Oh to be at Cheltenham, now that the Festival’s there. I’ve never actually been, and people I know who have say that you can’t see anything, but it would be worth it for the atmosphere. The same with Aintree on Grand National Day. I adore going to the races; I love seeing the horses, the people, the hats, and the sound of galloping hooves approaching the winning post is one of the best noises in the world.
I have booked the day off so I can watch the Gold Cup on Friday. I will consult the bible, but since the sad demise of Best Mate, I have been no good at picking the winner so don’t ask for any tips. I’m a bit better at parting the bookies from their money on Grand National Day.
I think Elizabeth Taylor galloping about on The Pie in the schmaltzy Hollywood-ised version of National Velvet must have started it for me (read the book by Enid Bagnold – it’s much darker: suicides, children who throw up a lot…). The golden age of Red Rum fed it, and it gathered pace with The Champions, then more recently Seabiscuit, plus the liberal doses of Dick Francis I still frequently prescribe myself.
As a child, it was my ambition to win the Grand National. I figured if Liz could do it, why couldn’t I? Nowadays, my sights are set a bit lower – I’d love to ride in a point-to-point. I just need someone to lend me the horse.
I sometimes suspect that my grey mare has her fantasies too. After all, she lives with four horses who raced under rules, plus her significant other was a point-to-pointer. I bet they tell her tall tales. When we’re galloping along the beach, I wonder if she has the same dreams as me …