Monday, July 22, 2013

Baby and Bucket List

 Right now, the serious wagering in the U.K. is all about whether the forthcoming Royal infant is sporting a braciole or a feminine accoutrement and depending on which...then what the name shall be.
 But in June the Royals and their subjects flock to Ascot for the races. Indeed, this year the Queen won the Gold Cup when a horse she owned,ridden by Ryan Moore, took the wire. This was the first time in 207 years that a reigning Monarch won the race.
 Horse racing in the U.S.A. seems to only really capture the attention of the public during the Triple Crown months and then really only during the Kentucky Derby when every cul-de-sac in the flyover states hosts a sorry ass version of a Derby party. Real U.S. enthusiasts pay attention to the Traver's in August at Saratoga and the Haskell at Monmouth and the Breeder's Cup in the Fall.
 However, in Britain ,according to a study cited by the New York Times, horse racing is the second most popular sport behind Football(soccer.) U.S. racing used to enjoy a similar status in the late 50's and horses such as Sea Biscuit captured the Nation's attention years before that. Most recently Secretariat was a superstar...but that was 40 years ago. Casino gambling and other factors have led to a sharp decline in track attendance and interest.
The dress code at Ascot is taken seriously. Attending the Races and wearing a cut-away and top hat in the Royal enclosure and betting on these races is on my "bucket list" and I do have some connections which may get me into the coveted venue. Whether I ever make it there or not , it is encouraging to see the Royals put their considerable might and pocket book behind racing. It is refreshing to see the sport being supported by Brits on such a wide scale.


Pigtown*Design said...

When i lived in the UK, i marveled at the ability of people to talk about horses that were their favourites, and they followed them for years. Because our horses only race for one year (mostly as 3-year olds) we never have a chance to become attached to them.

The steeplechase horses can race until their teens, and people follow them from year to year and come to love them.

You would never have the same horses run in the triple crown races for several years, yet in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, the Grand National and other races, you will see horses for several year. Best Mate won three in a row. Kauto Star won in 2007 and 2009, and raced in between, until this year.

I have a friend in London who usually goes to Ascot, and while he's 6'8" in real life, the top hat adds another 4-5 inches, making him tower over everyone there. Hence, he gets great pix!

Main Line Sportsman said...

The chance to see horses run over several years is one of the reasons I love steeplechase racing. Navy Pilot, Mr. Prospector,Bon Caddo...all recent favs.

RulingPart said...

"Bottle of Smoke" by The Pogues...

Great post! I had no idea it is so popular over there.