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East Coast Racing
Having been prevented from travelling to Perth and Adelaide due to restrictions being put in place by their respective  Premiers, the wife and I who were desperate for the freedoms that we used to take for granted, decided to travel over the border to NSW.

If you drive there, Gladys doesn't require you to fill out any forms, or didn't when we left Danistan on Tuesday February 9. 

By the way, you DO have to apply for a permit to travel back to Victoria. This I did, and as we approached the border yesterday, we expected to be pulled over to have our permits checked. Not a soul was there, so, like every other car and truck we drove straight through.

What was funny, was that someone had painted a large sign and tied it to the post where you cross from NSW into Victoria. The sign said, "enter at own risk" I reckon the wife and I were laughing for a good ten minutes after reading that.

We decided to stay in Wagga for three days, then head on to Newcastle for another 10.

What a relief. Not a mask in sight. People moving freely, and it was the same in Newcastle, with life at almost 100% normal. Just for that alone, it was worth the trip. 

Human nature being what it is, you don't realise how much we tend to take our freedoms for granted, until those freedoms are taken away from us.

There  was a race meeting at Wagga on the Thursday we were there. And to be perfectly honest with you, it was our reason for going, as, although we had stayed in Wagga a few years ago, we had never been to a race meeting there.

I have to say that for a major NSW country town, the facilities at the Wagga Racecourse, are a disgrace. It looks like they have not improved a thing for the public, since 1850.

This, to me, was remarkable, as they have a beautiful course proper which generally speaking, races very fairly.  

The grandstand, if you can call it that, is held up by cotton thread and spider webs, I went into the members corporate boxes as the members was open to the public, and they were frankly, in a disgraceful condition. 

They run the Wagga Cup carnival in May over two days. Top trainers  and jockeys from NSW and Victoria come there and they get between 5,000 and 10,000 people attending. I'll be stuffed if I can work out how they fit them all in. And don't get me started on the condition of the public toilets.

Anyway, we arrived and I had to put my mobile phone camera in line with the NSW contact tracing logo which was placed at the entrance to the track. It took me to their contact tracing web site, and all I had to do was provide my name and wife's name and a phone number. The whole thing was very easy to do, and took about 10 seconds. 

We still use parchment, a feather quill, and ink made out of dinosaur blood, here in  Danistan, I mean Victoria.

Entry was free for about the 60 people who bothered to attend.

It was a hot day, and I felt for the two bookies there,Terry Coelli and Richard Night and his wife, who had to stand under the hot tin roof of the betting ring which also has not been improved in the last 100 years. 

Coelli who I had heard of and read about previously, would be that districts biggest bookie and has been for a few years now. He would be around 60. He operated his stand on his own. Richard Night who I hadn't heard of before, operated his stand, with his wife on the computer.They would both be in their late 60's. 

You could have a reasonable bet with the two of them, although it must be noted that at all these meetings and around Australia, the bookies have Betfair available, so why wouldn't you bet someone 100/each way on a $26.00 chance,which happened, when you can back it back at 40's on Betfair.

I wouldn't go back there again, and any thoughts that I have had in the past about going to their carnival, have been well and truly flushed down one of their disgraceful dunny's.

From Wagga we travelled on to Newcastle. We arrived on the Friday,and the Saturday race meeting happened to be at Gosford.

It was a cold wet day, but it's only about 40 Kilometres up  the highway, and we decided to go.

They have brought in a law in NSW, that no matter what age you are, you have to pay full admission to get in. It was $20.00, yes, that's right, $20.00 for an adult to get in, and as I was told by the person at the gate, anyone over 12 months old had to pay full price. Yet another reason for people not to go to the track.

The facilities there are great. A fully enclosed large area under the grandstand, with heating and cooling as required. Excellent food on sale, and completely glassed in on one side. It's pretty noisy, and quite a few young blokes there having 1.00 each way on the tote, I actually saw them having their bets,and yelling their guts out and high fiving, each other when they backed a winner. I've known a few blokes in my time who can drink, but those young blokes would drink them under the table. 

The bookies ring was at the entrance to the area where we were. There were three of them. Grant Lynch, Phill Maher, and Allan Hinks.  Why they weren't put inside and opposite the tote, whose operators were in total comfort, is beyond me. Well, it actually isn't. 

It was a prime example as to how much bookmakers have become irrelevant to race clubs and the racing powers that be, despite some officials claiming how they add "colour and excitement to a day at the races"

I'd heard of Lynch and Maher, and, as per Wagga, you could have a decent bet with all three bookies. Hinks and Maher would be in their 60's, whereas Lynch, who I did speak to and is a very nice bloke, would be a spring chicken compared to them, being, in my estimation, in his 40's.

There was supposed to be three meetings in one week at Newcastle, but due to wet weather and overuse of the track, they transferred the Monday meeting to Musswelbrook. I didn't fancy a two hour trip up and back the New England highway, so I spent the day with she who must be obeyed joining her in her favourite pursuit, of visiting shopping centres. 

