I fear I could die in the next 15 minutes!

*Headline Image by Jonathan Rosen

Age and youth are on my mind. This Saturday sees the running of the $5 million Golden Slipper over 1200m at Rosehill, the world’s richest race for two-year-olds. These horsy kids are just starting out in life, but one of them will justify its existence by collecting the lion’s share of the loot on Saturday. Oh, the joyful rewards of precocious youth!

On the other hand, there is decay and death, usually reserved for the old. Unhappily, death came too soon for Australian cricketing great, Shane Warne. Granted, Warnie didn’t look after himself, and his heart attack at 52 did not seem surprising to some. Whatever the case, Australia seems oddly empty without our Shane. This shows what a giant of a man he was.

This snuffing out of a vital man has reminded me, a bloke who has easily out-batted Warnie in the innings of life, that I could drop dead any time. I’m bloated, unfit, have an atrocious diet, and am perpetually anxious about the performance of my once majestic phallus. Let’s face it, the good years are well behind me and it wouldn’t be odd, at 65, to get the finger from the cosmic umpire.

My Spanish girlfriend thinks I’m crazy. ‘The gods take great hombres to their bosom,’ she yelled at me last night. ‘That cricket hombre was loved by the gods. You, however, they have never noticed. Why they come for you now, huh? They don’t know you from a burnt quesadilla.’

By this logic, I am too fucking nebulous to be a hypochondriac. Yet, now I find myself in the clutches of a horrible, health-obsessed fear. I find myself constantly checking that I am still alive. Descartes proved his own existence by catching himself thinking. I doubt, however, whether the things passing through my brain these days even qualify as thought – random pornographic images, drinking choruses, racing commentaries playing in reverse, filthy Spanish curses, and visions of football hooligans beating each other senseless. There are no real thoughts taking place – my head is a boozy fizz of drifting, dancing polka dots that refuse to become pixels. Do I have life? I wonder.

My biggest fear is dying in my sleep, as I won’t even know I’ve died. That’s like watching a race and everything goes black at the 50m mark. To sleep through one’s own death is pathetic. It’s also apathetic. In the Bardo, a spirit will approach me and ask, ‘How was death for you? Tell me everything, mate!’ All I’ll be able to do is burp and say, ‘Missed it.’

But do I want to go gasping and heaving against the crushing embrace of the Reaper? No, I am far too much of a coward! I know Dylan Thomas told us to ‘rage, rage against the dying of the light’, but who wants to do that? The more you rage, the redder you go in the face, and the harder breathing becomes! There was no sense in that Welsh poet’s mind. No wonder he carked it at 39 – he probably forgot to breathe, or some nutty Bohemian quirk.

The best-case scenario would probably be to croak as I shout home my hot fancy in a Gr. 1 feature. That would be to die in ecstasy! Yet, still, my last thought – which some believe governs your eternal destiny – would be, ‘How the fuck do I cash my winning ticket?’ That cogitation would burn a hole in my soul for ever.

The long and short of it is that I am trapped between decrepitude and extinction. Therefore, I keep looking over my shoulder, wondering where the killer blow will come from. It’s like living in South Africa.

Distracting the mind with form study is a convenient ‘out’ but – let me just admit it – I don’t care a great deal for juvenile racing. Those horsy kids can improve five lengths from race to race, and who knows what track conditions they truly like?  They’re works in progress and get feted before they’ve even had time to develop their characters and their foibles. 

Plus, I cannot concentrate long enough to process the form. A stroke could strike, a heart attack could burst forth, or a misdirected, driverless heap of Tesla could jack-knife me into a roadside lump of techno-pulp.

My tip for the Slipper is therefore a guess, which is the well-drawn Sejardan, a colt trained by Gary Portelli. This 5-1 shot has in-form hoop Jason Collett aboard, has already earned over a million dollars, and has a Gr. 2 win to his name. His no. 7 barrier perhaps gives him an edge over unbeaten filly Coolangatta (18-5 fav), the Magic Millions winner, prepared by Ciaron Maher and David Eustace and to be ridden once more by James McDonald. This one has already won $1.4 million in three starts, and if the draws were swapped, I’d reverse my selection.

I’d better stop writing as my Spanish girlfriend is calling me to bed. She is insatiable, which should make me glad, but if my heart is ever going to overextend itself, it’s when I attempt one fuck too many.

Keep the beers nice and cold, Warnie. Anything could happen in the next 15 minutes.


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