Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Calm before the storm

The first Monday of November every year is usually regarded as the calm before the storm. At least it is for bookmaking outlets in the country. And when I visited JE Enterprises (formerly Nambawan Bookmakers) along Kennedy Road in  Port Moresby earlier today, workers were preparing for the day’s races whilst anticipating a steady stream of punters coming in to place a wager on tomorrow’s big race, the 2012 Melbourne Cup.

An empty bookies carpark and betting lounge. Calm for now
Many a punter would argue that its billing as “the race that stops a nation” (referring to Australia) should be changed to include Papua New Guinea as well.

For that is what this annual event does. Scores of workers throughout the country will be taking extended lunch hours or calling in sick on the day when 24 of the best three year old and above aged horses in Australia and from all over the world take to the hallowed turf of Victoria Racing Club’s Flemington Racecourse to slug it out over 3200 meters to see which jockey and connection will lift the coveted Melbourne Cup.

Regina Rarang, betting floor supervisor at the JE Enterprise bookmakers is anticipating another big turnout by punters tomorrow and said staff at the outlet were preparing for a hectic day at the races. As crowded as their outlet gets on any given day of betting, numbers can easily exceed what the building can accommodate as once-a-year punters join in on the Cup fever.

Her advice to those intending to place a wager tomorrow: “Come in early”. Perhaps as early as 8am. And this sentiment was echoed by co-worker and bookie attendant, Rex Hapeo who said many punters often missed out on betting on this yearly race as the struggle of getting to a betting counter is can be likened to a rugby scrum, only this scrum will have hundreds more props and flankers.

Tomorrow’s installation of the A$6.2 million 2012 Melbourne Cup is expected to be run at 3pm (AEST).

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