Every year Jarnac gets a set of three weekends with regional horse racing. The track is visible when you walk on our`side of the river, right behind BRAASTAD Cognac company. While it sits empty for most of the year with no other events, the city starts watering and grooming the area by mid summer to get it up to snuff for September.
Trotters first weekend, thoroughbred the next two. Today though, it was a mix of hurdles and straight course racing. Interesting. Never seen this before.
We missed the events last year but I took Isabella today and we all will go next weekend for the final races again. It`s not a Happy Valley Hong Kong size of a set up, but more of a country course with smaller purses, a temporary grand stand and lesser known jockeys. And VERY rustic toilets.
While I think everybody who enjoys horse racing has to visit Hong Kong once just for the experience, this kind of country set up is equally excited for the simple reason that you get the opportunity to be very very close up to it all.
Weigh in? I could have tipped the scale, that's how close we stood to the jockey. Winner's circle? Touch the horse if you want. Interview with the winning jockey? Get an autograph while you are at it. And no hats! Just fun.
So it was Isabella's first time to an event where you can actually bet on the action. Despite her being born and raised in Las Vegas. Good father you all thinking now, kept her away for thirteen years.
Me on the other hand, I have somewhat of a history. During a couple of years working in Munich I chose to spend my Sundays at the track over skiing in the Alps or swimming at the lake. Fond memories, if not for winning (never did) but for the great food served and the characters you get to meet. You know, the regulars, the ones who will tell you which race is fixed, which Bookie is in a bind, their "winnings" and other grand tales of horse racing. Fun times.
After explaining the basics on how to read a racing magazine (the tables are set up the same in most languages it seems), Isabella chose to go with colors and gut feeling instead. "It's not her money" was the impression I gathered from her choices. Purple over blue? No beginner's luck for her today.
I really hoped to find a bookie for our bets over the official punting station, that would have been a great experience for Isabella. A one man bet shop. But no such man around.
For the next race I read her the stats, discussed the horse's edginess before the race and tried to tell her that 4 kg extra weight over 3200 meters does make a difference, even to a horse.
We won. Or in all honesty, we broke even on that race. Number 2 came through without being the favorite and the odds were strong enough to make up for all money spent.
For the third round of betting though, I went a bit overboard with combinations and selections. My budget was bust midway through the remaining races (gambling budgets are an important lesson to teach your kid) and we stayed a while longer to just enjoy the people and all the surrounding action before heading home for dinner. On the way out we walked trough the area with all the horse trailers and watched the owners cooling out their horses and clean them up for next weekend.
Isabella cannot wait for next Sunday.
ONE MORE SET OF RACES NEXT WEEK
LINE UP TO GET IN
THE TRACK IS RIGHT BEHIND BRAASTAD
ALONG THE RIVER
A REAL NICE SETTING
SOME GOOD LOOKING HORSES
SMALL TRAILERS, BUT BIG ENOUGH TO FIT A DOG (BOTTOM RIGHT)
AT THE WEIGH IN
WHERE'S MY HORSE?
HE WON ONE (AND US WITH HIM)
INTERVIEWING THE WINNER
JARNAC IN THE BACK
EHM, WHAT? STEEPLES?
BEST SEATS AT THE RAIL
THE OFFICIALS AND COMMENTATOR
PUNTERS PLACING THEIR BETS
A NO WIN TICKET
A NO WIN FACE
I REALLY LIKED THE NUMBER 2 IN THIS RACE
ALL SMILES WITH A WINNING TICKET (BROKE EVEN....)
LES TOILETTES - TRÉS RUSTIQUE.....
FACE PAINTING FOR KIDS
VERY VERY CLOSE TO THE ACTION
WHEN IN FRANCE, EAT CREPES