Sunday, 16 July 2017

1 July A day at the races

When we went to the races in Port Louis we left our dinghy at the Coast Guard dock.
There is a race meeting every Saturday afternoon during the winter at the Champs du Mars course in Port Louis. We'd heard about it from other cruisers and were interested to see ourselves (my family are keen followers of horse racing in the UK). With Jackie and Gary (Inspiration Lady) we caught the 11am express bus from Grand Bay to the bus station in Port Louis and walked through Chinatown to reach the course. For men the entry fee is Rp200 (£4.50), ladies free. Walking through the entrance we were given a cheerful 'bonjour' from a gentleman who introduced himself as Lalah, Controlee (or guest co-ordinator). As visitors to Mauritius he could offer us complimentary use of a box for the afternoon. Would we be interested? There was no hesitation in the round of yes pleases. It wasn't for our exclusive use, there would be others joining but so much better to be on the third floor, 100m from the finish line with comfortable chairs and a steward to bring drinks should we wish.
Champ du Mars course

the stands

1400m start
The first race was at 12.30 and I had plenty of time to buy a race card and talk a walk to find the parade ring. Jackie, Gary and David stayed in the box sipping a cold beer and watching the growing crowd. The course is not big. The setting is dramatic with the city and the harbour away to the west and volcanic peaks to the east. Half way through the afternoon Lalah came to see us to ask if we'd like to meet the General Manager and visit the parade ring afterwards. It seems people who are sailing around the world are a novelty.
David, Gary and I went and enjoyed a very nice chat. He told us this course is the oldest in the southern hemisphere, begun by the British at the beginning of the 19th century, and the third oldest in the world after England and Ireland. All the horse we were seeing today were imported from South Africa, many of the jockeys too, and the horses were stabled and trained at this track. I noted half the trainers were South African too. After our meet we went to the paddock and watched the parade before the next race. Gary choose the horse that was smiling as his winner. And the happy horse was the winner! Why read form books when you can read equine expressions?
It was a lovely day out; very different to our normal life as cruisers, a day to put on a nice frock and take time to enjoy a leisurely afternoon.

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