When I knew my daughter’s dad and his family were coming up to Auckland to spend Christmas Day with us, I knew I had to finally do what I’d always said I’d do one day and book a table at the Ellerslie Boxing Day races. Kate’s dad is a mad keen punter and I’ve grown up taking a keen interest in horse racing.
I bought my mum and my nana part shares in a racehorse one memorable Christmas. I was involved in an incredibly successful syndicate a few years back. Mum has maintained an interest since then in a couple of syndicates and there are some very talented wee fillies in one of them that are cause for cautious optimism.
We were hoping one of the fillies might have been making the trip north for Boxing Day, but in the end, the trainer decided to send her to another meeting. It didn’t matter.
A day at the races was the perfect opportunity for us all to have a fun day out. When Kate was a baby and her dad and I were still together, he would regularly head out to Trentham for the day with a group of mates.
If he came back limping, I knew he’d had a brilliant day with his bets – because he’d shove the cash in his sock in case he got mugged. The bigger the limp, the bigger the wad of cash in his sock, which once went through the wash with hundreds of dollars in it – now that was a new spin on money laundering.
My great uncle, whose farm we used to visit, had the numbers 10 and 6 painted on quite a few big ticket items – the new tractor, the hay baler, the farm vehicle shed – and that was to signify that he’d won the double betting on horses, always using the numbers 10 and 6. The money he got back had been extremely helpful in paying for these major capital investments.
On Christmas Day, after lunch, Kate’s dad and my mum studied the form of the different horses in the different races. Kate, her stepmum and I, on the other hand, were more concerned about what to wear.
I wanted to look stylish but at the same time if it was hot, I wanted to be comfortable and we’d also be sitting for hours on end so I needed something reasonably loose. A nice floaty Trelise Cooper did the trick.
Kate had done a great job of booking us in with a makeup artist who was advertising a special on raceday and although I’m terrified of the malls on Boxing Day, the only hair salons open were in the malls so needs must.
Some of our party were keen to get there for the first race but we managed to hold them off until the third to allow time for hair to be done and makeup to be applied before. Then, at the appointed hour, the taxi van turned up and we were off to join 25,000 other people for a day at the races.