With 2008 racing ahead and the autumn carnivals looming, ?it’s time adopted “cool” as a punter. That is, you ?look and act the part to impress your friends at the races.

Here are just a few handy hints for looking and acting like an authentic punter.


There are no pretty pictures, but it gives you something to wave in the air as you barrack for your horse. You can also use it to get the autographs of the horses that win the feature races – and if you are really lucky you might catch the winner’s horse shoes as he flings them into the crowd as he marches victoriously back to scale.

Tearing off the corner of the racebook pages which is supposed to allow you to flick open the racebook to the next race without having to go through page by agonising page. In reality, it’s a throwback to the days when you took along torn up telephone directories to the football in the hope of filling the air with celebratory showers of paper . . . which were subsequently left in your bag because your team got slaughtered by ten goals.

You will need one to record all that money you make. Here is where the racebook also comes in handy – for mopping up those ink stains when it inevitably leaks in your pocket.

Circles, dashes, plus and minus signs and asterixes are all highly recommended. Forget those mysterious symbols in wheat fields as a sign of extraterrestrial life – just try and decipher the marks on a punter’s formguide.

These are mass produced by someone in the middle of the night from a standard list of phrases – like “keep safe”, “respect” and “your child is a pleasure to teach”.

If you have not got an account with all three TABs then you are fooling no one. Like those who collect novelty spoons from all corners of the globe, when you open your wallet it should contain cards for all TABS and major bookmaking operations. Just don’t let on to anyone that the total balance from all accounts is $1.72.

The re-reading of the formguide after the race where everything makes perfect sense – why the winner won and why your selection did not. Just the same way that a David Lynch movie makes perfect sense a couple of days later (not).

Any self respecting punter will review the races and pick out the ones to follow. The best part of this is when you rewind the video ?and any money you lost on that race mysteriously appears again in your wallet.

Like someone with a serious investment who is here to do serious business even if you’re the only one who knows your bet is $5.

It’s not enough to just have your racebook, you actually need to look like you’re reading it from time to time. You need to peer intensely at your racebook, furrowing the brow and occasionally looking up to grimace. While you may not be all that interested in the 3rd at Wangaratta, you can at least fill your head with such useful information as the name of the assistant vet of the course and peruse some spectacular restaurant advertisements.

The racecaller might not be game to call it, but you are watching on a TV screen from a funny camera angle and can definitely declare a result – “nah, the inside has got that easily”.

And, now, what about those various racing terms we use so freely? Do we really know what they mean? Here are some examples from my Racing Dictionary:

BLINKERS: What any self respecting punter wears once carnival time arrives. Especially designed so that you can fixate on the formguide and the tote displays and totally ignore anyone who has just come along on a social basis who dares to try and have a conversation and break your concentration. Very close to the medical definition of catatonic.

LIGHT WEIGHT CHANCE:? Named that because your wallet is going to be a lot lighter when it does not win.

BLEEDER: A horse that bleeds from its nostrils during a race, but also describes the punter who has just watched the horse that did nothing when he backed it to the hilt last week come out this week and blows him at long odds.

ODDS ON – LOOK ON:? Refers to a horse being too short odds so it is not worth backing. Also refers to the incoherent person of the opposite sex who falls into your lap on the train on the way home from Oaks Day.

OFF THE BIT:? A horse that is chasing hard. Also describes the punter desperately trying to get on the next race and dancing and diving from one queue to the next to try and get to the window in the shortest possible time.

COME UP A TREAT: ?How a horse looks in the mounting yard after the strapper has applied the lippy and rouge.

SWEATING UP:? Characterised by a beautiful foamy substance coagulating at the top of a horse’s hind legs – unfortunately the strappers are usually too embarrassed to tell them of their personal hygiene problem.

CELEBRITY TIPSTER:? Either (a) a footballer who confesses that he has an “occasional flutter” but in reality has a $50k credit line with bookies, never fails to bet on every race in all four states, midweek and non-TAB provincial meetings . . . or (b) a B-grade Neighbours starlet (but why is it never Harold?).

MORNING MARKET: A pre-race analysis of potential odds for the day’s meetings – always especially designed to be as far as possible from the true starting odds (we once decided not to back a roughie as it was only showing $7.00 in the morning market – it paid $64 the win come race time). More commonly known by its other initials – MM – or Mickey Mouse market.

APPRENTICE:? A jockey who is just starting out and learning the trade. You can spot the good apprentices – they will be the ones driving the BMW with P plates next to you in the traffic on the way home from the races.

OVER THE ODDS:? Term used by radio and TV to signify that a horse is currently showing better odds on the tote than with the bookmakers. Contrary to popular belief, this actually means that it will start at WORSE value on the tote as thousands of punters around Australia change their bets to back this one.

BETTING PLUNGE: ?A? term the correspondent in the betting ring just loves to use to add drama to the pre-race report. Often they will report several “betting plunges” in a race. Of course, those who actually watch the bookie’s prices know that nearly all horses drift out to longer odds and at best only one will shorten in a race (if any). Also refers to a punter who trips over and falls face first when running to get best odds.

RIDDEN UPSIDE DOWN:?How the overseas jockeys think we run our races in Australia.

TOO CLOSE TO CALL: ?Your pick is just about to get bobbed out in a photo finish.

LATE MAIL: The Christmas card you hurriedly send to the person you have dropped off your list but who sent you one anyway.

SCRATCHING: The horse you knew was going to win.

LATE SCRATCHING: When Paul McCartney decides not to tour because of poor ticket sales.

MAIDEN: A rarity amongst Oaks Day crowd.

ENTIRE: Any punter who leaves the course with his wallet still intact.

PROTEST: The voice in your head that warns you should not try to get out in the last because you need to pay the phone bill this week.

EACH WAY: Means that if your horse does not do well the first time around he gets to have another go later in the day going in the other direction

SENIOR JOCKEY: An apprentice jockey whose voice has broken.

REAL LARRAKIN STREAK: An alcoholic with a gambling problem.

BEEN THROUGH SHARE OF UPS AND DOWNS:? Has been warned off every racecourse in the country.

DIVIDEND PURGATORY:  As described in John Harm’s book ?Memoirs of a Mug Punter, this is the eons that pass between knowing that you have potentially got a good trifecta dividend, and the results coming up on the screen.

* This article is from the www.turfdeli.com.au website.

By T.D. Ell