Preserving memories

Its fair to say that since leaving work in the betting industry, that my interest in horse racing has dropped off pretty considerably. So much so, that this year, I even wondered if I was going to bother to bet in the Grand National, the biggest betting race of the year. History shows that I did, and did the right thing, as one of my 3 horses was placed, and I made a profit on the race. Even so, next years event will be my next bet…maybe?

In truth, the only racing I go out of the way to watch now are the very big festivals, or the quirky races. Hey, I didnt even really care that I missed 1 day of the Cheltenham Festival this year, because of the trip back to the flapper era in Blackpool!

So what do I mean by quirky racing, I hear you ask? Well, probably the most obvious is the race meeting on the beach, at Laytown, in Ireland. Yes, they literally set up a mile long straight on the beach nowadays, once a year, and race there. There did used to be a longer, circular course, but due to the iniquities of the tide, and Health and Safety regulations, no more.

The other quirkiness is what they call cross country racing. Instead of standard hurdles, and fences, you get grass banks that they run up, and either run down again, or jump off, according to taste, and the like. Cheltenham doesnt have any really weird fences on their course, but Punchestown actually has a stone wall they have to jump on the course, albeit a very low one!

Thankfully, the biggest, and best cross country race of the year, at Punchestown, was run today, on my day off. I’ve had the delight of seeing it live numerous times in the past, and managed to catch it a few more times on TV, now that racing has its own channels on this modernity known as cable TV. Irish racing, up to this year at least, has been on a channel that you dont have to pay any extra subscription to watch. Sadly, in the world of racing politics, this is the last year it will be there, as next year, Irish racing is changing channels to a subscription one, and I certainly wont be paying that for 2 days racing a year!

So yes, today I said goodbye to an old friend, as lets face it, I’m not likely to get to the festival again now, given my much lessened interest, and the amount of money it would take to get there! There will be another race there, later this year, but its only over part of the course, and given its on a Saturday, I’ll be at work, so will miss it. Laytown races, yes, one last time, in September, as its on a Thursday, the week before my holiday, I should see it then. I’ve always said I wanted to go there, but I’m beginning to realize its probably not now going to happen, shame! But given where it is, and the state of my back, I suspect not.

Video time, a real oldie! I dont fancy my chances of sitting on a park bench at 70, unless I’ve moved somewhere a lot hotter than here!

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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…

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.