Boo had a glum face.
Boo: But I don’t want to go to the horse racing.
Me: Well, we’ve decided we’re going and we can only go once a year, so tough. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it though.
In hindsight, I’m glad we can only go once a year. Or it’s a shame we have to take the kids too.
Next year, can I just go with my sister and/or my dad?
The best thing about Fakenham racecourse is that you can get really up close to the racing by watching from the centre of the course. It’s no posh hats for us – we slum it with the hoi polloi, but you can feel every hoof, hear every swear of the jockey as they race past.
And Noodles and Boo were enjoying being up close to the action too. Positioned just after a fence, Noodles giggled every time a horse cleared the jump.
Boo had chosen You’ve Been Mowed (based on the jockey wearing the most red). If it came 1st she’d have been taking £100 for her £2 bet.
At first, we didn’t hold our breath. You’ve Been Mowed was at the back of the field.
But on the next lap he was moving ahead. Still, surely he had no chance.
And then, as the horses rounded the final corner he was vying for third place! If he took it Boo would still get £25! We were stood right by the final fence. This was exciting!
Over went the first horse. Over went the second. You’ve Been Mowed and his third place rival started to jump…
And You’ve Been Mowed messed it up. He clipped the jump, his jockey thrown, tumbling along the floor. But worse, his front leg was caught in the reins! Head ducked he stumbled through the railings, practically face-to-face with Boo!
At that moment we all collectively held our breath.
The speed of track staff to calm the horse was amazing. But Boo was clearly taken aback.
Me: How nice of your horse to come and say ‘hi’ to you.
Husband: It would’ve been nicer if he’d finished the race first.
Husband: Boo has clearly inherited my ability to pick racehorses.
It’s family legend that the one time Husband picked a horse so completely destined to win a race from the off – a horse ahead by furlongs after the final jump – that only his kiss of death meant that the horse had a heart attack along the final straight, again right in front of us.
The horse got up, despite a black screen being erected to hide it away from the crowds in the grandstand (if not those of us watching from the centre of the course!). The crowd roared. Husband wept.
Race 2 and Boo had ummed and ahhed between two horses: Bringewood Belle in pink and Monroe Park in red and black hoops. Red won out and the money (all £1 of it) went on Monroe Park.
Maybe picking based on the jockeys’ silks isn’t the best way to choose a winner.
I’ve pretty much no idea what happened during Race 3. Noodles had decided he’d had enough of the horses. There were other things to explore.
And we missed out on ice cream.
Boo’s horse WON Race 4! She was pretty stoked, bringing in a haul of £10 for her £1 stake. (Not that Husband let her keep it. He’d claim it was to teach her that gambling doesn’t pay. I’d say it’s more because he’s a tight wad.)
Unfortunately I missed the whole thing. Noodles had found a golf shed to play in.
Just five horses to choose from. Including one ridden by the legendary Tony McCoy. Although, being 6, that mattered not a jot to Boo.
I guess you can’t win them all.
The final race. I hadn’t placed a bet all day. And I wasn’t going to either – Noodles was far too busy trying to get stuck in the fencing to queue to lose money.
I didn’t even know which horse Boo had chosen. She did though, and from the look on her face it wasn’t a great result.
But Husband had had a win. Not that you’d have guessed it.
Maybe he was upset that actually Boo had had a more successful win than him. At least he’d been able to enjoy the day, rather than toddler-wrangling for the afternoon.
Still, as we sat in the free-for-all heading out of the course (because where does the army of parking stewards go when everyone’s trying to leave?) Boo was in high spirits. Noodles sat in his car seat with a cheeky grin on his face. At least I hadn’t lost any money, although I had lost the will to live when Noodles had spent 20 minutes playing in the bunker on the golf course.
Oh well, I could at least claim to be right. Boo had enjoyed herself. Hopefully, maybe, next time I’ll get to too.