Category Archives: Horse Racing

The better you bet?

I must admit that when I heard this news yesterday, I was pretty stunned. Mind, its quite apt in the week in which I get (briefly) to Las Vegas, that the US decide to shake up their betting legislation dramatically.

For those who know, here in the UK, betting outlets are everywhere, in the form of betting shops, though according to some, nowadays they are more like mini casinos, or amusement arcades. As I now only go in once a year (or twice, if like this year, I get winnings), I have no idea of the pros, or cons of the glittery betting terminals now in all the shops, as I never even glance at the things. Apart from the Grand National, I havent had a bet since William Hill made me redundant in 2015, nor do I plan that to change…well, in the UK at least!

Up to now, if you wanted to bet legally on any sport in the US, you either did it in Nevada, or through a Nevada outfit, and that was it. Principally Las Vegas, though I suspect Reno had options too. Horse racing, well there is on course betting there, and some states have betting outlets, purely for racing, and thats it! Yes, I have actually been in an off track betting shop in New York State, firstly about 30 years ago (somewhere near Watkins Glen), and slightly more recently, when I went to Rochester, but they were like old fashioned betting shops over here, very basic, not places designed to stay in for hours. But other sports, oh no!

Oh, please, yes, people in the US bet on sports games outside of Nevada, very illegally, but it happens! So anyway, recently, the state of New Jersey started a court case to permit venues in their state to bet on all the other main sports. Yesterday, they won! In the case of Delaware, they seem to have only been waiting on the result of this case to start doing the same. On top of all this, numerous states have got things in early planning stages, and will follow in the near future. Some of those states listed didnt surprise me (Yes, New York was among them), but then there was ‘Bible Belt’ states like Kansas, and Oklahoma, wow! Yes, I could see the irony of me working in a betting outlet in Pottawatomie County, Oklahoma, in the footsteps of Clara Johnson! No, I dont imagine it will happen, especially with me being Transgender, but I cant deny I would love the irony of that!

Sadly, the only state I’m going to visit this year isnt on the list, Washington, and I dont think Florida was on them either, and thats only a maybe at this time. But yes, sports betting in the US, legalized, who would have thought it? So if anyone needs experienced staff to run one of these outlets for them…? Be a fun thing to do before retirement, I must admit!

Right, video time. The moment I knew I was blogging this, this song came immediately to mind. Not one of those songs that The Who are remembered for, but anyway…

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What do you go for?

Generally nowadays, most sports that I’ve seen in person in my life, I’ve seen both pre, and post transition. In fact I cant think of one that I’ve only seen post transition in truth. There are a few, that I only saw live in school years, because of being on school teams, so in those days, annual trips gave me the chance. The two I remember strongly are tennis at Wimbledon (I wasnt any good, but hardly anyone played, so others got the chance to go, to fill the coach), and athletics, because despite all my physical limitations, there was something about me, and a shot putt, that just clicked for a couple of years, so…Crystal Palace, for some competition saw me there once. The only other two that ring a bell in that sense, are football, because of course when I was young, all boys were expected to go to the game, so I had that initiation of life in my time. I cant see me ever going now, in truth, but never say never, and all that…

The other, and probably only sport that I havent been to post transition, and think that it might be fun to do so, is horse racing. Not because I have any great interest in the sport nowadays, but purely and simply because I think it would be fun, just once, to get dressed up nicely, and taken to the races. Or at least go, if nothing else. In truth, I cant remember the last time I went to the races in this country. I’m guessing it would be Newbury, at some point in 2001, as I working there at the time. In fact, I have been to 1 meeting since then, but it was in the US, at Philadelphia Park, and even that must be about 10 years ago, or more. That was fun, no entry fees! To be honest, I suspect that one of the reasons I havent yet fulfilled my ambition to go to the races in a nice dress, and shoes, is the cost of entry to meetings over here, especially the bigger ones. Yes, Yorkshire sensibilities with money, and spending it, probably play a part in that call.

There is also the factor that one of the major reasons for going to the races is the gambling side of it, and lets face it, I’m a once a year punter now, so…is it a silly thing to want to do? I guess its just one of those silly, completing the circle of life things that I feel I would love to do?

So what brought all this on, you ask? Well, most of my race going has been less than major meetings, with just one little exception, the Punchestown Festival, in Ireland. Yes, that started today. In truth, I watched one race, the fun one. Yes, the one over the cross country course, much more fun than standard racing lol! I went there a few times in the 90’s, never been back since, and now probably never will! Likewise, the only course I’ve never been to, that I would love to go to, is a quirky one. Yes, Laytown, on the beach. I know, you wouldnt wear a nice dress to go there, lol! Still would be on my dream list, but likely to go no further now, I suspect?

