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17 July 2012

Lets Go Racing

As a little girl I fell in love with horses and all things equestrian.  This of course meant I had riding lessons, subscribed to pony magazines, devoured pony books - imagining myself to be the heroine of the story having the adventures and harboured dreams of competing at the Olympics in the show jumping or some such event and, of course, winning gold in the process.  I longed for a pony of my own too though I knew realistically that was never going to happen no matter how much I hoped and hoped it would.

All of this interest and dreaming also I meant I enjoyed watching show jumping (always my favourite) whenever it was on TV.  This included convincing my Mum to let me stay up far later than I was ever normally allowed to, just to watch the highlights of the day's competition, which was always on TV late in the evening.  I may never have got a pony of my own but I was lucky enough to be taken to see various horse shows, watch my heroes in action and get their autographs and soak up the atmosphere as much as I could as a spectator.

When I entered my early teens I discovered horse racing and fell in love as well with the thrills and excitement this provided.  One thing I'd never done though was get to go to a race meeting, always having to make do with watching it on TV.  I'd come close several times but fate always intervened and prevented me from going.  For my sixteenth birthday my parents had taken me to the National Stud in Newmarket (the home, in the UK, of Thoroughbred breeding) which I was on cloud nine about but I still wanted to experience a race meeting for myself someday.  So when my husband recently got an invitation to one of the Friday night race meetings at Kranji he did not need to stop and ask me if wanted to go too. 

View of the racing from the Corporate Box

Jockeys and horses in the parade ring

Having not been to any other race meetings I can't make any direct comparisons for atmosphere, fun, entertainment and so on.  We were lucky enough to able to spend our evening in one of the corporate boxes and so had an excellent view of the whole course.  As well as easy access for placing bets and getting food, drinks etc.  As fun though as having access to the box was I also felt we were a little removed from all the action in terms of soaking up some of the atmosphere of the night.  So when I had the chance to go and see the horses in the parade ring I jumped at it.  Down there was where the majority of race goers were enjoying themselves and this also gave me the chance to see the horses and jockeys at close quarters.  After watching all the build up I then watched that particular race from down near the parade ring as well.  Although obviously you don't have a view of the whole course and have to watch some of it on the huge TV screens overlooking the course, hearing the thunder of horses hooves as they galloped to the winning post and the roar of the crowd really made me feel part of the night and the racing.

We played it safe with setting a limit on how much we were prepared to bet per race, we were really just out to have a fun evening.  We also placed, what in the UK at least (not sure if they are called the same in Singapore) are known as 'each-way' bets.  So we stood a greater chance of getting a bit of money back even if the horse was only placed rather than betting on the horse only to win.  Of course you don't get so much back in return if you do get a result, but as I said we were just out to have an enjoyable evening at the races.

I am so pleased my first opportunity to go racing came in Singapore, who knows perhaps someday I'll get back to Hong Kong and have the chance to enjoy some racing at Happy Valley.  Hopefully too I'll also get to go racing one day back in the UK where my love of the sport was first born.  Then I'll be able to compare a warm, humid night's racing with the inevitable cold weather out on a UK race course.

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