I like to look at horses, prefer the looks of a full blooded Arab to a hardworking Carthorse,although I probably prefer the character of the latter. I don’t know much about them, and have never really wanted to.
In fact ever since a girl who I wanted to impress at school told me to have a ride on her pony and I made an absolute fool of myself (it wasn’t that I couldn’t ride it,I couldn’t even get up on it to find out) I have never had any inclination to have anything to do with them except admire them from a distance.
I was rather relieved when neither of my two daughters ever expressed the wish to take riding lessons,even though their grand parents had been farmers,because I’m sure they would have got a pony had they wanted one.
Yesterday I had a phone call from one of them who told me she had been to a race meting for the first time .
It brought back a few memories from my childhood,when racing and a betting on a horse was just as confusing to me.
During school holidays I often stayed in a small village in Hampshire,England with my Grandmother. After the morning chores were done she would sit down and study the racing pages in the paper.Then she would chose which race meeting she would follow on the radio! (Later the T.V) and I was sent down to the bookmakers to place sixpence each way on the horse of her choice.
It was a wonder of course that the whole experience didn’t ruin me for life,but children are very resilient.So by the time I was a teenager I had quite a good knowledge of the racing world,and Dick Francis gave me the rest.
Of course knowing a bit about stables, and jockeys and form in general does help if you want to win on the horses,but then there is Lady Luck who has to be on the friendly side.
Which makes me remember a story my Mother told me.
She had no idea and no real interest in racing in fact she hardly knew the difference between The Derby and The Grand National. One day while she working in the emergency room of our local hospital a man was brought in at deaths door. Luckily they were able to persuade him not to step over the thresh-hold.
Later my mother asked him if he had realised what was happening.
“Yeah” he said in broad cockney with a grin to go with it,
“never say die”
There was a horse called Never Say Die, running in the Grand National that day with the highest two figure odds to one.
My Mother put all the notes she had in her purse on it. To win.
Yes, you’re right, it did.