Henry’s Jackpot For Life!

A tattoo tale - content may offend sensitive readers...

They say that promises and pie crust are made to be broken.

But a passionate horseracing man visiting his former homeland from Australia at Saturday’s Hollywoodbets Durban July told a story of how he won a big jackpot and ended up keeping his word, with the winning numbers tattooed on his rear end.

At the age of 67, the ebullient Kevin ‘Henry’ Kroeger has walked a long road from his Alexandra High School days in Pietermaritzburg.

A student at the University of Pietermaritzburg, his first job was as a penciller for a bookmaker in an age before computers.

He was also a ‘passionate and dedicated’ barman in the owners and trainers area at Hollywoodbets Scottsville.

Kevin ‘Henry’ Kroeger – having fun and loving the game

With that illustrious grounding, Kevin was probably ready for a career in horseracing, but sense prevailed and he ended up with a, let’s call it, textbook career – that is, the far more mundane pursuit of educational publishing.

Kevin told the Sporting Post that he emigrated Down Under some 22 years ago and is now resident in Perth.

He owns shares in a few racehorses, but the origin of his cheeky tattoo goes back three years to the Kalgoorlie-Boulder Race Round, described independently as Australia’s biggest party.

The blurb for one of ‘the biggest, most colourful and successful racing carnivals to be staged anywhere in Australia’ tells that it is steeped in history, been the scene of some of the most incredible events both on and off the track,  and for many it has etched memories which have lasted a lifetime.

Kevin ‘Henry’ Kroeger took that literally and that’s where the trouble started.

Kalgoorlie – scene of the tale of the tattoo

He and four mates were running into the last leg of the Jackpot – they call it a ‘Quaddie’. He takes up the story.

“We were a bit inked up and enjoying the day, as one tends to do at Kalgoorlie. We had five horses in the last leg and the 6 horse was a 33 -1 shot called Stop The Friar. He was clearly our best result but to all intents and purposes, something of a no-hoper. I said if that wins, I will have the winning Jackpot numbers tattooed on my behind. The guys, excited about a big but unlikely win, all agreed to join the pledge. Guess what? Stop The Friar stormed up the outside and got up to grab the honours on the line. We won A$30 000! The guys were ecstatic and we partied until fairly late.”

Kevin promptly went off to get his first tattoo at the age of 64, and the puzzled artist, probably used to spending days sketching intricate images of spiders, flowers, and Marilyn Manson and Guns ‘n Roses regalia for dedicated fans, seemed bemused when he was briefed to imprint the winning Kalgoorlie Jackpot ‘9-1-2-6’ on the old man’s left cheek.

The dream jackpot!

“The other guys were all younger than me and I felt I had to show them the old school values that we were taught and live up to my promise. Sadly, the rest of the winning syndicate are yet to have their tattoos done. I didn’t tell my wife about my new stamp of honour, and when she saw it three weeks later, she rolled her eyes and muttered worlds like ‘childish, unbelievable etc’. We have been married a long time, and she has since seen the funny side of it!”

Asked where the alias ‘Henry’ comes from, he says it was a silly name that was given to him years ago when friends introduced him to people at a racecourse.

“I have always been comfortable with my baptised name Kevin – but my mates thought ‘Henry’ was very funny. It has become my racecourse name. It will probably be inscribed on my gravestone one day!”

Kevin says that they thoroughly enjoyed the Hollywoodbets Durban July day and shaking hands with the big race winning rider Kabelo Matsunyane was a moment that he’d cherish forever.

A fantastic day! (Pic – Candiese Lenferna)

“Thanks to Owen Heffer and his team. They know how to deliver world-class hospitality and we were royally hosted. We are spending a few weeks here and doing the touristy things like game reserves and the like. South Africa is still a beautiful country and your racing vibe in KZN is unbelievable!” he added.

And we suggested that the strength of the Aussie dollar must make it a cheap holiday?

“The food and drink is cheap, cheap, cheap for us. Can you imagine what we are going to look like when we get back home?”

We had to ask Kevin, or Henry, as a parting shot what would happen if he won a big Pick 6 in the future?

“I’m getting older you know. I’d have to really think about where I’d want those six numbers tattooed!”

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