My Mate Ben


When the going gets tough, the weak rack off and run.

That’s not my style;  I’m a pick and stick sort of bloke.

So I want to put my stake in the ground and declare a friendship, not while the going is good for the bloke I’m about to write about, but at a time when it’s not; and I do so both to be clear so that no-one makes any mistake about it, and as a display of solidarity with a fella who is down and getting kicked, not that he can’t take the pain.

I’m a mate of Ben Currie, and my wife Maggie is too.

My relationship with the man I call the Tornado (as in Bernborough, the Toowoomba Tornado) started out badly I admit, with me writing more than a few critical articles about him early, and continuing to do so up to and including the time of his disqualification last year. It wasn’t personal, writing about racing is just what I do, and I wrote plenty supporting him during his persecution by the QRIC as well, and I will continue to do so too.

That’s neither here nor there. I’ve never asked Ben what he did or didn’t do, and I have to intention of doing so because his business is his, and mine is calling it as I see it, not as I’m told.

I’ve never copped a tip or sling from him, he’s never offered one, and I wouldn’t back it if he did, because I reckon I’m a punting genius and that there is no-one better, despite fifty years of evidence to the contrary, interspersed with a few golden runs of success.

Good things come to those who wait I say, and you don’t win at anything by saying its too hard and not trying. So I will be punting until I die, and not with the dead weight of mocks and bad judges like Currie on my back, because some handicaps stop trains.

My friendship with Currie is not based on racing anyway, it’s centred around our shared passion for sport – particularly basketball and rugby league – and our mutual interest in more esoteric fancies like literature, poetry, history, science, art, philosophy and, dare I say it and hope Maggie’s not reading, appreciation of the female human form (him hands on as a single young rooster, and me merely as a married man with an intellectual curiosity and an eye for beautiful things. And a wife whose cousin fought Lennox Lewis for the world heavyweight title).

Both Ben and my Dads are both from Charleville as well, and my auntie Lyndal lives down the road from his parents place in Toowoomba still, so there’s a strange sort of historical bond linking us through the soil and the water too.

A lot of people mistakenly believe that Ben Currie’s dumb.

That makes them the stupid ones in my view, for they couldn’t be more wrong.

The young man that I call the Tornado may have acted like a fool in the past, and he’s the first to admit it, but Currie is right up there in the intelligence stakes with some of the mega successful entrepreneurs, artists, writers, lawyers, judges, legitimate businessmen and doctors that form my eclectic and wide-ranging circle of friends, and would hold his own against anyone in the brains stakes.

He’s just been born into racing, and its what he knows and loves, that’s all. If his parents – good, genuine people themselves – had been doctors, I’m sure he’d a surgeon saving someone’s life right now.

I’m only saying all this because a few people have been bagging me lately for my association with Ben, and claiming that it’s a knock.

Well not me.

I’m proud to know the bloke, and if you knew him you would be too, and if you think there’s a problem with that, then I say it’s your problem not mine. 

You will never see this little black duck walking away from a mate under fire in a trench, and you won’t see me jumping from a burning ship either.

Ben Currie’s grown up a lot as a person and as a man since he’s been out. The loss of everything he loves and all he achieved has hit him hard, not that he will show it, or does he ever complain. Such is life, as the great man Ned once famously said.

But Australia’s a lucky country in which everyone gets a second chance, so come one day Ben will be back, and that will be me you see walking proudly by his side as strolls through the gates of the track.

You can take that betting ticket to the rails and get in the queue right now.


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