The Amazing Race…of Sorts!

Every year a small group of friends and I have a bit of a tradition. We go to the premier young horse competition in Australia, Dressage and Jumping with the Stars (DJWTS). Attendance is a serious business. We have our preferred seats. We take careful note of every performance and we agree or disagree with the judges as we see fit. We generally find like-minded friends around us and have a great time.

As technology has developed so has our ability to find out further background on horses and their breeding through phones or iPads. March 2011 saw us in our regular seats, well settled in by day two and thoroughly enjoying ourselves.

Amy was on her iPad and casually mentioned that Black Caviar was racing that night at Moonee Valley Night Racing. Black Caviar at that stage was unbeaten from ten starts and the momentum was seriously building around her. Nearly a year on and undefeated from nineteen starts you’d nearly have to be pulseless to be an Australian who’s not heard of her. She’s taken the racing world, both in Australia and overseas, by storm. It’s casually mentioned to the group that we should go and watch her. Much excitement is then dampened by the logistics of watching the evening dressage class AND making it to the racecourse in time. There were a number of horses competing in the evening we wanted to see so we temporarily forgot the idea.

A couple of hours later Amy muses….’how many times will we get to see a horse like this race’ she says. Our eyes start gleaming again. We decide to give it a try. It will mean scurrying off as the final salute is given. Remember that wonderful technology? It will give us the scores and placings as we’re driving up the freeway. We decide to do it. It’s going to be VERY tight.

We hit the ground running, and giggling more than is probably decent for grown women, start the race from Werribee to Moonee Valley. Moonee Valley racetrack’s in an area of Melbourne none of us know particularly well. It’s ok though, we’ve got technology! Poor Renee is driving……’turn here!’, ‘no! There’, ‘hurry!!!’, I’m surprised she didn’t stop, open the doors and order us all out. There was much hilarity in her little car! We flew into the Moonee Valley parking, which is in the middle of the racetrack, narrowly making the turnoff at high speed and hear the protest siren go for the previous race. Phew – a reprieve!

By around 9pm at night on a night Black Caviar was racing the parking was very full. Bemused parking attendants directed us and then we were out of the car and running for the ticket booth! Paid and we’re off again. Through the tunnel, out the other side and smack bang into the general admission area which was packed with characters you’d associate with the term ‘colourful racing identities’. We gradually moved ourselves up onto the rail at about the 200m mark congratulating ourselves all the way.

On arrival at the rail I turned around and went ‘oh Hi Bev’ to a friend who was standing next to us. Talk about global village!

The entrants for the William Reid Stakes made their way onto the track. We all adjusted our eyes to looking at racing thoroughbreds after looking at warmbloods for two days. Bev looks over and remarks “you’ve all been at DJWTS too haven’t you”! It was certainly a different bunch of horses to look at, I suspect serious racegoers would’ve found DJWTS hard work also!

 The mare everyone had been waiting to see came onto the track to enormous cheers. She simply owned the space. There are only a handful of racehorses I’ve seen be so self possessed, so cool, calm and collected. She went down to the barriers, raced, won, and wandered back to scale wondering no doubt what the hoo-ha was about. The photo shows what nearly every person who’s been to see her race has on their mobile phone, a blurry image of the mare going past. I was no different!

I love standing next to the rail at the racetrack and feeling the field come down the straight. Seeing Black Caviar run was really something to remember, Amy was right.

We had another long day at DJWTS the next day so we all went home after the race, still giggling. DJWTS is next week, we’re all booked again. Due to circumstances it looks like I’ll be picking Amy up from the airport with a float on the car. Should make me easy to see I guess…..another adventure will begin!


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