Punting Guru stalks The Everest by Brendan Cormick

In punting circles he is well known. A diminutive figure reeking of incense and chanting for its calming influence while doing the form. The gambler known as the Guru is feared by bookies and the TAB when he spurts incantations after placing a wager.

Legend has it he was born at the foot of the world’s most ­famous peak and has breathed the air at the top of the mountain. The Western world came to know it as Mount Everest in 1865, named after India’s Surveyor General, Sir George Everest, a famous track walker who passed the skill set onto ancestors of the Guru.

“I visited a white house and met Hillary,” he said in an unguarded moment, though the author could not be sure with more prodding whether he was referring to Sir Edmund or Rodham Clinton.

To the Nepalese, Mount Everest is known as Sagarmatha. The Tibetans call it Qomolangma. The Guru breaks from his state of serenity and chirps that, in keeping with long names that are hard to pronounce, Australians will call Everest Chautauqua if the grey flash comes from nowhere and engulfs his opposition like an avalanche this afternoon.

Sagarmantha means forehead in the sky while the definition of Qomolangma is Goddess Mother of the World. The Guru sees this as an omen for She Will Reign, prepared by he of the receding hairline, trainer Gary Portelli.

The Guru is proud to see Peter V’landys run with the $10 million race. He cannot believe the energy and passion shown by the Racing NSW chief executive. “Does he ever rest?” he asked.

When at home working out his bets, the Guru proudly wears a Sydney Swans jumper, which he claims was “handballed” to him by the Dalai Lama, one of dozens presented to the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people.

Attending a recent Randwick meeting, the punter with lofty expectations walked on-course trailing his Sherpa, who was carrying a traditional Tibetan incense burner. At one point, the Sherpa pointed in the direction of the rails bookmakers. On his stand was Robbie Waterhouse. The Guru leant across and out the side of his mouth said, “Him a layer”.

Just as Tibet is known for its Hidden Kingdom, so is Randwick. Behind the grandstand is Kingdom of the Horse,where the Guru does his best work, seeking enlightenment through meditation while viewing the horses as they parade.

Wisdom emanates from a light from the heart of Buddha being visualised. When the Sherpa sees the light, he gets a small statue of Buddha from his and the Guru rubs it for luck before pinning his ears back and betting.

To quote some larrikins from a radio show in the 1980s, the Guru stipulated he wasn’t encouraging people to gamble, rather he’s encouraging them T’bet.

Gamble responsibly.

The Weekend Australian October 14 , 2017

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