EVEN more than ever the pressure is on this correspondent.
It's Taree Cup Carnival week, you see. So it's the time for we socialites to be seen in all our finery at Sunday's cup meeting at the Bushland Drive track.
Friday's Manning River Times will include a liftout feature about all things Taree Cup. And as has been the case for the past couple of years, it'll also include cup selections from those who know a bit about the racing game and others not so conversant with the Sport of Kings.
Ironically, this correspondent has been on race tracks in every Australian State and territory except Western Australia and that'll change next year when we go, to all places, Kalgoolie. However, we walk onto these tracks armed more with enthusiasm and thirst than any great knowledge. We're the odd man out here, because the touring party includes such racing luminaries as Diver and Pugsley Wright, Ken Bourke, Mark Schneider, Con Berry, Dennis 'Spider' Nowland along with leading bookmaker and renowned people's person, Glen Woodbridge.
Yet in last year's Taree Cup selection section, just one of the 16 prophets - obviously this correspondent - chose the winner, Shalmaneser. We'd like to say we did so based on the galloper's ability to get the 2000 metres, because top jockey Andrew Adkins was on board and the fact the winner was from the Richard Freedman stable. But that would be a lie. We have no idea how we came up with our selection, which, we add, paid a handy $7.
Self-styled racing guru Murray Nelson from 2RE was among those who offered a potential winner. He jumped on board the Kris Lees bandwagon by nominating Dubaiinstyle. It finished third or somewhere, well behind our tip.
Nelson took this with his usual good grace when we later informed him (several times) that we'd outdone him in the Tipping Stakes.
"You couldn't pick your nose,'' he snarled while greasing another kilo of product into his hair.
It's now 12 months on and he's still sulking. We think this goes with being in the radio industry.
However, Nelson said he's ultra-keen to atone and as such he has been poring over the form guide in recent weeks to ensure he's in mint condition for Friday's selection panel, even if he has been a bit crook. Despite his relative failure in 2018, we've given him another chance. We're very magnanimous here. We think it goes with being in the newspaper industry.
So as mentioned, the pressure's right on this correspondent to repeat our heroics of 2018. Nelson has already written us off, describing our success as a 'fluke of nuclear proportions.' Whatever the result, it will be a top day at the cup.