GREAT DAY: Lismore’s Beth Powers plants a kiss on veteran Lismore Cup bookie Graeme Cook. The financial crisis meant earnings were down for bookmakers yesterday, but punters still flocked to the betting stands to enjoy all the colour of the races.
GREAT DAY: Lismore’s Beth Powers plants a kiss on veteran Lismore Cup bookie Graeme Cook. The financial crisis meant earnings were down for bookmakers yesterday, but punters still flocked to the betting stands to enjoy all the colour of the races. Jay Cronan

We love bookies

MY FIRST Lismore Cup. My first race day ever.

The nearest I had ever come to a horse was on the telly.

I prepared for the big day. A colleague in the newsroom had won $900 at the Ballina Cup. The odds were in my favour.

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After harassing him for racing tips, he relented and wrote down the bets using words I didn't understand like 'each way bet and quinella'.

I stole my daughter's black hat and headed to the races.

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Choosing a patient-looking bookie, I handed him my bet.

“It's my first bet,” I whispered in case the other punters heard. “Ever.”

“Good luck,” he said.

The punters on race day were more than willing to hand out advice.

Len Pascoe, a former fast bowler for Australia, gave me a hot tip.

“Pick a horse with a pointy face.”

And never, he said, never bet on a grey horse.

They always lose.

With the bright green betting ticket clutched in my hand, the race starts.

A loud and incomprehensible voice booms over the mike. Was I winning? Was my horse in front? Jujulio. His name is called. And again.

From out of nowhere the horses thunder by, their hooves vibrating through the ground.

I wave my ticket at my horse. It doesn't seem to help. Jujulio comes in third. I am happy. I've won $5.

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