Over the years,we have visited Perth, we have been to every shopping centre there at least 5 times. As long as the missus is happy, so am I. I reckon that not one member here, can boast such a record!!

We went to Newcastle races on the Thursday and last Saturday. It was free entry on Thursday and full use of a very nice members area. No more than 40 people, and one bookie, Grant Lynch who told me "I'm taking one for the team". On Saturday, it was full fee entry, but at least 1,500 people if not more, were there. A lot of young people.  But the highlight for me was watching the young women trying to fit themselves into their tight fitting dresses which left nothing to the imagination. That alone, was worth the price of admission. The missus said I could look at the menu, as long as I didn't touch the food.

The facilities are very good, with about 120 tables and chairs set out in what used to be a huge betting ring, under the grandstand. 50 of those were reserved for pre bookings, but the missus and I had no trouble in getting a table. There are only two bookies working at Newcastle on a Saturday, Maher and Lynch. they have four boards up, as they did at Gosford, and bet on all meetings. 

I remarked to Lynch how I had been there about 7 years ago, and there were 7 bookies. He told me that one had passed away and the others have turned it up. But he added, that he was happy with there being "no competition".

We were all set to go up the highway to Taree on Sunday where there was going to be a heat of the Country Championship,  but it was rained out and the meeting transferred to Scone, a further half hour away. 

Overall, we had a great time, relaxing, and breathing in a lot of fresh air. The races were what I had  expected them to be, from a punting and bookmaking point of view. Some may disagree, but I reckon that the on course bookies and I will see each other out, and that at least for next 5-10 years, we should have a bookie or two at most tracks. 

The older ones in their 60's and 70's love the caper,so they will only give it away when their health prevents them going. So it was with Jack Ashman a doyen of the bookmaking fraternity in NSW and a fixture at Newcastle for 50 years, who gave it away only a year or two before he died in his late 80'sor early 90's. Going to the track kept him, as it does others alive.

The days of old with rows of bookies, thousands of punters, and plenty of cash changing hands are gone. Our Grandchildren will never experience what we have. Unfortunately, the races have become a victim of the technology that they have embraced. from encouraging people to congregate in Tab's to phone betting accounts,to Sky Channel, the list goes on.

So, if, like me and the wife, you enjoy going to the track and betting with a bookie, and, like us, you have a bucket list of tracks you want to visit, do it while you still can and there is a bookie on track left to bet with.

The atmosphere isn't anywhere near the same, but like us, you may still get some pleasure in breathing in that little bit of atmosphere that is left.


    Thank you Bookie for that very interesting review on your trip to those racecourses in the Far East

    bookielover likes this post.

  • spinkingspinking    2,986 posts
    You are lucky Bookie that the cheese&kisses likes the races. The other option is you would have been spending a lot of time shopping. I know which one i would prefer

    thefalcon, bookielover likes this post.

  • thefalconthefalcon    17,392 posts
    i've known the pair of them for years..still dunno who wears the strides.. :-??

    Moonraker dislikes this post.

  • bookieloverbookielover    2,351 posts
    spinking said:

    You are lucky Bookie that the cheese&kisses likes the races. The other option is you would have been spending a lot of time shopping. I know which one i would prefer

    When I first met her, she knew nothing about races or racing. Anyway, as the conversation between us continued, I asked her what her dad did and she told me, then she asked me what mine did.

    I told her, my father is a bookmaker. She said, "really? what has he written?" 

    I had to explain to her, that he wasn't an author and spent the next ten minutes describing what a bookmaker did.

    Shortly after we got engaged, I took her to her first race meeting and she was hooked from then on. She's not a punter, other than taking trifectas. 

    She has just always enjoyed the atmosphere and what used to be the excitement of standing in the betting ring, and watching the big punters clash with the bookies including my dad. 

    Things have deteriorated both betting wise and atmosphere wise over the last 48 years, but fortunately for me, she still loves going to the track when we can.

    By the way, I don't know if anyone else on this site can match this. 

    I met my wife at a mates place on a Sunday afternoon. She was the girlfriend of my mates sister, who I had never been interested in, but had never met her friend.

    We sat around a table drinking tea, you didn't get sloshed on a Sunday arvo on wine or booze,  back in 1973, at least we didn't. I offered her a lift home. On the way home, I asked her if she wanted to go to the pictures, as we called it then, the next night, and she said yes. 

    We went to a very forgettable movie and I asked her if she wanted to go for a coffee or tea. We did, and as we were enjoying the tea and conversation, I looked at her and said, will you marry me, and without batting an eyelid,she said yes. 

    So here we are, 48 years and 4 kids and two grandkids later still together.

    Is there anyone else out there who got engaged 24 hours after meeting their wife, or a very very short time after meeting her, and has stood the test of time and are still together?

    jum, paraletic, thefalcon likes this post.

  • bookieloverbookielover    2,351 posts
    thefalcon said:

    i've known the pair of them for years..still dunno who wears the strides.. :-??

    You know she only wears dresses Falc ;)

  • thefalconthefalcon    17,392 posts
    i know mrs. bookielover very well and i wouldn't have let her go either.... :x

    bookielover likes this post.

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