During our year-long trip around Australia in 2008-09, we were fortunate to be on Kangaroo Island in South Australia for the social event of the year, the annual Kangaroo Island Cup race day.
It was a party weekend for the island. On the Friday night before the race, in the town of Kingscote, there was a twilight street party. We went to the party early (as you do when you are travelling) – there was a big marquee on the main street outside the pub, but not many people. Olive got her face painted for the first time, a pretty butterfly. It was a pity that it had to be washed off an hour or two later when she went to bed. Bands were setting up to play later, so all we heard were their warm-ups. Apparently, the party got pretty boozy (as reported by Rob’s Cousin Lisa who went later, after work) and is a highlight of the race weekend for many people.
We spent the race day morning preparing for the big day. Clare was given a hat to wear, which smartened up her travel dress, but Rob had to settle for jeans and a shirt. We don’t expect the country crowd to be very dressed up anyway. We knew we were at a country race meet when we drove up along the dirt and parked along the fence to the track. We could have easily stayed in the van all day to watch the races; however, we had some tips from Rob’s brother in law Richo that had to be placed.
Unfortunately, we missed the first race, only by a few minutes. Richo’s tip for the first race came in first – not a good start for our tipping. We have no idea about horse racing ourselves, so we will be relying on his advice totally.
Once inside the track Olive quickly made friends with a family in front of us, and ate all their food, as usual. Richo’s next tip also came in first, so we knew he was on the money. His next tip was scratched, so Rob had to make a quick decision, and of course, picked the horse that came last. That typifies Rob’s tipping skills.
For the main event, the Kangaroo Island Cup, Rob got himself a Cooper’s beer in honour of the Cup race sponsors. Richo’s tip for the Cup was a very long outsider, but considering his success so far, we had faith in him and still placed some money on it at 50/1, but not too much. The horse followed its form and cantered in well behind the field. We will have to have a word with Richo. He still had two more races to redeem himself.
There was a horse to be auctioned after the Cup race, but the auction had to be postponed as “The horse has not turned up”. They were able to have the auction later, after the following race. The prize included no future costs at all, for the life of the horse, and it was going to be trained on the island. Rob was willing to bet $200, but it quickly went above that, for a few thousand in the end. That would have been a good souvenir of the trip!
While waiting for the horse to arrive, there was a crayfish picking competition, a definite highlight of the day. They kept calling out for entrants in the spider picking competition – we worked out that spider must be a local name for their crayfish. To us, it sounded like they were actually saying ‘Spider Kicking Competition’, which sounded like something else altogether and sparked our interest. The contestants sat around a table on the track, the aim of the competition was to pick as much of the crayfish meat out of the shell as possible. After the comp, they had a table of leftover bits that the crowd helped themselves to (including Clare).
The ‘Fashions of the Field’ competition was held late in the afternoon. Rob’s Cousin Lisa was one of the judges and plugged her new business while at it. The lineup included someone dressed as the Pink Panther. He had a mate Scooby Do also wandering around the crowd. There were a couple of guys in the lineup – Clare thinks that they nominated all the guys who were wearing a suit. Not many guys in the crowd dressed up, but quite a few of the women. The photo of the lineup has them waiting in the horse yards, as they had just put out an announcement asking for some ‘strapping young blokes’ to jump the fence and help move the stage area onto the track. It was taking a while to put together, and they were getting a bit worried that the time for the next race was approaching.
The last two races were also winners from Richo. A great day of tipping by Paul, in the end, he tipped four out of five winners (one scratched) and so a successful day financially for us too. It was also a great experience to be there for the island’s big event of the year.