41 Day 278 – Racing With Dad

For as long as i can remember my Father has been a fan of horse racing, a passion that he shared with his Mother, my Gran. I remember going to visit Gran usually on a Sunday morning, Mum stayed at home cooking the Sunday dinner, and the visit was always timed to perfection, we never dared be late thats for sure, our dog would have seriously enjoyed the roast! Gran was a formidable woman, a hard upbringing had taught her to deal with most things life threw at her, raising a large family against a backdrop of World War 2 with 6 children in a small terraced house in the backstreets of Coventry, bombed out in the blitz, losing a husband to a routine operation gone bad, you could say she had it tough. But racing was an escape to Gran, a moment to dream of winning big, the thrill of the chase, the pleasure of losing the stress and worry of the life she led just for a moment, the pulse racing, feeling alive, like she was racing with those horses to the finish line. More often than not she would lose, but she never bet more than a few pence, she simply couldnt afford to, but that did not lessen the enjoyment. I don’t believe Gran ever got to visit a real life race course, taking pleasure from the TV screenings, and although she could stand up to any man she never ventured into the then male domain of the betting office, preferring to send one of her sons on the important duty of placing her bets and collecting any winnings. I remember them chatting animatedly about close shaves and stewards enquiries, fiddling jockeys and bent trainers….I never really understood what it was all about but I observed their exchanges, soaking up the drama. Maybe this is where my love of horses stems from. Gran is no longer with us, no longer studying the form from the comfort of her armchair in the same house that she raised 6 children and survived the war whilst homes around fell in the bombings. But my Dad continues the family passion, Saturdays are the day when he can be found for an hour or two, studying the form in the same way as Gran did, working out the odds, willing the jockey to bring his choice home first, riding every stride to the last. I had the ultimate pleasure of taking him to Cheltenham for the Gold Cup meeting on his 60th birthday, and more recently to Warwick races as a Fathers day surprise. On both occassions we had a ball, winning some, losing some, but always enjoying every moment….jumping around like kids when we won, tearing up tickets when we lost, me and my Dad. Or was it……somehow I think the spirit of my Gran was right there with us, looking over our shoulders and sharing in the passion that i believe we both have because of her, for that I thank her.

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