512 Words

Victory Dancer

Steve Stringer

My first two outsiders won. I should have been celebrating but I wasn't. Not yet. I could have been in pocket but I wasn't. Not yet. Two wins in a triple accumulator isn't enough. Two wins in a triple yankee is, but yankees aren't my game. A week's earnings on the nose, accumulated. That's the only way to bet. And Victory Dancer was pretty much a cert for the third. How can a horse with that name lose?

"Come on Dancer. Come on my son." It was useless. Usually was. A distance back before the last. "Come on Dancer. You can do it." Then he could. Floating Lil, the leader, fell. Forgotten Hope fell. Digby's Dawn unseated his rider landing on the leaders and the grey, Ryan's Brother, refused to get involved. By the time Victory Dancer arrived, the fence was clear. He did his best to fall, but couldn't and staggered towards the line. Back at the fence, Floating Lil was on her feet, eager for her reluctant jockey to remount. She floated past Dancer to victory.

"I've won, I've won." The pathetic little four-eyed git next to me jumped around like he had a nest of scorpions down his pants. I wanted to deck him. Lay him out cold. What did he have to be happy about? Anyone can bet on a favourite. Probably only won a score. "I've won. I've won five pounds." A fiver. A fiver! For Gods sake man, I've just lost thirty grand. Thirty bleeding grand. I could probably buy Floating Lil for that. Buy her and sell her for glue.

The PA system crackled into life. "There is a steward's enquiry." A steward's enquiry? Into what? Interference? Gotta be. Floating Lil interfered with my Dancer. I danced in front of the loud-speaker. Ten minutes it took. Ten minutes for me to think how I'd spend the money. I'd buy a bag of nuts for Floating Lil. Invest the rest.

The speaker crackled again. "The result of the stewards enquiry is..." A pause. "Come on you bastards. Spit it out."

"Interference. Floating Lil is disqualified. Victory Dancer is the winner."

I'd won. Couldn't believe it. No jumping, no singing, no shouting. I just stood there. I didn't even react when some pisshead spilt his drink over me. I'd won. Fourteen years it had taken. Fourteen long, long years. But now I'd won.

I slowly made my way over to Honest Harry's pitch. He wasn't jumping either. Nor singing. Nor shouting. Just standing still, like me. "Hi, Harry," I said. He grunted and began counting notes. He hadn't laid off enough. Because it was me. Had to cut his odds for the fourth to pull in enough. I didn't care.

I've never seen thirty thousand in cash. I thought I'd be pushing around a wheelbarrow of notes. Instead you could barely see the bulge in my pocket. A bit disappointing really. But thirty grand is thirty grand. And definitely not for wasting. This was going to be invested. Invested in a big pile of chips down Big Jack's casino.

Copyright ©1998 Steve Stringer. All Rights Reserved.

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September, 1998
Issue #29

512 Words