Horse Racing Hijinks and Casino Chaos (Memories Of)

We live in strange times. I can count of one hand the number of occasions I’ve ever seriously talked to anyone about a pandemic, in fact I’ve likely had more conversations about Pantene. Yet here we are, doused in 70% alcohol gel and now all finger wagging experts in the field.

Life on lockdown in a bundle of both good and bad with us performing a balancing act of isolation and contemplation during this difficult time. Hesitant though we are, we’re now all the more aware and appreciative of what we have and of what we may have taken for granted. And in looking to the future, we revisit memories from the past.

It can’t have been a month before the world was turned upside down, that my brothers and I accompanied by our characterful cousins had a break down the coast. It’s something of a family tradition really when we used to go with our Dad decades back. A break away where we leave life’s problems behind, stay in a cheap hotel reminiscent of something Del Boy might stumble upon on a Jolly Boys Outing, and hit the local horse racing track followed by the casino. My brothers,  a decade older than me, have been into horse racing since I popped out of the womb so it’s always good to make memories at the racecourse.

Our local racecourse is in Great Yarmouth and I’ve lost count of the number of times we’ve been there over the years.  Yarmouth has seen better days, but there’s something to be said for places that are a bit (or a lot) rough around the edges. The racecourse is the jewel in the Yarmouth crown if you will, the hub, and also exactly what you might expect. Exorbitant entry prices, chips and a pint, the Alan Partidge-like commentary of Derek Thompson (who also judges the ‘Ladies Day’ competition… with excessive enthusiasm!) and top class racing. Rituals that make up the day like watching the horses go around the paddock to spot the real contenders, and trying to find the best spot to watch a race, really do add to the day.

We’ve all had decent wins at Yarmouth races over the years, and sometimes on big priced horses too which is always a bonus. If you’ve done your homework and have answers to questions that certainly doesn’t hurt your win rate. My biggest ever win there though, was luck more than skill. An outsider in the final race of the day, the roulette equivalent of a lucky spin of the wheel. The bookmaker was in two mind about even taking the bet as a waltzed up with seconds to spare, but clearly thought it was free money courtesy of a horse had no hope. Of course when I was making my way back towards him minutes later to collect my winnings he may well have been reconsidering his stance. Cheered on by family, these are the memories that stay with you.

The racecourse has a tie-in with the local Grosvenor Casino, a very attractive venue, which was once frequented by royals. You can use your wildly priced racecourse entry ticket for a free bet on the roulette wheel, but more about that in part two…

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