They’re on the beach!

No, not me, though I suppose its possible I might get there in a weeks time, while on Cape Cod. Mind, assuming it arrives in time (and my faith in the company concerned is limited to say the least), I do have a cute swimsuit, with skirt arriving, though I’m planning on it being more for sunning purposes, than swimming purposes, outdoors at least. I suspect working my body in water would do my body good, so maybe after I get back, if I can find the time…?

Now, if you’ve been following this blog for more than 4 years, you’ll know what I’m talking about tonight, but as I suspect thats a small number, lets roll with it. Nearly all horse racing takes place either on turf, or on a variety of all weather surfaces at various race tracks throughout the world. There is even supposedly a race meeting on snow in Switzerland, but dont quote me on that.

But once a year, in Ireland, they take an everyday beach, and turn it into a race track! Yes, its that memorable day when Laytown races took place. Nowadays its 6 races, over a straight track, with a maximum distance of 7 furlongs (7/8 mile), with a maximum of 10 runners per race, but it used to be more. A round track, to run longer distance races, which went closer to the sea used to be used, until safety issues cropped up, and sadly fatal injuries to horses, so now its just the latter, probably for the best. There may even be other beach race meetings in the world for all I know, but this is the only 1 I know about.

I’m still saying that I want to go there one day, but here I am, at 59, still not done. But hopefully, some time, I will! Part of the snag being that its held early in September, and tends to be just before that holiday of mine, so fitting it in, just doesnt work. But yes, I was fortunate enough to see it on TV tonight, as good as its got so far!

I just wonder how similar the surfaces used for all weather/dirt racing are to racing on a beach, no idea? Well, except that only the beach has water creeping closer to the race track as the evening goes on!

The video? Well, I suspect most of my readers have never heard of Kirsty MacColl, and even if you have, this wasnt one of her bigger hits, so…

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Another one bites the dust

Yes, despite the headline, this is a horse racing story, but it is US racing.

To be honest, the only strict connection between racing, as I know it in this country, and in the US, is that involves horses. Over here, the longest continuous spell of racing at any one track, is 5 days. In Ireland, I think Galway is actually 6 days, or was at one point, but thats it. In the US, tracks race pretty much non stop for months on end!

Fine, thats on dirt (as the US calls it), or all weather surfaces (as we Brits call it), so I guess the tracks can stand it? Also, over here, horses are trained all over the country, whereas in the US, as much as I can gather, most of the horses are stabled at the race tracks? Due to the amount of times they seemingly run, many horses in the US run on various ‘supplements’ to enable them to survive their regular running rate.

Most of the US racing we see over here is pretty low grade stuff, to be honest. I’m not saying that some of ours (especially our all weather stuff) isnt pretty awful stuff too, but anyway…

But seemingly, in the US somewhere, they must have better grade racing, we just dont use it for betting fodder!

One thing both do have in common, is something called the triple crown. In the US, its the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness stakes, and the Belmont Stakes. No horse has achieved the Triple Crown since 1978, and its not hard to see why. Again, this year, California Chrome won the first two, then came up short in the Belmont. It is the race that seems to catch them out, its longer than the other two, and presumably the stamina issues show up? Not helped by the fact that all 3 races are within a 2 month span!

The triple crown over here, hasnt been won since 1970, but that is as much that horses, even if they win the first 2 legs, have more important targets than the third leg in September. Also, our first race is over a mile, the second over a mile and a half, and the last, an extended mile and three quarters! So, finding a horse who is fast enough to win over a mile, and have the stamina to win over a mile and three quarters… Also, as I say, in the old days, these sort of horses had little other challenges to go for. Nowadays, with major races worldwide, at their feet, why risk it?

So in all honesty, I wouldnt be surprised, if Nijinsky, in 1970 doesnt become the last to do it.

Oh, and fine, I’m trying to ignore it, but it wont go away, the football/soccer World Cup starts on Thursday. Much though I’d like to avoid it, with my job, its hard to do. With luck, it wont get mentioned again. Thankfully I miss the build up to the first of England’s matches on Saturday, I’m off to the Postmodern Jukebox concert in Manchester. The other two matches, hmm…

The video, for California Chrome, and all those who tried before him, a touch of Queen

Horse racing, but not as most know it.

Yes, for most people, when they go to the races, they think of decent facilities, bookmakers (in this country at least), and generally racing on turf. Alright, even over here nowadays we have racing on artificial surfaces, generally described as all weather racing (though believe me, it isnt in winter!), but in Ireland, once a year, they have something different, they race on the beach at Laytown!

Yes, you could say its the track with the best watering system in the world, a natural one, controlled by the tides!

Nowadays, they only have short races (up to about a mile) on a straight track, laid out on the beach, after the morning high tide. It didnt used to be the case, there used to be longer races, ran on a circular track, that took events much closer to the sea. Snag was, the sand wasnt always as solid out there, and a number of years back, for safety reasons, they changed it to the current form.

Indeed, on one occasion, many years ago, a horse got loose at the start of one of these longer events, and he went off for a swim in the sea, having discarded his jockey! Yes, I would love to go sometime, but given its generally early September, and I tend to go to the US in mid September, well, its a bit of a challenge! But hopefully one day, while I still can, I will get there.

Whats that, you want to see what its like? How could I ever let you down?

A race from today in fact.

A day at the races

No, no Marx Brothers here, so if thats what you’re looking for, go elsewhere lol! But given my love of vintage stuff, it just seemed an apt title.

For the next 4 days, its the big August race meeting at York. Thankfully, if things work out right, I should miss most of the fuss and finery involved, as 3 of the days I’m starting at 9, and the other day I’m off. Thankfully thats early enough to avoid the race going crowds, as the trains will be busy enough without them. Tomorrow night, I’ll be through Leeds before they get back there, as I finish work about 5 minutes after the start of the last race, and they are 25 minutes or so earlier down the line than us. Friday and Saturday, should I miss the stopper train, I will see some staggering back mid evening. Probably delay the train (and TPE dont need much excuse for that anyway), and I could do without that in all honesty, especially Friday, as I will have to be up early again for Saturday.

So alright, its fun to see some of the dresses and stuff (and the silly hats) that they wear, and probably would be fun to wear myself, but post racing, many are very drunk, and a sight I’d prefer not to see!

I know going to the races can be expensive over here, but even so, I was amazed to hear the cost of a days racing in the main stand at York each day, £54! ($80 ish?) Wow! And thats not the most expensive option, that was £123 ($180 ish?), and was sold out! Sorry, I thought there was a recession on, or something, or maybe thats just for ordinary folk? The last meeting I went to, a few years back, Philadelphia Park, they welcomed you in for free! Much lower grade racing, but even so…

So, no I wont be going to York races this week, unless someone offers to take me Thursday, and I dont expect that to happen! Me, Thursday, plan is off to Wakefield, afternoon out, collect my dollars for next month, and maybe some shopping? Much cheaper, and for me at least, more fun!

The video, a lovely song, and maybe a moral for those throwing £123 a person at York races this week. If people stayed away due to the ridiculous prices, they might learn sometime, but…