When the weather is kind to us, Flemington is a joy.
And without the crowds (120 000+)that assemble for the ‘big races’ it has a charm that makes a day at the races a treat to be savoured.
Dressed in our finery, we drive through the gates like royalty, being waved through because we have all the ‘right’ stickers; a privilege bestowed upon members at this exclusive racing club. That Kate has a horse racing today is an added bonus.
We walk along the path marked with every Melbourne Cup winner and year beginning with the first race run here in 1861!!!!! This in itself was fascinating, and never possible on the big race days because there are so many people there. Today, though, we had the walk to ourselves and could read at our leisure, Makybe Diva (2003, 2004, 2005), Zulu (1881), Russia (1946). I wonder at horses’ names; like “Neville left me” – does the horse care I ask myself.
The roses are no longer out and still the grounds are beautiful, groomed and nurtured with such loving care, they could almost be horses.
Because these horses are treated like Royalty.
They are so loved and nurtured and cared for that I wonder if those who say this is a cruel sport have ever been to the stables, or been involved with horses in any way. Have they ever seen how the strappers, and jockeys and trainers and owners Know their animals. Every sign, quirk, like, dislike and know instantly if the horse is unwell or unhappy.
And we move into the members rooms : food, drink, elegant (and not so elegant) people, banks of TVs with races being televised from all over the country, Flemington is not enough, there is Randwick and Adelaide and Brisbane and Bendigo and and….
Heads down pouring over form books, so many seem to know exactly what they are doing.
Do I know what I am doing; of course not.
Does that spoil the day for me; of course not.
I people watch, and eavesdrop and love every minute of it.
And after they have poured over the form, they place their bets (or not, depending on what the form ‘tells’ them. And I watch them reap the rewards of this study. Sometimes handsome, sometimes lean. And then I discover that they chose their horses because today they were picking ‘French names’ or ‘colours’ or ‘countries’ and I suppose that too, is a ‘form’. With equal chance of success 🙂 🙂
Race 3: That’s ‘our race’ and now even I look at the form book and open my wallet. It is so exciting to go into the mounting yard, hear the trainer and jockey and owners talk strategy;
the track is a 2 (a 2? what’s that mean – good. Good But hard. There’s a But to Good? Apparently so)
stick to the inside;
swing out; hold back; let go.
Everyone listens intently nodding; me I listen, but of course I cannot nod – what do I know 🙂 🙂
It is so exciting to have a vested interest in the race – even if ‘by proxy’. But while Tavi Bay won at The Oaks, today is not her day.
We gather in the owners lounge, eat our sandwiches and drink our champagne as the race is rerun on the banks of TV, not once, twice, no about twenty times. And everyone watches it – again and again.
Are they hoping the result may change if they watch often enough; studying the form; seeking how they could have run it differently, or dreaming of what could have been? The post mortem continues; the track was too hard; it didn’t give everyone equal opportunity; why didn’t they water it; if we hand’t run last week….
The views are amazing, the skyline stunning, the staff courteous, the food good, the horses beautiful and the results always unpredictable.
Thank you Kate for the such a special Day at the Races.