Aasma Dya: What’s the betting it could be a SATs test?

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What can beat that feeling of anticipation, that stomach churning excitement, that mounting elation and hopefully a climactic finish?

I’m talking of course about a day at the races – the thrill of watching horses or dogs sprint to the finish line, longing for them to win you a few quid.

I might not be a seasoned gambler, but I do enjoy the odd flutter or two – especially when it’s live betting combined with a day out.

My first taste of gambling on speeding animals came a few years ago when a friend organised a work Christmas night out and, instead of the usual meal followed by an alcohol-fuelled jaunt around town, booked an evening at the greyhound racing. IThe snob in me wrinkled my nose with distaste. “The dogs?” I asked. “That sounds a bit common.”

My opinion didn’t change when we arrived at the venue, which looked rather rough and ready and full of old men.

However, any reservations vanished as soon as the racing started and I was hooked.

Lining up to place my £2 bets on which dog I thought would win, I was gripped by the buzz and fever as the four-legged beasts raced round the track in a blur. When my chosen dog actually won, my elation was so great, anyone would have thought I’d scooped six numbers on the Lotto rather than just winning £1.80 on top of my actual stake.

And so began my slippery slope into the world of gambling. Well, it didn’t really – unless you count going to the races a couple of times a year, placing a bet on the Grand National and buying the odd National Lottery ticket.

I did, however, graduate to bigger animals as, after Hubby saw how excited I was after a night at the dogs, he decided to take me to the horses.

I enjoyed this just as much as the greyhounds, if not more, as it had the added bonus of giving you an excuse to dress up in your best frock and heels. When it comes to the actual betting, I am far too much of a coward, so usually restrict myself to £5 a race.As for tactics for choosing which dog or horse to back, forget studying form, listening to tips or going with the favourite. Names and colours are the key to success every time. Sometimes, I even pick horses or dogs based on how glossy their coats are or if it looks like they are smiling at me. Odds are, if the beast is smiling, fortune might smile at you, too.

Little did we realise we would create a couple of gambling monsters, as our two nine-year-olds rapidly became ensnared by the thrill of winning – and even the thrill of almost winning.

Betting odds totally baffle me and are a mathematical minefield as far as I’m concerned. However, our budding Einsteins got the hang of it pretty quickly and were soon carving up fractions like there was no tomorrow. Maybe they should put gambling on horses on the school curriculum ...