Category Archives: Punchestown

What do you go for?

Generally nowadays, most sports that I’ve seen in person in my life, I’ve seen both pre, and post transition. In fact I cant think of one that I’ve only seen post transition in truth. There are a few, that I only saw live in school years, because of being on school teams, so in those days, annual trips gave me the chance. The two I remember strongly are tennis at Wimbledon (I wasnt any good, but hardly anyone played, so others got the chance to go, to fill the coach), and athletics, because despite all my physical limitations, there was something about me, and a shot putt, that just clicked for a couple of years, so…Crystal Palace, for some competition saw me there once. The only other two that ring a bell in that sense, are football, because of course when I was young, all boys were expected to go to the game, so I had that initiation of life in my time. I cant see me ever going now, in truth, but never say never, and all that…

The other, and probably only sport that I havent been to post transition, and think that it might be fun to do so, is horse racing. Not because I have any great interest in the sport nowadays, but purely and simply because I think it would be fun, just once, to get dressed up nicely, and taken to the races. Or at least go, if nothing else. In truth, I cant remember the last time I went to the races in this country. I’m guessing it would be Newbury, at some point in 2001, as I working there at the time. In fact, I have been to 1 meeting since then, but it was in the US, at Philadelphia Park, and even that must be about 10 years ago, or more. That was fun, no entry fees! To be honest, I suspect that one of the reasons I havent yet fulfilled my ambition to go to the races in a nice dress, and shoes, is the cost of entry to meetings over here, especially the bigger ones. Yes, Yorkshire sensibilities with money, and spending it, probably play a part in that call.

There is also the factor that one of the major reasons for going to the races is the gambling side of it, and lets face it, I’m a once a year punter now, so…is it a silly thing to want to do? I guess its just one of those silly, completing the circle of life things that I feel I would love to do?

So what brought all this on, you ask? Well, most of my race going has been less than major meetings, with just one little exception, the Punchestown Festival, in Ireland. Yes, that started today. In truth, I watched one race, the fun one. Yes, the one over the cross country course, much more fun than standard racing lol! I went there a few times in the 90’s, never been back since, and now probably never will! Likewise, the only course I’ve never been to, that I would love to go to, is a quirky one. Yes, Laytown, on the beach. I know, you wouldnt wear a nice dress to go there, lol! Still would be on my dream list, but likely to go no further now, I suspect?

Will I complete that circle in life, who knows? If you asked me honestly, probably not. So many reasons its silly to want to do it, and just the one that makes me want to do it, but I’m sure unless I get free tickets somehow, will not get done, ah well. But, maybe…? All the same, dont expect me to wear heels, if I do! 😛 As for Royal Ascot, I really dont think so! Please, me, in a silly hat?

Fine, what would I go to the races for, but to be one of those beautiful dames, of course! So, 30’s musical time…

A different kind of jump race

So alright, just for once, lets talk about the literal side of work, some horse racing. To the thoroughly uninitiated amongst you, there are 2 types of horse racing, flat racing, where the horses gallop, and never see an obstacle on the course, and then there is national hunt (or jumps) racing, where yes, you’ve guessed it, lots of obstacles in the way of fences and hurdles which have to be jumped, without losing their jockeys in the process.

Technically, within the latter area, there is something that is just ever so slightly different, called cross country racing. There are only 2 tracks in the UK and Ireland where this takes place, and both are holding races over those courses this weekend, Cheltenham and Punchestown. A lot of the fences are similar, though banks (like running up a hill, then back down again) are certainly not seen in normal races. Punchestown goes a step further, and even has a water splash, and used to have a stone wall too, but judging by the film (end of blog), the Health & Safety people have done away with that?

I would actually imagine its as close as we get to the original form of steeplechasing across fields, between 2 steeples nowadays?

Some horses have fits when they see these strange fences, others love them! Some Irish horses only run in cross country races! The most famous example of that over the years was a horse called Risk Of Thunder, who won so many of them, the race at Punchestown this weekend is named after him!

Being honest, apart from the big races, these are my main form of interest in horse racing nowadays, and hopefully I get to see at least part of the fun between calls this weekend. To play the pun on Star Trek, its horse racing, but not as we know it lol!

Anyway, as an example of this magical mayhem, I include film of the most famous of these races each year, the La Touche Cup, this years version in fact, with quite a rousing finish.