“Hollywood” George Edser Big Punter
"Hollywood" George Edser Exploits At The Track Were Frequent News Accounts
Punters generally have a wry admiration for the most successful of their ranks and it was “Hollywood” George Edser who was the recipient of that admiration during the 1950s.
His exploits at the track were a frequent topic of the news accounts of the time and paired with his flamboyant personality and complete disregard for discretion or any sense of conservatism when it came to wagering, made him one of the more memorable colorful characters in the pantheon of Australian horse racing lore.
One of the events that served to define George Edser and fuel his reputation concerned the time he staked his entire bank of 22,000 pounds on a horse named Prince Marni that was listed at 4/9 odds in a field of three.
Any punter who knows the sensation of putting it all into one shot like that can appreciate Edser’s risk. The horse won and Edser had a fresh infusion of funds for his future wagering activities.
He came by the nickname of Hollywood early on, in 1936, when he was having an especially productive meet at the Broadmeadow racecourse in Newcastle.
An unfortunate bookie that was on the negative side of George’s efforts reputedly said, “I wish you would go to Hollywood, become an actor, and leave me alone.”
That would seem to offer as plausible an explanation as any other.
Money Means Nothing To Me On A Racecourse
"I forget I have a family. If I have money I bet until every penny has gone.” Those words were uttered by Edser in describing his approach to punting in an interview given to a writer for the Sydney Morning Herald that appeared in July of 2006 .
Another occasion that polished Edser’s reputation amongst his compatriots was centered around a big win he had at Warwick when he had a big payday from his wager on The Corsican.
So ecstatic was George that he went around the betting ring handing out 10 pound notes to everyone.
Of course, an apparent disregard for the risk of betting on thoroughbreds was responsible for rumours that Edser was so cavalier about his results because he was being funded by illegal operators.
He thus earned intense scrutiny by the officials at every track at which he made an appearance.
He further attracted scandal an innuendo for an incident in 1958 where he was ambushed and shot by gunmen when he was on his way home from the track.
This sort of attention and notoriety is the sort of thing that resulted in the Australian Jockey Club banning “Hollywood” George Edser in 1961.
Not one to be easily deprived on his favourite pastime and source of income, he resorted to using binoculars and a ladder to watch the action over the fences. Security personnel at Royal Randwick caught him skulking about in the tall grass outside the track on another instance.
Not long prior to “Hollywood” George Edser banishment, Edser had backed Tudor Hill in the 1960 Doncaster Handicap. He won 100,000 pounds for that prescient effort, which he then proceeded to see how fast he could make that sum disappear. It was all gone when he pulled off what is considered to be the biggest knock in Australian racing annals.
Easter Meeting 1962
It was the Easter meeting of 1962 where Edser, lacking cash and desperately needing his punting fix, persuaded an associate of his named Frank Large to place 70,000 pounds of credit wagers on Edser’s behalf, spreading the wagers around at three different meetings that were on the schedule.
Mr. Large had gone on a journey to London soon after Edser’s windfall from the Doncaster Handicap and returned completely unaware that “Hollywood” George Edser had burned through the winnings.
Since Edser was banned, he needed a surrogate to place the wagers for him. Mr. Large did place the bets for George, but for some inexplicable reason, he placed them with the crushers rather than with the more legitimate bookies.
The wagers turned out poorly at any rate, and a penniless Edser had no ability to honour his obligations. How he had managed to avoid any serious consequences for that escapade is not certain.
Thirteen years after he was warned off, Edser was reinstated in 1974. He seemed to have wizened from his experience and he rose to sufficient respectability to a degree such that he was included in the ranks of the VIPs at Randwick in 1983.
George Edser, in his unique self-deprecating fashion was on that occasion heard to offer this explanation for his presence amongst the swells: “I walked on a bottle and broke my ankle in three places. They carried me through the member’s on a stretcher.”
History does not reveal whether that bottle was one that Edser had personally emptied, or if it belong to another.