Saturday 4 April 2009

The Grand National

It's a beautiful day at Aintree. I'm not a fan of horse-racing and have never placed a bet in my life. I live only a few miles from a very well-known racecourse which is regularly attended by the Royal Family but have never been to the races (though I might be said to have gone to the dogs!)

However, I love to hear knowledgeable people talking about the Sport of Kings (and Queens, for that matter) and though I become very tense watching the horses over the jumps there is something very attractive about a field full of supremely fit animals racing for ultimate glory.

Forty runners, only one female, only one grey, four and a half miles, thirty jumps – so much adrenalin flowing, in horses, jockeys, trainers, owners and race-going crowd. So much adrenalin, in fact, that there was a false start. Oh dear me! It's the second start now – and another false start and even louder booing from the crowd. Third time lucky? Yes, they're away, flooding down to the first jump – two down, second jump – two down. By the end of the race, won by a 100-1 outsider, only seventeen of the forty starters crossed the finishing line. One horse collapsed crossing the line – a sad end for that particular yard.

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