Paraskevidekatriaphobia is the fear of Friday the 13th. Or friggatriskaidekaphobia if you’re from northern Europe.
It seems crazy in these times of scientific certitude that there are so many people who are paraskevidekatriaphobics. They, of course, will point to any number of anecdotes to demonstrate Friday the 13th is very unlucky – such as the stock market crash of 1989 or a study in the UK that showed the number of hospital admissions often spiking on that spooky date.
The paranoia is of course linked to superstition about the number 13, with 13 apostles at the last supper, a 13th Norse god bringing darkness to the earth, the Apollo 13 spacecraft disaster and so on. The Apollo incident even persuaded the hard-headed physicists of Nasa to change their numbering system for the space shuttle programme to avoid a No 13 spacecraft – though the one that would have been 13 landed – safely – on a Friday the 13th.
But this is largely a western phobia. In China, number 13 and Friday the 13th are considered lucky – as is the number 8. There, it’s 4 that is to be feared. Places in South America have the heebies for 17, while 39 has a bad rap elsewhere.
Horse racing people are notoriously superstitious, with many a 13 jinx to be related. To offset things like a pervasive 13, strict rituals must be followed. Top-level trainers and jockeys have confessed to me many strange clothing rules: red socks, torn underwear, wildly out-of-fashion hat – all these things have brought winners and big bucks. You’d better believe it.
So, on Friday 13 May a few punters will be nervous. The venue is Fairview in PE and there a Pick 6 carryover that promises to boost the pool to a juicy R2-million. What’s a superstitious phobic to do?
Don’t walk under ladders, steer clear of black cats, don’t wear the cursed colour green, cross your fingers and take the fateful plunge.
Just make sure you don’t leave out of betting calculations the Western Cape raiders in the feature race, the venerable East Cape Derby.
Eastern Cape trainers are renowned for their skill with stamina horses, but the visitors – Glen Kotzen, Justin Snaith, Candice Bass-Robinson and Andre Nel – appear to have the upper hand.
Kotzen’s Chollima is widely fancied, but has only chalked up one win in 14 goes. Snaith’s Top Quality and Nel’s Futurismo appear to have more a bit more scope.
Few of the three-year-olds have yet tackle a 2400m, so it’s a tricky one. Perhaps the answer is No 13: Kum Naidoo-trained War Man. He even has a topical name – if you believe the world revolves around Europe.
On Saturday, the KwaZulu-Natal winter season gets into stride with the running of the WSB 1900. There’s no No 13 in that race, thankfully.
Friday, Fairview, Race 7:
7 Futurismo, 5 Over Two You, 6 Top Quality, 13 War Man
Saturday, Greyville, Race 7:
6 Do It Again, 4 Litigation, 9 Gentleman’s Wager, 3 Tristful