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How to Look and Act Like An Authentic Punter 01/11/03

With Spring Carnival going full steam ahead and Cup Week rapidly approaching, it is the one time of the year that it’s considered cool to be a punter, so it's important that you know how to look and act the part to impress your friends at the races.

Here are just a few handy hints for looking and acting like an authentic punter.

1. Buy a race book - there are no pretty pictures, but it gives you something to wave in the air as you barrack for your horse. You can also use it to get the autographs of the horses that win the feature races - and if you are really lucky you might catch the winners horse shoes as he flings them into the crowd as he marches victoriously back to scale.

2. Make race book confetti: Tearing off the corner of the race book pages which is supposed to allow you to flick open the racebook to the next race without having to go through page by agonising page. In reality, it's a throwback to the days when you took along torn up telephone directories to the football in the hope of filling the air with celebratory showers of paper... which were subsequently left in your bag because your team got slaughtered by ten goals.

3. Take a pen : you will need one to record all that money you make. Here is where the racebook also comes in handy - for mopping up those ink stains when it inevitably leaks in your pocket.

4. Make Meaningful marks on your form guide - circles, dashes, plus and minus signs and asterixes are all highly recommended. Forget those mysterious symbols in wheat fields as a sign of extraterrestrial life - just try and decipher the marks on a punter's form guide.

5. Ignore the comments in the form guide - these are mass produced by someone in the middle of the night from a standard list of phrases - like ‘keep safe’, ‘respect’, and ‘your child is a pleasure to teach’.

6. If you have not got an account with all 3 TABS then you are fooling no-one. Like those who collect novelty spoons from all corners of the globe, when you open your wallet it should contain cards for all TABS and major bookmaking operations. Just don’t let on to anyone that the total balance from all accounts is $1.72

7. Do the Retrospective Form Guide Analysis - the re-reading of the form guide after the race where everything makes perfect sense - why the winner won and why your selection did not. Just the same way that a David Lynch movie makes perfect sense a couple of days later (not)

8. Do the video form - any self respecting punter will review the races and pick out the ones to follow. The best part of this is when you rewind the video any money you lost on that race mysteriously appears again in your wallet.

9. Walk determinedly towards your position before the race - like someone with a serious investment who is here to do serious business

10. Look like you mean business: It's not enough to just have your race book, you actually need to look like you're reading it from time to time. You need to peer intensely at your racebook, furrowing the brow and occasionally looking up to grimace. While you may not be all that interested in the 3rd at Wangaratta, you can at least fill your head with such useful information as the name of the assistant vet of the course and peruse some spectacular restaurant advertisements such as for the famous Oyster Bar.

11. Call the finish yourself. The race caller might not be game to call it, but you are watching on a TV screen from a funny camera angle and can definitely declare a result - ‘nah - the inside has got that easily’.

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