Mick at the races
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mick at the races

We had only been back at Nui Dat for a couple of days after a 6 week operation. A few of us had congregated in our favourite boozer Mick had christened, 'The Hop Inn'" That's another story says Mick, I'll tell you about it another day." It must have been a Saturday afternoon as we were listening to the races. As usual, most of us, including Mick, had done our dough with the task force bookie.

Someone made the mistake of asking Mick if he really knew anything about horses. Mick gave him that 'hurt' look like he often did when challenged... " used to be a jockey" said Mick.

"My mates from my first tour with 5RAR owned and trained a horse called 'Jumping Jack'; just for racing at bush tracks mind you, but he wasn't bad over 6 furlongs or whatever that is in the stupid metric system. In any case, the bush tracks were just like the good old days, you know, without all the bloody red tape, rules and regulations that you would have to put up with on them city tracks."

"The day of the race finally arrives" says Mick. "We reckon 'JJ', as we called him back then, would give the locals a run for their money in this country town. It doesn't really matter but I've long forgotten the name of it just now. In any case the trainer wanted to put a decent bet on with the bookies and insisted that I had to win at all costs. Then he leads JJ back into the stable after he'd had a bit of a warm up and tells me that he had some 'juice' from the vet for JJ, to guarantee the desired result."

"The trainer said it was fast acting and he had to inject the juice at the last minute to get the best effect ... a bit like being in the army; I just followed orders and had mounted JJ waiting for further instructions. Then he whips out the syringe full of juice and about to give a shot to JJ, when he jumped sideways like he always did. I copped the bloody lot in my thigh, and I don't mind telling you it hurt like hell."

"Thankfully the stewards were pretty well sloshed, due to the warm beer and the stinking hot sun and they didn't notice anything. Instead they were calling for us to ride our mounts up to the starting barrier. I didn't feel any difference in JJ from our usual rides, but by the time we got there I was feeling a bit queer myself."

"In less than a minute we're off! And JJ's made a good start. At the halfway mark we are still way out in front but I felt him slowing up a bit. Soon we were being passed by a couple of other horses with less than just a furlong to go. We were going nowhere fast and something had to be done real quick!"

Before I knew it, I'd jumped off JJ and was running the two leaders down and in the last few strides I only just crossed the finish line ahead of 'em. The stewards were well and truly under the influence now, as was often the case, and declared me the winner."

"I had visions of the trainer collecting from the bookie and hoped he'd look after me. Just then the jockey on the second place getter appealed. You wouldn't read about it, but because I didn't have JJ's saddle and my whip for the weigh in, the stewards wouldn't announce 'correct weight'."

"Not only did the trainer lose his shirt, JJ only beat one horse home and I reckon, even with my sore thigh I could have run around the track again. Worse still, back home I'm now referred to as the 'juiced up jockey'!"

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