I think there's something in most of us that fancies the idea of getting rich quickly, even when we know that being well-off isn't necessarily as great as it's cut out to be. And I guess it's something that often comes to mind when we're worse off than usual; we may not want to be a millionaire, but a few extra dollars a week wouldn't go amiss. And yes, I know Jesus tells us to be content with what we have and seek the kingdom first, and generally speaking I aim to be content, and seek. Nevertheless there are days when....
Anyway, there have been a couple of times in my life when I've thought that I'd found the right scheme for betting on the horses. I've come across a few people who apparently live comfortably enough by successfully betting on the nags, but from what I can understand it's actually something you need to treat as a job, not a hobby. Doing it casually won't get the results. However, I wasn't planning on giving up my job at that point...
In general I don't go in for sports betting, but something about the horses has always intrigued me, and I actually enjoy going to the races once in a while. So when schemes that didn't seem to require too much effort came my way, I went for them. Yup, foolish.
There was one that required you to get hold of the weekly racebook, and by checking through the statistics figure out which horses fitted the category of ones you could bet on. There would be a disappointing number to bet on each week, I found. People who treat the thing as a hobby are inclined to expect to be able to bet on virtually anything with four legs. Nope, you don't.
I did try this method for a while, though not by actually using any real hard cash. Either I wasn't checking the stats correctly, or the horses decided that losing was better than winning. Anyway, I would have been a pauper if I'd continued on with this system (and used real money).
The other system I remember thinking very seriously about was a computer programme. All the stats were already entered in for you for all the horses through the country, and all you had to do was update these as the next lot of races came along. It looked foolproof. Hmm. It also cost quite a bit to get started on, and again, after great initial enthusiasm, I let it go.
Occasionally when I've been at the races I've had good days - doubling my $2 bet, for instance - but such days are few and far between (as are the days I actually go to the races). Still, there's something about the atmosphere at a race meeting; you see people you never seem to come across in your ordinary day. It's as if the city suddenly produced a pile of people were never walked the streets at any other time.
Somewhat off the subject of betting, but still on the subject of race meetings, I remember going to one particularly striking meeting. Halfway through the afternoon, huge black clouds came up over the hills. A chilly wind swept through the stands, and within minutes there was such a downpour that the gutters on the grandstand roof couldn't cope and the water was pouring off the roof like a constant sheet in front of the spectators. There was thunder and lightning and general weather mayhem.
Some people stood out in the rain - I suppose that's an experience in itself. The rest of us retreated away from the front of the stand, waited until Nature had done her dash, and then dashed ourselves for the cars, over some of the most sodden ground you've ever come across.
The photo is by Kirsten