By Barry McEneaney
We’ve been led to believe that Salvador Dali died from heart failure in Spain in 1989. It’s ironic that the greatest surrealist of them all should have expired in such a mundane manner. Maybe a little too ironic.
Sure, if he’d been savaged to death by his pet anteater after pouring a bottle of absinthe down its neck or if he’d perished in a ballooning accident involving a machete-wielding condor, his demise may have been a little more credible.
A little-known rumour suggests Dali faked his own death, tired of the sycophantic hangers-on and life in Europe, and moved to Japan to reinvent himself as a developer in Tokyo’s thriving gaming industry. Some speculate that the evidence behind such a theory is that his greatest tour de force is already amongst us in the form of the Japan World Cup video series.
In a world of ever-dwindling attention spans, this YouTube clip is something of a slow-burner, but stick with it and you’ll be richly rewarded. Prepare to be shaken to your very core.
After struggling desperately to process what you've observed you may have slumped into an existential malaise, but you’ll emerge from it the stronger for what you've just seen.
However, if you intend driving later in the day or operate heavy machinery, you may need to lie down in a dark room for 15 minutes.
You're left asking many questions. What exactly is an UMA? Well, it’s an acronym for an Unidentified Mysterious Animal, more often referred to as a cryptid by zoologists. But so many more questions remain unanswered.
Where do the chorus girls prancing on the suggestively phallic French raider ply their trade when not competing in top international races? Would Trojan Horse improve for a step up in distance? Will the Cher lookalike be booked for Leopardstown’s post-racing gigs during the summer? Why are we here?
Virtual racing, or 'cartoon racing' as most of the auld fellas in your local betting shop probably refer to it, is rightly derided, as are those who punt on it. But the Japan World Cup model changes everything.
Who wouldn't be a slave to a noble beast like Ninja Sniper? Letting a horse of such sublime stealth go unbacked would require monk-like discipline. Over time the horse would likely send you to the poorhouse.
But if the layers are going to bet on the absurd, shouldn't they at least make it interesting, stretch suspense and create carnage, rather than fobbing off fools with poorly-animated, prosaic fare.
It’s just a wonder that the bookmaking fraternity haven’t latched on to the idea, particularly those happy chappies in Ireland’s biggest firm. You know, the one with the yellow and green branding, masters of the zany gimmick, almost so friendly that they wouldn't dream of doing anything as dastardly as taking your money. Well, almost.
The one virtue virtual racing does have if you happen to know nothing about the real version of the sport, is a mathematical one. If you note the prices for races involving the cartoon creatures and compare them with those involving real flesh-and-blood animals, you’ll notice that virtual markets often offer tighter percentages. You'll still go broke betting on them, but it’ll take you a little longer.
It’s easy to see why the bookmakers can afford to bet to tighter margins. As a randomly generated game, costs are minimal. Skill or knowledge can’t be deployed, so no honest edge can be attained. The possibility of skulduggery is negligible as virtual trainers aren't adept at the black arts. You won’t see a one-time Listed class horse stopped until he plummets in the weights to a point where a supposedly ‘shrewd’ gamble can be orchestrated.
Gambling on virtual racing will always obviously always be a mugs’ and/or addicts' game, but money doesn't have to be involved for the stakes to be high.Seek out a copy of Japan World Cup, get your mates around, organise an extreme version of truth or dare and sit back and enjoy a sensory overload.