Dr. Geoffrey Hutson's breakthrough book Watching Racehorses is out now! Learn about behavioural handicapping: how head tossing, pawing, salivating and other behaviours provide telltale clues about a horse's readiness to run.
Order Online

The Townsville Cup

July 24th, 2010 1 comment

We’re frisked at the gate and our bottle of water and Diet Coke are confiscated. You’d have to be kidding, wouldn’t you – water banned in stinking hot Townsville? But it might be gin or vodka and the Coke might have bourbon in it. They don’t want punters bringing their own grog. And no one under the age of 18 is admitted to the track. This is a serious, adults only piss-up. Overheard on the way in – “I’m only here to drink”.

This is racing in FNQ – that’s Far North Queensland. I’m starting to fear the worst. I’m expecting a crowd full of bogans, Hansonites and redneck punters in Bob Katter ten gallon hats – but I’m wrong. Everywhere I look there are beautiful, nubile young women and smartly dressed young men in suits and ties. About 80% of the women have a tatt, and about 80% of the men have a tie, and about 40%, both blokes and girls, have a hat. I’d say the average age is about 23 years. I feel a bit old and crumpled.

Conditions for horse watching are poor. The public are not allowed into the horse stalls area and I can only gain access after paying $20 to get a members pass. Many horses seem to be unattended in the stalls, which I regard as a serious negative, and some are even hobbled. The mounting yard is long and narrow so that only about half the field parades past before going on to the track. Most of the mounting yard fence is taken up with the catwalk for the fashions on the field. The conditions are so bad for horse watchers that I don’t even have a bet. But it’s ideal for people watching. Hats and tatts. The boys go for the Gleeson, the pork pie hat popularised by the retired VRC steward, Des Gleeson. And the favoured tatt spot is at the base of the neck on the back.

Tora Tora Tora wins the Cup.

We leave before the last race. Heels are coming off now. And blokes are falling out of trees.

One Response to “ The Townsville Cup ”

  1. marco says:

    welcome to rural australia. at goulburn you can only watch half the horses in their day stalls and cowra is like townsville.

Leave A Comment

All fields marked with "*" are required.

Allowed tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>