park one magnificent night many many years when I backed the card—well, as close as I ever have to backing the card when eight of my “certainties”, one for every race on the card, ran second. After all, anyone can back eight winners but it takes a particular talent to back eight that run second. Just a sensational night - not.

This evening of bad luck (note I refrain from taking responsibility and writing poor judgement) culminated in backing a thing at 12/1 in the last race in a really desperate bid to “get out”. It was a pacer called Snowy Oro and driven by a fellow named Noel Croghan who trained at Redcliffe, north of Brisbane.

His racing colours were pale blue with a dark blue star and blue cap, and Snowy Oro flashed down the outside with my last, and I mean my very last, and was unluckily beaten a half head second. Aren't they always? And isn't it amazing that forty years later I can still see the colours?

Croghan protested against the winner which then involved all we desperates sitting around for another 20 minutes while everyone else went HOME and they started turning the lights off. The protest, of course, was dismissed.

Then the realisation that I sadly didn’t even have the bus fare HOME and it was long way to walk from Albion Park to East Brisbane. Up Newstead Road, through the city, across the Story Bridge and past the Shafston Hotel. I still remember every trudged step. It was 2 in the morning when I fell in to bed.

Even worse than not having the bus fare HOME, was that there was no newspaper and those hot sweet donuts were just a fading memory.

The lesson that was learned during that long walk HOME? Your punting money MUST be separate from your living money. Using the mortgage money or rent money or the food money to punt with is silliness in the extreme. You have to have somewhere to live and food to eat. And so does your family.

At the very least, you have to keep money aside for the paper and donuts!