Homeless Kiwi Cashes in on Cup – Football & Racing News – Star Sports

Sports betting PR legend GRAHAM SHARPE writes…

AN INCREDIBLE gambling story emerged as a result of the recent running of the Melbourne Cup, when it was revealed that a currently homeless gentleman from New Zealand had done what only a dyed-in-the-wool punter might have even considered – by investing just about his last few Kiwi dollars on a bet which simply involved selecting the first four horses to cross the line in the great Australian race.

And that was by no means an easy forecast to come up with, given that the winner was a 7/1 chance, runner up 17/2, third 150/1 and the fourth 25/1!
New Zealand is a country which is sadly deprived of the invaluable competition between on-course bookmakers which offers British punters such a wide choice of where to place their bets. Their racecourses, of which I have visited several of the almost 60 now, seem invariably to be populated by good-humoured locals enjoying a decent standard of sport in welcoming surroundings which would, though, enjoy a much enhanced atmosphere with the presence of some lively on-course bookies!

All of the Kiwi High Street betting shops are run by TAB, which is the only legalised sportsbook based in New Zealand itself – the TAB. In reality though, punters in the country have far more options than this, with dozens of online sports betting sites to choose from.

My son and his family live in New Zealand, in a small town named Petone, which just happens to be where the country’s TAB (established in 2003) has its Head Office. I often pop in there when I visit, to ask whether they have any printed information about their operation available. The answer is invariably in the negative, disappointingly enough.

Petone has a significant role in the history of horse racing in New Zealand, which now boasts just under sixty racecourses – as its beach is said to have hosted the first organised racing staged in the country, back in October, 1842, when the town was known as Pito-one. The races took place on the town’s lengthy, straight, hard sandy beaches, with a four year old called Figaro winning both heats of the principal contest of the day, run over two one and a half mile heats.

One of Petone’s best places in which to enjoy a beer, as I have been lucky enough to do, is the Petone Working Men’s Club, which hit the national and international headlines recently, as this story on their website proclaimed as it explained that the biggest winning punter on the Melbourne Cup was from Petone:

‘A homeless man who won big on the Melbourne Cup from a $5 bet said just a couple of months ago he was crying on the side of the road with nowhere to go.

The man, who wanted only to be known as Robert, celebrated his $106,000 TAB win with a few drinks and a pizza with his girlfriend.

‘Robert’ said he went to the Petone Working Men’s Club to join a group watching the race after placing his $5 bet the day prior.

After the race at 5pm, Robert said he went to the club’s garden bar for a cigarette and was shocked when he looked at his TAB account on his phone.’

Okay, okay, I know some of you may well be wondering how a homeless man can afford to bet, smoke, own a phone and enjoy a drink, but I’m not telling you this story to judge him!

Anyway, to continue. Over the past couple of years Robert’s mother had died, and he became homeless, living in a garage.

Declared Robert: “A couple of months ago I was crying on the side of the street because I had nowhere to go. Now, I consider myself blessed.”

Members of the club congratulated Robert and gave him a memento, a cup with some flowers in it, which I’m sure he’ll treasure.

Robert called his girlfriend, who left work to be with him: “We hugged and yeah, we just had a few drinks and got pizza and went home to bed just staring at the ceiling thinking ‘wow, what am I going to do with this money?’”

I rather suspect his girlfriend had some ideas in this respect!

Presumably, Robert will have watched the Melbourne Cup on the TV – I’m fortunate enough to have seen one live at Flemington, and I have to say the crowd was the wildest, least self-conscious, I’ve ever witnessed on a racecourse whilst never giving a hint of being at all threatening – well, most of them seemed to have lost the ability to coordinate the use of their limbs by the end of the afternoon.

One wonders what Robert’s situation will be when the next Melbourne Cup comes around – I’d like to think he’ll have invested his money wisely, made an honest woman of his girlfriend and got himself a job, I’d also like to think that New Zealand was by then boasting its first Star Sports betting shop, but somehow, I can’t help thinking……..at this point I’ll leave you to insert your own prediction!

GRAHAM SHARPE

Views of authors do not necessarily represent views of Star Sports Bookmakers.

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Author: Eugene Morris