Kids & Parenting

A Day at the Races

In all of my 41 years, I have never been to any kind of horse racing event. I have watched it on the TV and been peer pressured into Grand National sweepstakes at work, but I have never felt any kind of inclination to take myself along to a racecourse to watch horses being ridden around it. No, not even Ladies’ Day at Ascot 🙄 I also don’t own a hat or a fascinator 🤷🏾‍♀️ So when, I was asked if I would like to bring my family along to a @greatbritishracing family day @epsomdownsracecourse, I was initially a bit indifferent. But, I took a chance. So, on a rainy Sunday in September, we all drove down to Surrey and had THE BEST DAY OUT! 🙌🏾 Who knew a racecourse could be so much fun?! 🐎🥳

Yes, it was a mission to get there (North London to Surrey 😭) but when we arrived there was ample (free 🙌🏾) parking – result. A short walk and we arrived at the Duchess’s Stand. I had quickly looked up dress code before we left the house, as The Photographer had almost choked when he saw me about to leave in a pair of black jeans and a blue denim jacket (casual wear is fine). Nevertheless, as we walked in, I half expected everyone to turn and look at us à la An American Werewolf in London pub scene. They didn’t 😬

It was a really mixed crowd. Some had decided to make an effort and they were a few mud-caked stiletto heels. Others were dressed more casually, like us. There were people of all ages and ethnicities…and we weren’t the only racecourse novices. I sometimes get slight anxiety when I walk into typically “white” spaces on my own. I get into defense mode; to catch the stares and hold them until the other person looks away; to shield my children from prejudiced assumptions about their behaviour. I felt it for a second, but it rapidly disappeared 🙂

The staff were 👌🏾. I have never placed a bet in a bookies in my life, so had no idea what I was doing. I asked an older guy who was selling racecards (a programme of the event detailing information on the horses + advertising) what I should consider before placing a bet on a horse. He was only too happy to impart some advice. I thanked him and off we went 😊

The kids and I chose a horse we liked the look and sound of. I walked up to the lady behind the betting counter and told her I wanted to put £2 on it to win. She took my money, gave me a white slip, smiled and said “good luck!” We went outside to find a good spot and got ready to watch the race…in the light drizzle 🌧🙄 The race started and we could see the horses over on the other side of the course. Within a minute, they were halfway round and sprinting towards us. Excitement levels were high, not least because our horse was in the lead. The atmosphere was electric! A group of slightly intoxicated ladies, in shift dresses and heels, knocked over their bottle of prosecco. I side eyed. Our horse crossed the finish line and we won £8.80! 🙌🏾

But it wasn’t just all about the gambling – there was lots of fun stuff to entertain the kids too: a petting zoo 🐖🐏🐓, space hoppers, face painting, biscuit decorating…imagine any school fete + a bookmakers + a picturesque setting + some horses. Sounds like fun, right? 😉

We chanced our luck, placed a second bet, lost our £2 and learned a valuable lesson about gambling 🙏🏾

To be completely honest, at times, I was conflicted. The kids asked if it hurt when the jockeys hit the horses. I had to admit that I didn’t know. The kids asked why this kind of gambling was ok when we have warned them about ever being lured into a Paddy Power shop on the high street back at home. I said that it was ok because I was not addicted and was only ever going to place £4 worth of bets. They seemed happy with both answers and enjoyed the day 🤷🏾‍♀️👌🏾

The day doesnt need to be expensive. Bring a packed lunch and some drinks for the kids. Any food or drink, apart from alcohol, can be brought in (although don’t quote me, that’s just what the lady at the door said). Tickets start from £15 and #under18sracefree! 🙌🏾

I was genuinely surprised how much we enjoyed it. If it’s not something you would usually do, and you don’t have any ethical objections, I’d give it a go for a day out. There is no obligation at all to gamble – just get the kids to pick a colour they like from the racecard and cheer that horse on! 🙌🏾

Cee x

*I was gifted tickets for this event in return for an honest review. All thoughts and words are my own*

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