An unlikely $500k win for part-time gamblers

BARRY LICHTER
Last updated 17:04 29/07/2014

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Strong entry for milestone season at Gore Franco Nelson and Bit Of A Legend on target Nairn hope hot to trot for return Te Rapa racegoers must leave booze at home Noble has his Melbourne hopefuls back on track Melbourne Cup glory harder for Silent Achiever Blood Brotha on track for 3rd New Zealand Cup Hayes has options with imported stayer Spillway Galloper Neena Rock solid in return to track McKay in two minds - Caulfield Cup or Cox Plate?

You couldn't blame the wife for not stirring from the couch - she'd heard too many hard luck stories from Frank and Wayne about their betting in the past.

But, in the end, even she joined in the hollering as the most extraordinary Pick6 in TAB history played out with the two long time mates scooping $500,000 on a rank outsider.

''I'm amazed the neighbours didn't call the police with the amount of noise that was going on,'' says the punter who has chosen to be identified only as Frank.

Their regular Saturday afternoon get-togethers in front of Trackside TV hadn't realised more than a couple of hundred bucks over the years and their near misses had long since caused their family to zone out.

But this time, their two $10 computer generated easybets proved as rewarding as a winning Lotto lucky dip ticket, the half million dollar payout the biggest on record.

The mates had been in the habit of chasing the Triple Trio - usually stumbling at the first leg - but last Saturday the TAB put on a special close of season terminating Pick6 - which challenged punters to link the winners of six nominated races at Ruakaka and Otaki.

''I'd never consider trying to pick the horses myself.  For the last couple of years I've taken numbers, like my birthday, or easybets and I've had more luck than my mate, who follows the form.

''We take turns putting on $40 each week to try to build up some money for a trip to Christchurch for cup week,'' says Frank whose recent wins have been so infrequent and small there's been little point banking them.

Last Saturday the odds looked to be well stacked against them again - even after they survived the third leg when a $25 roughie with the appropriate name Unknown Pleasures dashed the hopes of most punters.

With just one horse running for them in each of the last three legs, Frank admits he wasn't getting his hopes too high - even though he loves taking roughies himself and never backs favourites.

When their horse Kayzed won the fourth leg at $19.10 and their sole runner Radar took the fifth leg at $7.30, suddenly they were left holding the only live ticket.

But Wayne's wife had seen it all before: ''she'd heard that many times what could happen and it never did.''

And in the normal course of events, the horse on their ticket, Thatz David, would have continued the long run of outs - it was the rank outsider in the field, shunned by punters because it was a hurdler running in a flat race. 

''Coming round the corner I could hardly watch the TV,'' Frank said.

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''Then my mate said the horse hit the rail and I thought the jockey was going to pull it up.''

Under the stick by virtual unknown rider Nivesh Teeluck,  Thatz David ''looked like it had done it's dash.''

''Everything is as vague as after that,'' says Frank. With runners spread wide across the track it was almost impossible to tell who was winning but Thatz David hugged the rail and ended up winning by nearly two lengths.

The pandemonium which broke out was still going on several minutes later when their house guests arrived home - ''goodness knows what they thought was going on.''

Frank admits they drank a few too many Jack Daniels with their roast that night and he didn't feel too well the following day when they visited the Johnsonville TAB to collect their money.
There were a lot more zeroes on the cheque than his previous biggest win when he collected $1000 after putting $20 each way on Ernie Els to win the British Open in 2012.

Frank, ''a normal office worker'' said the cheque proved a bit of a talking point too at the regular Monday morning ''autopsy'' at work, where they usually exchanged hard luck stories about their poor weekend betting.

Frank had a bit of a splash out that day, buying his lunch instead of making it, but says he'll be back to the $20 easybets on the Triple Trio and Melbourne quaddie this week.

And he's unlikely to go on a spending spree, the windfall set to go into a fund for his retirement.

He and two mates already had their indulgence, sharing five per cent ownership of a galloper who's about to race and a trotter who has already won four races.

Cup week will have to go on hold this year though, says Frank. ''It's my 50th and it's going to be a pretty good one now.''

- Stuff

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