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42 Days at the Races

a Punting Adventure, by Helen Thomas; Allen & Unwin. Softcover, 290pp, RRP $35. ISBN: 9781741754568.

March 4, 2009

Imagine being given a cool twenty grand to take to the races. Following a conversation with a publisher about whether it was possible to live off punting earnings, Helen Thomas went forth and gambled.

The mission was to spend every day of Victoria's Spring Carnival - including the Melbourne Cup - "on the punt". Forty-two days of living on hunches, tips, and cunning. Could it be done, and, more importantly, would she be able to make her fortune?

Starting with $20,000 was a big help, of course, but that added pressure. The habit of a lifetime of betting a few dollars here and there would not cut it in this new environment. No, only the big money would really make an impression on the purse.

As a punter a little bit of faith helps, too: faith in your own abilities and in the four-legged athletes doing their job out on the track. This was a valuable lesson - don't stay on a horse all season and then jump ship. Keep the faith. Gut feeling's a biggie.

Unfortunately Thomas made the odd jump off a horse at the wrong time - but them's the breaks.

Generally, the writer successfully drew on her racing and breeding knowledge when following the ponies, but was sometimes swayed by "expert" advice.

Swayed in a good way, or bad? You'll have to read the book to find out the end financial result.



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