I cannot begin to tell you how much I love horse racing. You know, that bizarre sport where the main participants don’t have the first idea they’re competing in anything, where they are given stupid names which are not their proper names and, in jump racing, many of them are put to death if they are injured leaping over fences. I can’t begin to tell you how much I love it because I don’t. And I’ll prove how much I don’t like it.
A very kind woman offered me two free tickets for today’s Gold Cup day at Cheltenham and I turned them down. I was thrilled to be asked but I was never going to take them, and why would I? I spent 20 minutes aboard a train the other day which was, as Jeremy Corbyn might have put it, ram-packed with people who I can only describe as horse racing wankers. Men of all ages wearing comedy tweed outfits and women of all ages wearing what I hope were not their best dresses. They all had one thing in common: they were all, to a woman and man, blind drunk.
A new regulation was brought in this year at the festival where punters were only allowed to buy four pints at a time to prevent the wild drunkenness that occurred last year when certain footballers poured glasses of urine over the people below. Oh what fun they had. I imagine that instead of one person buying a round of drinks that this year punters merely queued to buy four pints each for themselves, over and over again.
The Corbyn analogy was appropriate since many of the punters were actually sitting in the toilet so no one could use it. Women, in their poshest frocks, actually sitting on the toilet seat and – I begin to retch here – on the floor, eating, drinking and laughing out loud amid the overwhelming stench of urine (and worse). My loyal reader will know that I have a thing about people who don’t wash their hands after using the bathroom. Here was a group of people consuming food and drink in the shitter. The journey of less than 20 minutes felt like an overnight train to Inverness.
Cheltenham, we are told, is the greatest racing festival of the year so I dread to think what the worst one is like. Horses that all look the same, five foot tall jockeys who all look the same apart from different coloured clothes and thousands of shouty, badly dressed drunks. What a sight to be hold, if that’s your idea of fun. I’d rather visit the dentist, thank you very much.