A day at the races: drinks, optimism, loss, merriment | Jack Marshall's column
I’m not a betting man for two very good reasons: I’m not really interested in it and - more importantly - I’m potently awful at it.
Back at uni, I briefly convinced myself that I was a few savvy bets away from making millions at the expense of the large and (tellingly) rich betting companies but, after losing £25 on Stoke City v Burnley, I realised my student bank account could probably do without my delusions of grandeur.
But one has to remain open to new experiences, which is how I found myself at the races recently.
Straight off the bat, the races have the benefit of offering other avenues of entertainment beyond betting. You can sit in the sun and enjoy a few drinks, you can take as much picnic food as you can fit on your person, and you can shoot the breeze with your mates.
Places which allow you to do those three things tend to be pretty good. Add into the mix the heady potential of walking away a rich man (delusions of grandeur, as I said) and you’ve got yourself a proper day out.
And the day starts early with a pint of Guinness at 10am followed by a couple of cans on the coach; cans from a cooler bag me and a mate - in a swoop of genius, might I add - filled with bags of peas so as to keep them cool when we realised the Co-op was out of ice.
At the track, grab your camping chairs, find a spot near a betting stall, and settle in. Dig out a San Miguel from amidst the petit pois and kick back.
The first few races completely passed me by; I was too busy enjoying the drinks and the ad hoc picnic of own-brand Doritos, dense pork pies, and the ambitiously-named ‘pesto pasta salad’, which seemed to have earned a title of 'salad' just by containing a few sun-dried tomatoes.
But then a mate won £45, which set pulses a-racing and belief soaring: if he could do it, we could too. It was simply a matter of time before we too walked away with bulging wallets, the day rendered effectively free by our savvily-earned winnings.
Naturally, over the next four hours, I proceeded to lose £50 betting on horses with amusing names.
But the day was nevertheless a triumph. On the way home, we headed into a local club where we took to more drink and the DJ’s musical offerings enthusiastically.
After harrassing the kindly DJ with tipsy and countless requests for Hall and Oates, Private Eyes finally rang out and I proceeded to happily lose my mind.
And if that isn’t winning, I don’t know what is.