Friday, April 08, 2005

The Greatest Horse Race In The World

 Posted by Hello

Despite the temptations of the ex-pat lifestyle, its very rare for me to become misty eyed and nationalistic about anything other than soccer. However one thing I do feel that the Brits do better than the Americans is horse racing, specifically by having the horses jump over things. The apogee of jumping-over-things-racing, or National Hunt racing as it is more eloquently known, is the annual Grand National. The Grand National is held at Aintree racecourse in Liverpool and is a marathon 4 miles and 4 furlongs 30 jump test of horse and rider like no other.

Filed with pageantry, anxious family members clutching betting slips, needlessly complicated form guides, stirring coverage on the BBC (complete with heroic movie music a la "Chariots of Fire"), and that special spring green that doesn't exist outside of the British Isles, Grand National Day was always one of my favorite simple pleasures on the English calendar. Sadly, with the lack of legal betting opportunities here in the States interest in horse racing is minimal and even the greatest meetings in the USA seem to lack something by being held on the flat on tracks that seem more reminiscent of the Dubai World Cup than the slightly shabby, decidedly seedy, highly worldly, very enjoyable National Hunt circuit. For the 10th year in a row, I won't get to see the race.

There will be forty runners this year: pick your horse using the tried and tested "Oooh I like the jockey's colours" method here: The Grand National. Although also the choice of the BBC's top racing tipster, I'm going for Forest Gunner because my paternal grandfather was an artilleryman from the edge of Epping Forest in East London (see how this works?). My second, outsider, no-hope, I'll put a quid on it for a laugh horse is the 100-1 shot Europa, because the jockey will be wearing yellow and green, the same as Norwich City FC.

Giddyup.

8 comments:

jamie said...

if my Villa fandom had really taken hold yet (my allegiance is still a bit up in the air), it would hard to look past 500-1 longshot Astonville. as it is, i'm going for an exacta of Iznogoud at 66-1 for my love of self-deprecation, and Arctic Copper at 100-1 for the blue/green color scheme and Irish provenance.

jamie said...
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weasel said...

I see your strategy- you are holding out for the rest of the field to fall over so that your pair of lagging nags can stumble across the line as the only two runners remaining. Its happened before (a former milk cart horse won in the fifties).
I see I could also have a short odds shot on Hedgehunter (8-1) based on my football club theory.

weasel said...

Further to my above comment, here is the true story of Foinavon, the 100-1 shot that won in 1967. I knew there was some truth in all this...

Mondale said...

You're bloody right Weasel. I used to call my dad on 'National' day (he knows his stuff about the gee gees)for a tip. He always used to throw his head up in despair "Unbelievers!" he felt like a Vicar at Christmas when National day came around. All of a sudden everyone's a horse racing expert.
Having said all that Beth fancies 'Royal Auclair' because it's got nice springtime colors and I fancy Hedgehunter because it matches Norwich (with the colors ) and Bristol Rovers (with the design). As you said, thats how it works!

Mondale said...

We also used to visit Fakenham races at Easter. A muddy field, some fences and a couple of thousand slightly drunk people in welly boots and odd hats. It nearly always rained but that was part of the charm.

mockneymotormouth said...

For the true connoiseur, I believe that the Cheltenham Gold Cup is the pinnacle of the National Hunt calendar. The Grand National is just for scallies, and to make bimbo secretaries feel 'useful' when they are charged with organising the sweepstake/lucky dip.

weasel said...

Cheltenham is good for making money but the National is it for knackering racing.

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