I`ve been living in Britain for almost 16 years now and am generally having a really good time over here. However, there are still things about this culture, which are alien to me – horse racing being one of them.
I now accept it as a given, but still find it impossible how much of an event they make about what takes about 15 minutes – everybody has to inform themselves weeks (or at least days) in advance about who is hot and who is not. Placing a bet is almost non-optional (unless you`re a hater!), even if, like us, you never bet on horses all year and know nothing about them. (We just pick what names we like.)
I`ve seen men watching the race inside the betting shop (who provide free nibbles!) and been invited to barbecues with race-themed dress codes – never mind the red carpets, Royals, celebrities and paparazzi seen in Liverpool.
There`s a racecourse in my home town, and I have been once – it was fun and we won some money, but it failed to get me excited. My sister, who was with me, and is very much into horses, was watching out for mistreatment all the time. And of course, horses fall, get injured and sometimes die, all for our entertainment and making money.
As said, we always placed a couple of bets for the Grand National, but not any longer. A few months ago, my husband has been to the races with a few colleagues and came back upset and downbeat. He had watched a horse going on with what was very obviously an already broken leg, then it fell, and although a screen was put on, everybody heard the gunshot that put it out of its misery. People were leaving, there were children… It was awful, and my husband vowed never again to bet on horses.
I never even watched it this year but couldn`t resist Twitter. Although they were boasting (!) about there being no fatalities for 5 years running (I remember this poor creature well – my colleague had placed a bet on it and felt so guilty for shouting at it in front of her telly!) about half of all horses fell, and did so quickly. Twitter was exploding with hate posts, concern and excitement alike – a rather interesting mixture. The Grand National excites and divides, but ignoring it is not an option.
Almost concluding the matter, I must say that can name at least two guys who appear to be making quite a handsome amount of money on the side just by betting on horses (and football), which is not a thing to be underrated. Everybody likes earning money for themselves, and it probably helps to accept or ignore the downsides of this sport. Brits love betting, and winning alongside your horse or team, of course, will attach them to the sport.
The names are interesting. Eric Berne and others have already written about how names can determine the fate of humans (particularly if named after other people), and what on Earth were they thinking calling a racehorse “Dropout Joe” and “Wounded Warrior”? They both fell – of course. Pardon the pun.