Racing People are a real mixture. It’s always been that way, at least from what I can gather from my occasional amateur digs into racing’s history. From royalty to riff-raff, they were all welcome on the turf, though used to be kept well segregated, apart from the betting ring of course but that’s for another blog.
In recent years there has been talk of racing not being inclusive. I’m not sure that was ever a problem. Despite the really cheap rings vanishing, luckily most people can still afford to go racing. The more expensive the enclosure was the better heeled that attended. There were extra measures to try and keep the monied ruffians out that have now been largely phased out too. I remember the sale of ties at the entrance to Newbury Members where they were compulsory, even to people wearing Hawaiian shirts. I always thought it a bit daft, assuming a tie would assure good behaviour, especially if you just sold it to them.
There are still a few courses holding out with dress codes, and of course Royal Ascot that just say you’re not coming in unless you are well connected. That appears to work though, I’m told that there’s no bad behaviour in that enclosure. Elsewhere I have seen some fearsome scraps between the suited and booted, excuse the pun, true the suits are often shiny but they’d made the effort. This isn’t about scrapping either, that’s been covered in other blogs.
Back to the second paragraph, racing has been trying to get the inclusive message out there for years. There have been various suggestions as to how to get people that may feel they’d not fit in, or be made welcome take the plunge and go racing. I’d say that it has been successful, my local tracks Newton Abbot, Taunton and Exeter nearly always have large crowds. That crowd is of a wide demographic and includes what would have been unthinkable half a century ago, builders (tradesmen) hosting boxes in prime positions, kids from state schools being given a guided tour or the weighing room and people not having to wear ties anywhere.
Then you have the top meetings, where of course people converge in their masses, once again there is a very wide range of people that love a day at the races. Racing is seen as a day out, for many the sport is secondary to letting their hair down and having a bloody good time. For many that good time includes having a few drinks. That’s not lost on racecourses, you won’t find yourself far away from a bar at big meeting. The prices punters are charged for the privilege of a turf-side half a dozen pints doesn’t seem to deter them. When there’s copious booze other shenanigans often follow.
I’m told that at a recent Saturday meeting, lifetime bans were dished out for various drink and drug offences as well as to a copulating couple going hammer and tongs in the Ladies loos. That sort of behaviour might sound like the best party you never got invited to for some but is generally frowned upon.
In recent years we’ve seen mass brawls, drug taking with apparent impunity and urinating from balconies and a whole host more antisocial antics. Quite rightly there have been a few articles written and tut tutting on social media and elsewhere. This weekend though, we really got to find out what rattles racing twitter’s cage. What really grips their shit, what gets those that love to post angry posts incandescent with rage ….
People they consider posh.
It was pointed out by one twitter commentator that their poshness was the very reason that Chris Hughes and the ITV team decided to interview young lads. I’m sure it was, we all love an eccentric in racing, don’t we? These guys were wonderful characters, extremely well spoken and polite, wearing not everyone’s taste in clothes, they were having a wonderful harmless time and made fantastic TV. They were very unlikely to drop the F-Bomb as that inebriated woman did when broadcast crashing Matt Chapman earlier in the year at Doncaster. They just appeared to be very nice lads from what appeared to be schools that taught them to speak nicely, taking a break from the local agricultural college.
"The atmosphere is amazing – everyone's enjoying themselves, we're enjoying themselves"@chrishughes_22 is out and about meeting some of the racegoers, but something tells us he won't be taking hairstyle tips from these gents 😁#ITVRacing pic.twitter.com/e0ytbdDpUf
— ITV Racing (@itvracing) November 12, 2021
The tirade that their appearance attracted on social media were astonishing . Why? Because they were well spoken and wore tweed, the homemade haircuts a bonus. There is absolutely no way that those sorts of comments would have been acceptable even by most people posting them had they been from any other part of society. Even other people of a similar background were having a pop at the ‘poshness’ of them. I said on twitter it was hate, probably a bit strong, but certainly horrible.
I’m hoping that those same comments would be water off a tweed jacket for that trio of likely lads should they ever have seen them – too ‘posh’ for such social media nonsense with any luck. Let’s hope they do well at Uni, their lives and continue to come racing and contribute to the rich fabric of humanity that makes up the sport.
Here’s a prediction, if they do stay in racing, none of those three will ever been seen on a racecourse battering each other with plastic chairs.
Views of authors do not necessarily represent views of Star Sports Bookmakers.
Simon Nott is author of: Skint Mob! Tales from the Betting Ring
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