14. Off To The Races!
Anyone up for a spot of betting? Daniel has always wanted to go to the horse races. It's such a traditional English day out kind of thing to do. We were lucky that we were in England during race season and even luckier to find ourselves within driving distance to beautiful track, The Beverley Racecourse.
Before we headed out for our idyllic day at the races I had an appointment at a salon in Louth to get a lovely race day blow out. It was so fun to talk shop with Kay, one of the owners of The Style Lounge- who I must confess I'd been in touch with via Instagram a few months prior to our trip. It was so nice to make the connection all the way across the pond! If you find yourself in Louth or the surrounding area I highly recommend Kay, she talented and nice to boot!
The Style Lounge, Louth, Lincolnshire
After my luxurious hair appointment and a filling breakfast at The Joseph Morton we very sadly left Louth behind (I might have misted up a bit...) and set out on the road for the market town of Bevereley. We drove through Bevereley on our last trip to England but didn't stop. The town was absolutely bustling for a Tuesday and there was no parking in sight. I was desperate for a coffee so instead of admitting defeat I had Daniel drop me off and he just kept driving around the city centre while I got our drinks. One of my greatest pleasures in England is experiencing customer service in the northern part of the country from cheerful employees who call me "Love". It makes me think of Daniel's elderly grandfather and it warms my insides. It's not said in a demeaning way, but in a way that says, "you are special to me", even though they're just taking my coffee order. The two gents working in the Toll Gavel location of Costa Coffee in the city centre of Beverley had that warm cheeriness and threw "Love" around generously with me. I'm not going to lie, I felt like a Queen when I walked out of there and I'm sure they didn't think on me again after I walked out of their view.
With coffees in hand, Daniel and I pulled up to the Beverley Racecourse, an absolute institution with a 300 year history. Daniel is the one who arranged the whole day so I didn't even know what I was in for. We pulled into the field and drove toward signs pointing us to the "Enclosure". We proceeded to cross the actual track itself! I didn't realize that the tickets that we got meant we were tailgating in the center of the track. It was such a cool experience! The races themselves are quite short, so you can hang out in your car or if it's a lovely day sit in chairs or on blankets and have a picnic inbetween the action.
The vantage point you have from the center of the track adds to the whole experience. Not only can you get really close to the action of the horses racing past you but you have a good view of the other spectators. Ladies in the box seats with lovely hats, men with caps standing at the railing yelling for their horse and some gals that are just there for the cocktails and the sunshine.
Raceday Programme in hand, we ate our pre-made sandwiches, cracked open a can of hard cider and pretended to understand how to bet on a horse. Even after a full day at the races I still didn't get the process and although I won (!!) the second race I can't say it was anything other than beginners luck. You want to know how I won that second race of the day? I liked the jockey's jersey pattern and the name of the horse. Yep, that's how I won, which basically means I just got lucky. I took my £20 winnings, said a quiet thank you to Pearl of Qatar and decided to just pretend to bet the rest of the day. For those that want to know, I didn't "win" for the remainder of the day, so thank goodness that I didn't actually bet after that.
Had magazines at the ready for inbetween race entertainment
A spot of hard cider to wet our whistles
The races only last a few minutes because the track is a short, flat one- just over a mile so those horses just whiz by. It's so exciting to be that close to the action. The first race of that day had a spot of drama. These horses were young. Their category was: "novice two yrs old", so these little beauties were pretty new to racing. I had chosen "Champagne Clouds" as my horse for that race. My strategy for the day (which I mentioned before) was picking my horse based off of the jockey's jersey. Based off of the colors that jockey Ben Robinson was wearing I decided this was my horse. Jaunty black and white diamond pattern, that's my winner!
Champagne Clouds heading down the to gate to start the race
The amazing muscles of Georgian Manor
The horses were lined up in the gate. Daniel and I leaned over the rails to see the start of the race. I was silently cheering on good ol' Champagne Clouds, even though I didn't have real money on him I still wanted to win. Suddenly, there was a big hustle and bustle at the gates. We all strained to see. The horses were restless. Wouldn't you know it, just like that my winner got himself completely under the gates, knocked his jockey off and bolted. I'll tel you, that's quite the feat. Those gates aren't very far off the ground, he had to really squeeze himself under there. Poor little thing must have been terrified. They rounded him up and he was withdrawn from the race. He may not have won me any money that day but I've got a soft spot for that little Gelding. I'm going to follow his career and maybe one day I'll watch him race again!
We stayed for the entire day- 8 races in total. It was interesting to observe the spectators. More drink flowed, skin turned pink from sun exposure, and spirits either lifted or dropped based on the winnings. We watched a bored but naughty little boy pick up his mother's purse when she wasn't looking and dump it in a trash can. Don't worry, she retrieved it. Little junior was a fixture for us that day. He chose every opportune moment (i.e. When the horses were racing down the track about to finish) to either need a wee, want a snack or run off. I'm pretty sure his dad was regretting their choice to bring him along that day.
At one point we were flipping through the Programme and noticed a little box on one of the pages with a cartoon figure and in bold letters: Racecourse Chaplaincy. Here is what is said: " You might see some of our chaplains during your day. These guys are here to offer their support and lend a listening ear to whoever might need one, regardless of your faith or background. If you're feeling a bit wobbly, sad, or just need a chat, seek one of them out and they'll do their utmost to help out." I turned to Daniel confused. Why do they have chaplains walking around? His response totally took me off guard. The chaplains were there because people get suicidal. It just never dawned on me, because to me it was a fun day out, I'm not a gambler, so I forget that for some people it's a real problem. People could have been gambling away their whole pay checks that day. Losing their homes and ruining their lives. I certainly looked at people differently after that. Suddenly, the gent next to me that was definitley more than a few pints in, didn't look so jovial to me and I wondered if he was gambling away his bank account- because let me tell you, he bet on every single race that day and I'm not sure he came away with any winnings. That was a real eye opening part of that day. One persons lovely day out can be another persons deep dark ditch.
We watched all of the days races intently. Re-applied sunscreen, which was very thoughtfully provided by the track for free and genuinely had a lovely time. I got a taste for the races that day. It helped that we had spectacular weather but there was also just something about watching the horses speed by. We're already planning our next trip to England around racing season and in particular a Ladies Day. I'm just dying to dress up and put a fascinator on. Is it bad that it's still a year and a half away but I already have my dress picked out and I'm on the hunt for a hat? That day will go down in my memory as one of my favorite days of our England trips. Good weather, good company, lots of people watching and an exhilarating sport- oh and chocolate, can't forget the chocolate!