Travel With Vik

An evening of British horse racing

After a few hours rest following my visit to Hampton Court Palace, it was time to check out some horse racing at Epsom Downs. This is one of the most famous horse racing venues in all of England, there is one race where the Queen visits annually. In the summer, there seem to be weekly races followed by music. It sounded like something different, so I purchased a few tickets online before coming.

I showed up a couple of hours before the races actually began just to get a feel for the event, as I had never attended a horse race despite there being a race park in my own hometown. This was a good idea, as the horses were displayed to the public. The general public looked out of curiosity while betters looked more intently.

Since gambling is illegal in most of the US, it was a bit startling to see betting stands all over the park. The odds were listed and bets were made seconds up to the race. I placed several two pound bets over the course of the night, and lost all of them. In general, the favored horses did tend to win. I saw a true gambler at one point, as he placed 200 pounds on the favorite to win, and he won the bet.

The races were spread apart in thirty minute intervals, even though each race was only about a minute long. This gave people an excuse to have some fish and chips and a beer, the English tradition. Though races are known for attracting an aristocratic crowd, the vibe on this night was mostly casual. This is smart of the event planners, as appealing to a bigger audience is a good idea in the big picture.

After the races were over, it was time for 70s night. During the summer, the racecourse was hosting several musical nights: 60’s nights, 70’s night, 80’s night, and 90’s night to try to bring in some crowds. I wasn’t sure what this really meant, but it was a couple of DJs and a lot of old people reliving their youth of forty years ago. I was told by a local that last year a live band performed but to cut costs a DJ was brought in. Out of all the songs, I think I recognized a handful at most: Donna Summer and Earth, Wind, and Fire.

Also, there were dancers on stilts.

One of them even ate fire.

This was a scene that could only be described as surreal. But a fitting way to end a night and go to bed wondering what could top this on the next day of this trip.

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