Saturday, April 9, 2011


The Grand National is the horserace for those not interested in horseracing (which would be me) and reviled by animal rights activists (it averages three fatalities a year). I think I've only ever watched one - the famous one in 1973 when Red Rum pipped Crisp to the post. (I only realised Red Rum was Murder backwards after The Shining). So, I hear Ballabriggs won the 164th National, trained by the same family who trained Red Rum.

Here are my half-dozen horse-racing moments:

  • Goodwood: 5 miles from my home in Chichester, so I probably went more than once, watched from The Trundle, a conveniently adjacent hillock which allowed you (and hundreds of others) a specular and free view

  • Hereford: camped on the racecourse in August 1977 and remember waking up to hear that Elvis had died

  • Epsom: don't remember much about the horses but A took part in a children's sprint in front of the grandstand, although she pulled up at the finishing line, terrified of a bloke dressed up in a horse's outfit waving a chequered flag

  • Tokyo: where a bunch of us attended the Ambassador's Cup, placed bets in Japanese and we got to stroll around in the Paddock afterwards

  • Kemptown: I used to live by this racecourse (in Brighton, not Camptown racetrack five miles long which is in Pennsylvania) but never went

  • Walthamstow: I once went to the dog-races here; does that count?

Horseracing was big in China - well, Shanghai - in the early part of the 20th century but was banned after 1949. It was recently legalised but there's not much going on, mainly because gambling - which for some reason is synonymous with the gee-gees - remains illegal, at least on the mainland. However, that could change. There was a 'meet' in Wuhan recently and I read somewhere that a Dubai consortium is building a massive racecourse in Tianjin.

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