Sunday, 20 May 2012

The New Zealand Diaries: No.13 - A bit of a flutter

There's a time for everything in life. Your first sip of an alcoholic beverage, your first kiss and so on. Life is full of interesting opportunities which we should take advantage of. Live today like there's no tomorrow, that's the saying right?

Which is why, on my recent trip to New Zealand, I decided to try betting for the first time. And wow, what an experience it was.

Now when I say betting, you immediately think going into a betting shop and placing a bet on a football team. But what I actually mean is I had a flutter on a few horses when I attended the Omokau Races.

Oo, fancy I hear you say!? Well, it was rather cool. Situated right in the middle of nowhere, similar to most of the towns and villages in New Zealand, Omokau Races is a fantastic track which attracts horses from across the country to compete.

But the thing that's very different is that it's not horse racing as we would associate horse racing to be. The popular horse racing in New Zealand is actually harness racing, which involves the jockey in a small cart/ harness, being led by the horse. In the UK, we call this trotting.

It's bizarre to see, as if you've wondered back into the Victorian era. But that's the brilliant thing about New Zealand, it sticks to tradition. So following tradition, my family and I set off for the annual Omokau family fun day on a sweltering summers day.

The event was packed, with plenty of activities for everyone. Besides the racing (there were about 12 races throughout the day), there was the opportunity to take part in a ladies fashion show, jump on the bouncy castle and sample locally produced food.

But the racing was the best part. This is where the Kiwi's get into their own, all lining up by the track to cheer on their favourites. To place a bet, it's pretty simple. You can go for a top three finish, a win or you can place a bet on a collection of horses. It's really up to you.

It's best to place a bet with the mindset that you haven't come to win. Start the day with a few dollars, say $50, and don't rush into betting all at once. I had a few bets and they failed, sat out for a while and then placed two more. On the last two, I had won back all my money and broke even (very rarely happens, I'm told!)

It's a day of fun. A chance to place a bet, bask in the hot sun and enjoy a picnic on the lawn with hundreds of Kiwi's all having a good time. For me, this was one of the best days of my trip, for it really was an alternative day out!

Pictures courtesy of Wikipedia

Follow me on Twitter: @kieranwatkins
Read more from The New Zealand Diaries:
No.12 - A day at the Museum

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