Posts Tagged ‘horse racing’

Horse Racing at Bangkok, Saturday 16th December 2017

January 18, 2018

We’ve been to Bangkok for the weekend a few times but as the horse racing usually takes place on a Sunday afternoon we’ve not had the opportunity to attend. I’d noticed a rare Saturday fixture at the Royal Bangkok Sports Club though and so we thought we’d pop along.

Our hotel was right next to the track. It was also handy for Lumphini Park and we spent the morning wandering around watching water monitors fight each other over a carp that one of them must have caught in the lake. We also saw one monitor digging up and scoffing some eggs, probably buried by a turtle.

The highlight of the wandering about though came outside of the park when we stumbled upon a cock fight at the end of a quiet alley. I got the impression that we weren’t particularly welcome and so we didn’t hang about but Jen managed to snap a couple of photos before we left them to it.

As with the recent trip to Ipoh, we got lucky with our hotel room overlooking the race track. So much so that we pulled a couple of chairs up to the window and watched the opening two races of the ten race card from there.

Good as the hotel room was, it didn’t have a tote counter and our view didn’t extend as far around the track as the starting stalls. It took us twenty minutes or so to walk to the track entrance. We were directed away from the posh bit, possibly due to membership requirements but more likely for scruffiness.

The 100 Baht section had no such qualms about letting us in and the stand overlooked the parade ring at one side and the winning post at the other. There was a 50 Baht gate a little further along which got you into a grandstand beyond the finishing line. Both areas seemed quite busy.

Our stand had a roof but wasn’t enclosed and so we didn’t benefit from air-conditioning. It was breezy though and with steady supply of chilled cans of Singha for just over a quid a pop I managed to avoid over-heating.

There were no seats in the stand either, just concrete terracing. That was ok too and we took up a position on the back row. Every now and then we’d have a tray of street-type food from one of the stalls that were lining the concourse area.

One of the odd things about the racing was that the horses would head around to the starting stalls a good twenty minutes before the scheduled start time of their race. They would then be loaded up and left to stand for at least a quarter of an hour. I couldn’t really see why they would do this as it seemed a long time to be cooped up.

For a change, we limited our betting to the live racing and that gave us plenty of time to ponder our selections. It was time that we didn’t really need as we followed our usual selection process of backing the horse with the best name. The system, once again, was spectacularly unsuccessful. There was a horse called Brian in one race and our early two quid bet briefly had him favourite on the tote. Once the more knowledgeable punters had placed their wagers he drifted to around 800/1.

I’m pleased to report that despite the lack of confidence from the market Brian managed to outperform expectations by finishing second to last. Hopefully that might delay his day out at the glue factory. After a day with no returns whatsoever we retired to the nearby St Regis where we were the only customers in a sealed off whisky and cigar bar. I was even able to turn their plinkety-plonk music off when no-one was looking. Perfect ending really.

 

Horse Racing at Singapore, Sunday 13th March 2016

June 30, 2016

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One of the best things about my current job is that I get every fifth week off. That means that Jen and I can pick somewhere to visit and clear off for a holiday.

As it takes around four hours flying to get from Darwin to most of the places worth visiting in Australia, I had a look at the options to the north and for this trip we headed off to Singapore.

I’d read mixed reviews of the place, most of them mentioning that it was a bit dull. Sterile was a description that seemed to crop up. These people have obviously never been to somewhere like Billingham.

We stayed in Chinatown in an old hotel that tried to give the impression that its décor was based on a brothel. A sumptuous establishment from a century ago, that is, full of red velvet curtains, rather than the back room of a modern-day massage place with plastic covered mattresses and trafficked Chinese farm girls. I doubt the latter would go down well on Tripadvisor.

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We landed early in the morning and after dropping off our bags took an MRT train to the north of the island and the Kranji racecourse. It was six dollars to get in to the general admission area, which is about three quid. That got us everywhere apart from the Gold Room, which requires a collared shirt and so ruled me out on sartorial grounds.

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It was busy inside, with most of the punters choosing to watch the races on the televisions rather than through the windows of the grandstand or from out in the open air. It was amusing to watch people shouting home their horses on the televised races from Hong Kong and Australia that filled the gaps between live action, although I suppose that’s no different from me exclaiming “FFS” and yelling my disagreement with something someone has said on the news.

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I started off by trying to do things properly and bought a form guide, before watching the horses make their circuits of the parade ring. I may as well not have bothered though as I’ve no real idea what I should be looking for as they walked around. None of them had an obvious limp, which would probably have been sufficient for me to rule them out, but apart from that none of them looked as if they were any faster than the others.

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My selection process changed when I spotted that Alan Munro was riding. Maybe some of you remember him, he was the young lad who rode Generous to victory in the Derby back in the days when Colin Todd was in charge at the Boro and ‘ooh’ Andy Dibble was in his initial clean sheet spell on loan rather than the less successful return some years later. Does that seem a long time ago? It does to me. That’s because it was.

Anyway, on the basis that I couldn’t be arsed to read my form guide, I decided that life would be simpler if I just backed whatever horse Mr. Munro was riding. I realise he’s knocking on a bit but he must still be agile enough to ride horses or else he’d be doing something else by now. I’m sure Lester Piggott rode until he was about sixty and I doubt Alan Munro’s quite that old.

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The racing was a mix of grass and polytrack. I watched some from outside and others from high up in the grandstand where I could benefit from the air-conditioning and take advantage of the food court. It was all cheap enough, with spring rolls for a dollar a go and coffee and coke not much more. There wasn’t any beer for sale, which seems strange for a race meeting.

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We made a rare profit on the day, or at least on the six races that we stayed for, with Munro winning one and then coming in third on a sixty to one shot. As we made our way out, there were still people coming in.  Perhaps they had just got out of church.