As a member of team Duralock, it is not possible to go anywhere without ‘fence spotting’ and holidays are no exception! A trip to Barbados last week happily coincided with the start of the third and final racing season of 2015.
Whilst the Thoroughbred Breeders Association and competitive racing are relatively new to the island (1970’s & 80’s), this does not mean that the sport has any less of a prestigious history here than anywhere else in the world. The Barbados Turf Club, which regulates and promotes horse racing in Barbados, was established in 1905 and is located in the Historic Garrison Savannah, close to the capital, Bridgetown.
The Garrison Savannah has been the home of horse racing in Barbados since 1845. The officers of the British Regiment, who were stationed in Barbados, used what was then the parade ground to match their horses in races and the wealthy merchants and planters later joined them.
Nowadays, those who want to enjoy race day from the stands can do so from as little as $10, however if you prefer a more informal atmosphere you can just lounge in the shade of the trees which surround the entire 6-furlong track, completely free of charge! Here, you will find traditional Bajan barbecue, burgers and cold beers all for sale from stalls, bikes and the back of vans or pickups.
A Caribbean race day is definitely an experience and not just because of the closeness of the track to the stands (you can actually stroke the winners on their way past and chat to the trainers and jockeys on their way in), but mostly because of the warm welcome and carnival atmosphere that comes with any event on these islands.
There is one complaint however, not a piece of Duralock fencing in sight… yet!
Saturday sees one of the sporting highlights of the Scottish racing calendar, the Scottish Grand National, held at Ayr Racecourse.
Attracting some of the finest chasers from the UK & Ireland, this blue riband event will host many recognisable names from the English Grand National held at Aintree the previous weekend. There are 30 runners in total, with Balthazar King, Gas Line Boy and Soll (amongst many others) all part of this years line up, competing over four miles and jumping 27 fences.
The Elk was the first Scottish Grand National winner, back in 1867, which indicates that the Scottish Grand National history is a long and illustrious one. The race was originally hosted by Bogside racecourse where it was run over a distance of 3 miles and 7 furlongs, before being moved to Ayr in 1966. The 1974 was an unforgettable race when it was won by the peerless, Red Rum, carrying top weight and just a few weeks after winning Grand National at Aintree. This incredible feat still remains a record.
Brian Fletcher takes Red Rum (No 1) to victory in the Scottish Grand National. Ayr, April 1974. Picture: TSPL.
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