For a few precious minutes, a 31-year-old Sydney policeman who never bets and rarely goes racing knew what it felt like to be one of the bigwigs of the turf.
Det Sen Const Mark Paulo was the lucky punter whose name was pulled out of the hat as the winner of a $50,000 bet on the Doncaster Mile at Randwick on Saturday.
The rules stipulated all the money had to go on the nose of one runner, so he took the advice of his brother and some fellow policemen and plonked it on the favourite More Joyous.
He stood to win $150,000 if the $3 TAB favourite got up.
But sadly for him and thousands of other punters the Gai Waterhouse-trained champion, one of the best horses in the country, never looked a danger in the muddy going.
The four-year-old mare, winner of five Group Ones and 14 races in all, finished a disappointing 11th in the 17-horse field.
Sen Const Paulo, from the Merrylands station in Sydney’s west, was plucked from the public stands to watch the race opposite the winning post in the member’s enclosure.
He stood next to the owner of More Joyous, media multi-millionaire John Singleton, but hoped turned to despair for both of them, as well as all the punters who sent the champion mare out a firm favourite.
More Joyous struggled home well behind $8 winner Sacred Choice in the $2 million classic.
Sen Const Paulo was philosophical about the outcome, saying: “That’s all right, it’s all part of the game. It’s all good.
“I knew at the halfway point it was going to be tough.
“I was going to shout all of my mates out to a big meal tonight if it won, but now I think they should shout me.”
“I got a massive shock when I got the phone call (telling him he had won the bet).
“I thought someone was prank-calling me.”
It was only the second time he had been to the races, and it was his first visit to Randwick.
At least he experienced, for a short while, the elation of being among the moneyed elite of the turf, which was more than many of the elite themselves felt on Saturday.
Driving rain played havoc with the expensively coiffed hair and extravagant fashions of the beautiful people.
Brollies were whipped inside out and high heels sunk into the soggy turf as autumn carnival racegoers endured one of the most miserable weather days for years.