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ARMCHAIR PARIS


 

Newmarket
May 2007

May 5, 2007 --  Newmarket, the historic home of British horseracing, has called to us so we're heading there for the 2000 Guineas, one of the first big races of the British flatracing season. Joe has done his research. He called months ago, ordered seats for us, discussed logistics with Tony and Sarah. He's bought racing papers, programs. Our original plan for a picnic on the lawn with Pim's and such has been scratched so that we don't have to get such an early start. Besides the weather doesn't look that good. So, it's Saturday morning in London with a rush across town to King's Crossing station to meet up with Kathy, Sarah and Tony. (scroll down for pix).

So, off we went, first to Cambridge, then a change to the two-car train to Newmarket. We passed through the pretty English countryside, looking out on lush green fields filled with pheasants, rabbits, cows, rabbits, sheep, rabbits, and rabbits! Why are there so many rabbits? What's up with that?

The race courses at Newmarket are impressive, with long grassy (and slightly hilly) stretches that have seen horses competing for centuries. The races on this Saturday were run on the Rowley course, which is in a straight line from right to left. Everyone was dressed to the nines, with impressive hats, kilts, veddy, veddy British. The bookmakers were lined up, with lighted signs showing what odds they were offering the public. Once we found our seats in the balcony area, we settled in to watch the big race of the day, the 2000 Guineas. This race is a classic mile for three-year-old colts and fillies, although very few fillies actually run. First run in 1808, the race's original purse was 2000 guineas, hence the name. In 2007 the race offered a purse of 350,000 pounds, or $700,000 -- mighty rich! There were two dozen horses running from all over Europe, and we saw many of the same owners, trainers and jockeys we'd seen in France in the past few weeks...small world!

Our pick for the race, US Ranger, was bred in Kentucky (by Danzig), owned by an Irishman (Michael Tabor), trained in France (J.C. Rouget), and ridden by a French jockey (C.P. Lemaire).  All that sounded promising, and he looked good too. This race is particularly interesting in that the horses, running a straight line mile, tend towards either rail, splitting up into two packs, one group running against the inside rail, the other against the outside.  Neither is a favored spot, but racing strategy revolves around dealing with that split aspect. The race was won by a 25-1 longshot, Cockney Rebel, ridden by another French jockey, Olivier Peslier. US Ranger came in fourth. Rats.  According to the experts, US Ranger missed the win because the jockey separated from both splits, running the horse down the center of the course to the finish line. Ah well, another day at the track. It was a beautiful race nonetheless, and what a privilege to be there to see it!

 


Tony, Sarah and Kathy on the train.

 


There's so much to study...

 


...and so much to discuss.

 


Veddy, veddy British...


 



...and Sheik Mohammed al Maktoum
with full entourage.


 


 


 


Our hopeful and second favorite, US Ranger, on his way to the starting gate
with Lemaire aboard...



...the gate is way the heck off in the distance
(in fact, a mile)
 

 


And they're off,
splitting into two groups left and right...

 

After the race, the 25-1 winner
Cockney Rebel, ridden by Olivier Peslier, was called out to parade before
the cheering crowd!

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