Will I complete that circle in life, who knows? If you asked me honestly, probably not. So many reasons its silly to want to do it, and just the one that makes me want to do it, but I’m sure unless I get free tickets somehow, will not get done, ah well. But, maybe…? All the same, dont expect me to wear heels, if I do! 😛 As for Royal Ascot, I really dont think so! Please, me, in a silly hat?

Fine, what would I go to the races for, but to be one of those beautiful dames, of course! So, 30’s musical time…

In the working years

Its funny to think, in the week when I reach 60, that as little as 8 years ago, if I’d been off this week (and fine, I probably wouldnt have been, in that case), I’d be retiring from work this week, and drawing my state pension. Yes, up to April 2010, women retired at 60, wow! Since then, much to the annoyance of those affected by it, the pension age for women has risen to 65, to match men, and in the next couple of years, will actually go up to 66, the age I will get to retire at. Dont get me wrong, something had to be done, as everyone (well, most people) seem to live longer now, so this was sort of inevitable.

One of the amusing challenges I have to look forward to, or think about in that case, is one of my occupational pensions! Yes, William Hill, round 2 (there have been 3 rounds in all), between 1985 (2 years after starting there) until I left in 1999, I was paying into an occupational pension scheme with them. And actually, that was drawable, even for a man back then, at the age of 63! And I guess if I’d worked there now, for 33 years, with 3 to go, it would be quite a decent sum! But no, it was about 14 years, so not a fortune (I’m guessing about £3000 – 4000 pa, from what I can remember of last salary), but better than nothing.

The thing is, since then, I’ve changed gender, I’ve changed name twice, and though ‘theoretically’ I’ve got the deed polls to cover that, I’m not sure how easy they would be to find? National Insurance number hasnt changed though, and at least one of those names was used on William Hill, round 3, so who knows how complex that would be? Still, something to think about in the next 3 years or so, for sure. Not a fortune, but given the state of my body, a top up to wages like that might be handy? And where I’d start, 22 years after leaving, no idea? Anyway, something to consider, I guess?

Its funny to think what I’ve packed into my first 60 years, though yes, the transition stands out as my proudest moment by far. Maybe one day, I’ll even brave the surgery, and get everything done, though as I’m not one for surgery now, for the sake of it, I cant see it, unless the need really arises to get ‘my bits bobbed’ as such.

Its funny though. I’ve written, I’ve acted, but in neither case, anything I’m likely to be remembered for. Well, up to now at least, anyway! Still a few years to go, hopefully, though how much more acting I will get to do, no idea? I know, given that I will definitely play the role on Friday, you could say I’ve got one more part, but I suspect I might be the only one looking at it like that! I suspect most, if not all of the others just see it as helping out, and being dressed in an old fashioned way, but we will see?

Writing, well I keep saying I might do more when I ease off work, but doesnt seem to be happening just yet. I only wish I could gather enough information to do a biography of a certain chorus line dancer, and bit part actress, but given she died in the 50’s, and any children (she mentioned one, a daughter, seemingly) would be in her late 70’s by now, if still alive, if I could hope to trace her!

Oh, other point of amusement for you. Not surprisingly, for someone who has spent so much of her life working in the betting industry, the Cheltenham Festival has always been a bit of a special event for me. When I’ve been able to, I’ve tended to take some time off that week, ostensibly because of my birthday, but hey, its good racing, so… Well this week, I missed a couple of races today (only able to watch 5 on ITV), because of the need to go to the doctors, I’ll miss all of tomorrow, due to getting things done to me for Friday, and then I’ll miss all of Friday, because of the Blackpool thing! Funny thing is though, I didnt really mind. Is it because I’m now a woman that I worry less about it? Who knows? I’ll let you know next year lol!

Right, thats enough, dont want to keep you here forever with my waffle. So, video time. In my humble opinion, one of the greatest singers of my lifetime. Yes, I used one of his songs recently, and here’s another!

Perfect planning? What?

So, I was just wondering when logic, when arranging fixtures went out of the window, in this case, horse racing. A little while ago, I was making my selections for tomorrow afternoon’s Pick 6 races, and suddenly realized the 2 main meetings tomorrow, are Chester, and Haydock Park, which is near Newton Le Willows. For those not of a geographical, or racing talent, these tracks are about 30 miles apart! Thats right, the race going community for both these tracks, is pretty much the same area! So, by racing at the same time, they are cutting both their neighbours throat, but their own as well.

