Day at the Races.
Its as old as our friendship. Edward and I going to the races at Christmas. This week as so often in recent years it was Plumpton near Lewes just under the glorious South Downs.
It starts at Clapham Junction.platform 13, where you get on the Eastbourne train with the spivs, bookies, hung over Harries and totaliser Toms. We start talking to one. He tells us that there is nothing worth betting on , and he is just there to watch the racing poor though it is. However he felt jockey Sam Twistson Davies was possibly worth a look. Earlier in the day the BBC had tipped one of his rides, Leith Hill Legasy.
Grey and wet, the going good to heavy, as the afternoon progressed the Downs would gradually disappear with the weakening light. To get into the mood we go to the ring to look at the horses parading. We have no idea, a tweedy type tells us that the favourite in “this type of race is a no-no”. We look elsewhere, we start to fancy the stable maids, we are both in our late sixties, how sad is this?
First race, George and Vivien’s favourite number seven is slightly fancied. It went well for a circuit and half and then faded. Despite the tweedy advice the favourite romped home.
We had a table and were tucking into our Christmas Special lunch. Our waitress Edna gave us a smile and we gave her the nod. We missed the second race a three horse affair with an odds on favourite which went with the betting.
The third went down and now I was in something of a hole. Our favoured jockey was in the fourth I doubled my bet. He stayed at the back , timed his run but just didn’t quite make it. But excitement or not, losing is losing and now I was in a bigger hole.
The fifth race saw our boy on the BBC’s fancy. In for a penny ,in for an even bigger bet. This time over three miles of muddy hurdles Sam stayed in the front and whenever challenged kicked on until after the last fence he was alone and triumphant. A moment of pure joy. And my day was saved.
The restaurant tried to charge us for an extra bottle of wine but we are not that old and then it was on the train going home. There we fell in with fat Tommy , with tweed cap,from Belfast. Amazingly he has just flown over to see the course and he was on his way back to Gatwick, another box ticked. This ex Harland and Woolf man and now owner of a welding shop collected English race courses. I collect swimming pools and piers but Tommy’s karma is race tracks! Aint life grand!