Tuesday, November 3, 2009



1949 and Dad was the local bookie in Thorndon, Wellington. Our house was usually filled with punters drinking beer and placing bets.

One weekend Dad decided to go to the races himself at Trentham and took me with him: I was nine at the time. This involved a train journey and in my memory this was a very exciting time; that is until we got to the racetrack!

My day consisted of a walk with Dad through crowds to stand behind a picket fence for what seemed an age. My eye level came to an adult’s waist height so I couldn't see much: then the noise of galloping horses coming from the distance and getting louder as they approached our position. Through my little window view between two pickets I saw a flashing of horses legs and hooves and then the galloping sound faded away to be replaced soon after with a rising crowd noise then cheers and clapping combined with a mass of swearing from the disappointed.

Dad would then go off to place a bet and have a beer; he would leave me there at the fence to hold our position.

Eventually Dad would return and the whole process of the galloping sounds, a quick view of flying hooves, crowd noise and cheering and swearing was then repeated. After about two further repeats I asked to go to the toilet and I was taken to “The Gents”, and then given an ice cream (yum), then back for several more repeats of my race view from the picket fence.

Eventually the races finished and I sat outside the bar for what seemed forever, whilst Dad “had a few”. He finally staggered out of the bar and we walked to the station and caught the train back to Wellington. I did not become a fan of horse racing in my adult life.

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