Because, if you think about it, if they raced on different weekends, there is a good likelihood that many people would support both tracks. But short of cloning, tomorrow, its one, or the other. To add to things, just 80 miles up the road, is Cartmel, and guess what, they race tomorrow too! Slightly further afield, but again, less than 80 miles apart from each other, Beverley, and Catterick both race tomorrow too!

So fine, you’re thinking, the rest of the country, south of that line, will have plenty of options too? Wrong, south of that line, on a Bank holiday weekend, there are 2 meetings, and one of those is in the very west of Wales. The last, Salisbury. And yes, thats it!

Meetings used to be arranged by central planning, and if that was still the case, then the meetings would have a better spread, I’m sure. But no, the glorious greed of bidding for meetings, or simply arranging them regardless, has left us with this ridiculous situation.

I know, I wouldnt be going anyway, but it just all seems crazy, and ill planned, to me. Its not only the small area of England that has more than 1 meeting, its the very large area of England that really has no viable racing option tomorrow, too.

Whereas, with a little bit of sensible planning…Oh, I forgot, sensible planning has gone out of the world, nowadays!

OK, rant over, time for the video, and all that. You could say there are a pair of clues to this, but besides all that…

Nothing more than a dream

Yes, I’m a bit of a sucker for contests, principally free ones, that might at least give me a bit of joy, if I ever won one. I know, stop laughing, with my record, I’m about as likely to win one, as swimming the Atlantic, but anyway, I give it a go.

So, I admit it, each time there is one, I give the Pick 6 on Channel 4 a go, even though my horse tipping skills were never great, and even less so nowadays. But someone might be going to win £10,000, and if I enter it, well, yes, fine, I enter it, and make a losing entry, for sure! Something went wrong last Saturday, I actually picked the first 2 winners, but it went rapidly downhill from there!

The one sport I do decently on contests on, is Golf. I assume its because there is a major stats element to selections for that sport, aided by the fact there is a major ‘horses for courses’ feel to the game. Hey, there is one running on CBS at present, where I am 52nd overall, out of over 15,000 entries! I know, cant last, but the prizes are only open to US residents, so its just practically for fun. But yes, loving doing it.

About the only other sport I do much fantasy stuff on, is the NFL. Again, I know a bit, and as they only play once a week (a major reason I do not look at baseball games), I can find the time to do my entries. Skill level? Modest, I do decently, but never threaten to win anything, for sure.

So yeah, now I’m going to do a contest on a sport I know little about, and care for even less, football, or soccer, as they call it, depending which side of the pond you’re reading this. In truth, the last few weeks of the season, I was doing some silly game, attempting to pick 6 correct scores on English football, for £250,000, if you got them all right, but lets just say I never got close!

Next month, something that would have driven me nuts, if I was still in a betting industry call center, will happen. Euro 2016, or something like that? Yes, that big a football fan, arent I? Well, one company that I may not ever work for, but have great social media contact with, is The Hager Group. The reason I probably wont work for them? They’re in Europe, and my foreign language skills nowadays wouldnt pass muster. Shame, because they seem a nice set of people to talk to, but anyway…Fine, they’re running a prediction competition for Euro 2016, and I’m going to give it a go. If you want to, the link is http://www.hagergroup.com/en/media/online-prediction-game/1024-783.htm and I’m sure they’ll appreciate your entries. Some nice prizes, by the look of it, for those who like gaming, and things, by the look of it. Yes, again, I’m not a major gamer in the slightest, so I may not be the expert to say things like that, and I certainly dont need a football, at my age. All irrelevant, the chances of me finishing anywhere close, has to be zero, or less!

OK, if anyone wants to give me any helpful tips for selections, feel free, I havent a clue! But fine, it should be good for a giggle, if nothing else. And hey, someone has to come bottom, it might as well be me!

Right, the video. What I might have for about 5 minutes of the first game, just maybe?

Dress you up?

Alright, fine, given that I didnt want to do another passport office, or weather related blog, I thought I’d give this a whirl. Neither situation is great at the moment, but thats beside the point. Though in a sense, this came about because of the weather in the US, but anyway…

It seems this video has pretty much gone viral, so you’ve probably seen it before, so I’ve pinched one of the shorter sections

Yes, absolutely adorable, but people do forget that parts of China do get well below freezing in winter (Harbin has an ice festival), so this may not have been as much of a shock for this panda, as some might have thought. He had probably never seen anything quite like it in Washington, mind.

