Blog Article / / Writing: Journalism

A day at the races

This week has kept me a little on my toes… plenty of work to be going through, plus I’ve been hacking and coughing my way through most of it… cold’s gone now, but now my stomach’s mumbling and grumbling away. I really need to take better care of myself. Although, when you’re bouncing all over the country attending bizarre events, it’s not surprising if haven’t been eating properly.

Yesterday, I spent most of my day at the Cheltenham Races, and it certainly ranks highly in my bizarre index. As a friend put it: never have I seen so much tweed and Burberry worn un-ironically. The Cotswolds masses were certainly out, and I’m pretty sure I stood out like an eccentric sore thumb with my jacket-and-T-shirt combo. However, I was there with a nice mixture of friends and TV people, so I hope we all stood out as much as each other… Although I may have been the only person not wearing a tie.

As my first real experience of horse-racing, beyond a pub and a bookies with my producer about a year ago, I was pleasantly surprised. It really is fun, with all of the wheeling and dealing, hearing rumours from people and betting on this, that and t’other; all it takes is the acceptance that you have little to no control over the races. Sure, you can try and look and see if the horse’s coat is glossy (top tip!), if the jockey’s famous and/or successful, ask the trainer, etc, but in the end, I think luck prevails foremost. This is what makes it so fun to watch… I’ll have to be careful not to get too sucked in, I don’t want to spend too much until I really have a better idea of how it works! I reckon I might take the time…

Other peculiar things I noticed: many of the horse’s names have homosexual overtones (The Package? GAY DONALD?), some of the odds are so long that a £2, on a fluke, could win you £1000 (!!!), and that people take this exceptionally seriously. I got a quick glimpse of a very different world, a rich and serious world where tiny, infinitesimal details make the difference between huge money and huge loss, and enjoyed dipping in. Could I handle long term exposure? Heaven knows. For now, I’m happy to do my work, enjoy my life, take it all with a pinch of salt, and do my best not to become Nathan Barley. I don’t think I can really ask for more!


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