Friday 9 July 2010

Off to the races

This week I made my first ever trip to a race track. "The Races" are a perfect opportunity for the class-based British society to strut its stuff, with innumerable options for different seating areas and "enclosures", each slightly more prestigious than the next. A number of people seemed to have paid extra for the ability to watch the races from the center section in the middle of the course; I can't see that the seating was any better but they did get to be seen by everyone else walking across the track before each race. Somebody even arrived by helicopter, parking their aircraft (and leaving it all night—you can see it in the photo above) in the middle of the course!
It was fun though with everyone in their posh summer dresses, running back and forth from the track to the tables to the betting windows. And we even managed to win enough to just about cover admission, food, and drinks. Not bad for an evening's entertainment.

Among other things I learned that the odds on the favourites shorten closer to the race as more people bet on them. So if you're betting on a favourite, you should do so early and with one of the betting houses near the track, which pay out based on the odds printed on your ticket. Conversely, if you're not betting on a favourite, you should place your bet at the last minute or with the betting windows, which pay out odds based on the final total of bets placed (they make a risk-free killing from a straight mathematical percentage off the top). Also, the "three-way" bets, which cost double but pay out 125% for a win and 25% for a 2nd- or 3rd-place finish, seem like a good idea for decently-ranked (but non-favourite) horses with odds between, say, 5-1 and 7-1.
So of course, now that I have a fool-proof guaranteed system, we're going to have to head back more often to capitalize on it. Or... maybe I should quite while I'm ahead.

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