So fine, someone decided to play along with it, and this morning, I saw this,

Yes, great fun, and probably not a bad way to stay warm in some parts of the US at present, safely inside of that outfit, even when rolling in the snow. And yes, most definitely I would, given the chance. Which leads me on to…

I’m actually putting up tips for a site, on Facebook. No, not anything I dont like, like football, or stuff I dont think I know enough about, like horse racing, but on the sports I think I do, like American Football, and Golf. And fine, I’m doing a decent job on it, even more so after posting a number of winning selections for the Carolina game on Sunday. Not getting paid, but at least its keeping the mind ticking over, if not assisting the ever decreasing bank balance! There is a very good subscription service there too, I might add. Any gamblers who want details, ask at any of my many routes of contact (Here, Facebook, Twitter), and I’ll provide you with them.

But at the moment at least, I’m just posting on the non subscription board, along with a few others. What happened last week was that someone posted suggestions for one of the all weather meetings, and they didnt do very well. Someone else took note of them, backed them, and lost money, and then proceeded to call the whole thing a group of muppets, or something like that. At which point silliness abounded, and the Miss Piggy jokes started to flow, and developing into a few other muppet characters for other regulars. The trouble is, both us ladies fancied being Miss Piggy, but anyway…a few photos went up about it, great fun.

Oh, and me, I love the whole dress up idea, whether you call it cosplay, or just dressing up, take your pick. So yes, fine, I commented that I’d happily dress up in any of those type of suits, given the outfit, and given the chance. But fine, especially at the moment, I’m in no position to buy any for myself! But if anyone wants to get me something, I’ll definitely provide photos, though I cant guarantee playing in the snow, around here!

I know, not going to happen, but it would be fun! Oh, and one last photo before I sign off, this got posted on one of the many vintage type boards I inhabit on Facebook today, a couple at the races, about a century ago.

Day at the races

Not quite what I’d normally wear to go to Doncaster races on Saturday (if invited), but I would if the outfit was provided, you bet I would!

Lastly, the video. Well, as so often, the clue is in the title, though its not one of Madonna’s greatest musical moments, I must say

A day at the races?

Well, I had a couple of options lined up for tonight, but given the seeming popularity of the last post, maybe I should follow up in the same style? I may come back to the other matter, if I lack for ideas on Saturday, but for now… more of the joys of womanhood.

When I was a guy, a very, very long time ago, I used to go horse racing. No, I never gambled great sums of money, it was more of a fun day out, though if I could win a few pennies into the bargain, then great. But otherwise…

Most of the meetings I went to, back then, were humble affairs. The like of Taunton, Wincanton, Newton Abbot and Exeter in the 80’s never had dozens of women dressing up in style. Some would dress nicely, but a good percentage, well, they were just there for the racing.

But even back then, when the big meetings came along, the men would be nicely dressed, the women dressed up even more so, but to be honest, those werent generally the meetings I went to. Besides which, most of those were on a Saturday, and in the betting industry, even more so back then, you never got the day off.

Now to be fair, I havent been racing in this country since 2001, when I left Newbury. I dont know, even when I worked at Blue Square, and William Hill again, I didnt show interest in going, no idea why? But yes, many a time, at Huddersfield station, on race day, principally at York, I would see the ladies dressed up, in dress, and heels, heading off to the races. Maybe its a flat racing thing, thinking about it? And yes, just maybe, I have wondered what fun it would be, to square that circle, and go racing as a woman?

No, I dont think I’m ever likely to do it on my own. It either seems a couple thing, or a group of girls thing, if its not just men heading to the races. But yes, maybe one day, I will have to get to the races, in a dress, and high heels (eek), and see what its like, to see it from the ‘other side’ of life. But given I’m unlikely to get such an invite…ah well…

As for Royal Ascot, I dont think so! But I suppose nowadays, with the right hat…just maybe…?

The video, a slight connection. One of those Monkees songs that doesnt get remembered as much as others

Could be the last time

Well, given that the next time I will get chance to write will be Wednesday, if I’m going to do this before the big meeting starts, it has to be tonight.

Yes, starting next Tuesday, for 4 glorious days, is the Cheltenham Festival, the biggest jump racing meeting of the year. And though, in theory, it might not be my last one working in the betting industry, it would seem quite possible that it will be. Mind, I wont be alone, as it will also be the last festival for someone who is one of the greatest jump jockeys of all time, A P (Tony) McCoy. He’s retiring, whereas for me, it will just be a different workplace, hopefully.

