It is a hot day at Sandown races.

I watch as they are paraded around the ring. For a moment I decide that I fancy number one, then number four catches my eye and I am torn. Then I decide that the ‘best-dressed lady competition’ is really not worth caring about one way or another, although the horror is drawing me in with the siren call of a road accident.

I don’t know why sporting venues feel that they have to do this sort of thing. I suspect it is because they don’t have the confidence that the sport itself is interesting enough, so they add cheerleaders, dancing children or ‘best dressed lady’ competitions. There are thousands and thousands of people here to see the horses racing. It would be like the managers of the Louvre hiring Tom O’Connor to stand beside the Mona Lisa telling jokes.

“And we have the gorgeous Louise Owen, wife of Michael, here to be our judge,” announces the announcer. “Louise – you’re looking gorgeous today.”

A sea of uninterested faces gaze down from the balcony’s shade aside except, interestingly, an elderly man beside me who appears to be concentrating very, very hard on looking at specific bits of Louise Owen through his binoculars.

“Now – contestant one. You’re looking gorgeous! Where is your hat from?”

The hat is from Marks and Spencer, contestant one reports, in a voice that could be used for deforestation.

“Was that in Reading? It’s gorgeous.”

The hat was bought in Manchester, a fact that causes much amazement. “So you’re from READING, you bought your hat in MANCHESTER and you’re here at SANDOWN! How does that work, then?” he hoots in bafflement that a woman should, at one reckless point in her early twenties, leave the confines of her own house.

“Well it’s gorgeous! Now – our second contestant. Isn’t she gorgeous everybody! Louise – isn’t she gorgeous!” enthuses the Announcer, forgetting to add the required “knowing you, Louise Owen – aha.”

Contestant two is probably gorgeous, but I could never be interested in a woman who enters herself for best-dressed lady competitions. Her dress is from somewhere, her hat is from somewhere else. Contestants three, four and five are also described as such, although in my opinion contestant four should be disqualified as she entered a best-dressed lady competition at a racecourse the previous week, and is thus probably researching a book.

Louise Owen picks a winner. The levels of excitement fail to even approach a whelm. I head off to the bookies. Everybody has laughed at me, because I have a hot each-way tip from a bloke with tattoos who was at bowls. The horse romps in second and they are not laughing any more, oh no.

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14 thoughts on “I go to the races.

  1. guyana gyal says:

    For a second I thought Louise and the other best dressed ladies were horses.

    That is what happens when you read blogs in a hurry when you’re supposed to be planning lessons.

  2. Megan says:

    Why on earth haven’t they had the obvious related competition – best outfitted bloke who managed to make it out the house and past the gimlet eye of his significant other.

  3. This is why sports venues started specializing in the first place – otherwise we’d be back in the days of the Roman amphitheatre with otherwise attractive young ladies creaking around in stiff leather bikinis and slipping in the blood left over from the warm-up act.

    Anyway, why bother with a ‘best-dressed lady competition’ when you can have a ‘least-dressed lady competition’? It totally misses the point of having attractive young ladies at all. I am always careful to keep clear blue water between my gambling (online poker) and my wenches (seedy pole-dancing clubs). That way, each vice can concentrate on its own core competencies, resulting in maximum satisfaction for all…

  4. Pat says:

    I must stop following Ivan.
    A well known jockey’s garden used to back onto mine and we cut a hole in the fence for social reasons. He was an ‘over the sticks’ – afficionados will understand – jockey, always with his nose in the form book and his main consideration at spotting a winner was to do with whether it was breaking out in a sweat. Or not. Sadly I can’t remember the relevance of it.

  5. This “social hole” in the fence, Pat – was it at eye level, or… no, forget I asked…

    Has that been you lurking around behind me all this time then? Honestly, I can’t even sneak out into the back garden for a quiet smoke any more without that telephoto lens whirring out of the shrubbery. If this doesn’t stop I shall inform the Police. Or start wearing clothes in the garden. Your call…

  6. tillylil says:

    Well they wouldn’t be laughing if you didn’t share your racing tips.
    Tattooed bowls players! – what ever is the game coming to?

  7. john malpas says:

    Don’t these contests etc bring ther womenfolk in? Its all business.
    Disaproval makes you sound like a feminist you know.

  8. Pat says:


    What happened to that nice young man I once likened to dear Michael Wilding?

  9. Keith says:

    …they don’t have the confidence that the sport itself is interesting enough, so they add cheerleaders, dancing children or ‘best dressed lady’ competitions

    Or Status Quo concerts. Yes, I’m going to Doncaster races later this month. Looking forward to the “worst dressed aging old Quo fan” contest.

  10. Blazing says:

    So what exactly has he had tattooed on his bowls then, Jonny?

  11. JonnyB says:

    Ivan, Pat – will you two just get it together please -this extended comments box courtship is taking over from more serious matters.

    Hullo John Malpas and welcome!!!

    Doncaster races and Status Quo?!?

    Puppet Show and Spinal Tap…

  12. I shall go at my own pace, Jonny, thank you very much! As the stalkee here I am the aggrieved party, after all.

    Anyway, if you wrote about something worthwhile for a change we would not find it so easy to change the subject on you. The microcephalic adventures of some siliconed scouse WAG simply does not cut it, I’m afraid…

  13. I was going to make a joke about the Sandown racetrack being five miles long, but then I remembered that’s Camptown.

    So, you know, forget it.


  14. Pat says:

    I’m suitably chastened Jonny.
    I would just point out that the aforesaid is the same age as my sons – as indeed is most of blogland it would appear.

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