It will be about my 25th Cheltenham Festival, but dont quote me on an exact number. All I know is, that I’ve seen, and going back to the very early days, heard a few of them. Yes, back when I started in the betting industry, in the late 70’s, we had no live pictures in the shop. My, havent things changed?

Equally, back then, we opened at 10.00, shut at 5.00 in winter, the latest of 6.30 in the summer, so that has changed too.

But the first Cheltenham memories I have, go back a lot further than that. Yes, I remember in the mid 60’s seeing a horse called Arkle galloping triumphantly around the track. Yes, as I say, I’ll be 57, a few days after the meeting is over. Normally my birthday falls within Cheltenham, but this year, its the week after.

I cant imagine it will be the last time I see racing from the Cheltenham festival, just be the last time I’m taking phone calls at work about it. My favourite race nowadays? None of the quality stuff, its the cross country race! I just love something a little different, thats all.

And though I wont be gambling strictly on the racing, I’m pretty sure I will be risking a tenner in the office competition held over the meeting. It would be nice to win something, especially this year, but I will be up against shrewd tipsters, so I doubt it very much.

So yes, I have one more working Cheltenham festival to ‘look forward to’ at least, but this may well be the last one.

The racing? Tips? You have to be joking, dont you?

So fine, the video is about as old as my first Cheltenham memories

Rainy Days And Mondays

Are supposed to always get you down, and yes, that is a huge clue as to what the video is lol!

But given summertime is now over, on both sides of the pond, its pretty clear that very soon, winter will be on its way. Indeed, just about an hour ago, they showed the view from Foxboro, where the New England Patriots play, and it was snowing! Hopefully there wont be too much of that in Albany, in 3 weeks time, but at the same time, I wouldnt be shocked if there was.

The biggest change at work, is the horse racing. It now starts much earlier, and in terms of the non floodlit meetings at least, it has to end earlier too. Lets face it, most sports nowadays pretty much take place under lights at all times anyway. Flat racing does, though for obvious safety reasons, jump racing doesnt.

So, the baseball season is finally over, after about 7 months of non stop play, I’m sure the players will be grateful for the break. Kansas City fell at the last step, a shame, but after 29 years of nothing post season, pretty awesome all the same. I must admit, Ice Hockey and Basketball dont have much interest for me, though I do plan to take in an Ice Hockey game in Albany, while away.

Yes, 3 weeks from now, you’ll be getting blogs from there, the next big event in my seemingly growing social schedule. 2 weeks later, the works Christmas dinner, for which I booked my hotel room earlier today. I will probably wear the new dress, though the mischievous Harlow element in me wants to wear the much shorter, sexier, blue sparkly dress instead, and show off some leg! I’m sure sanity will prevail, the longer dress, but we will see… 😉

The other thing I did today, was to book the rail tickets for Newbury, for January, after which I will definitely have the Harlow look, in style! Not that I’m as shy as I used to be, but I suspect that once I have the full look (including beauty spot) I might be even more confident in my new self. As far as I know, Paula has no way to make me think I’m actually Jean, but…

Oh, and the boring winter thing, I need to get sorted in the New Year, an eye test, and new glasses, I suspect. If I can find an optician, offering 30’s style frames…they might get some business! if anyone knows one, in the UK, let me know!

Yes, you should have worked out what the video is, at least I hope you have

Horse racing matters

Well, now the baseball season is over, I’d better get back to other issues! Please, its very hard to talk about transgender issues, without knowing what people would like to know about, so feel free to give me ideas in the comments section, and I will see what I can do.

In the good old days, this week would have marked the end of the flat season, in horse racing. In terms of turf racing, it still is, but nowadays we have all year around all weather racing, so the cut off point has got totally lost in the process. To be fair, with summer jump racing too, its even harder to spot where that starts and ends, but anyway…

But in a sense, the working week starts tomorrow, and a great deal of the interest will not revolve around a race in this country, or indeed this hemisphere. Early Tuesday morning our time, we will have the race that supposedly stops Australia for the afternoon, the Melbourne Cup. But because of the time difference, all betting shop bets will need to be placed tomorrow. Beyond the year that Dermot Weld won the race with Vintage Crop, and indeed started the UK and Ireland invasion of the race, it hasnt really crossed my concious that much.

But I’m told that its a combination of Cheltenham Festival (though on the flat), and Royal Ascot rolled into 1 day! No, I doubt I will ever see it, far too far away for my elderly body to go visit. And yes, too early in the morning to worry about getting up and watching it!

So the video, well, its an Aussie, singing about ‘That Day’, seems rather apt.