Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Race That Stops A Nation

As the gorilla states welcome to Royal Ascot Goat Races! Not sure what connection the gorilla has to a goat race but perhaps all of the inflatable goats were already hired for the weekend.

Upon hearing about the yearly event we knew there was no way we would miss this important day in the goat calender. The day dawned bright and sunny, perfect conditions for the important preparations the goats go through before their big race. According to the MC on the day, the goats train at high altitude. Uganda can be a strange place so wouldn't put this past them!

Jen and I complete with fascinators

Classy girls - with beer

A reject from the Fashions On The Field competition

We really didn't know what to expect but the set-up was quite impressive. The first race is called and bets are frantically being placed. The marshalling area is full with 10 goats, each having their handler and the owners waiting anxiously trackside. On your marks . . . get set . . . GO! And no goat moves. Kind of a problem, being a race and all.

The track, small but goats only have little legs

How do you know if goats are nervous?

This has obviously happened in previous years so there is a back-up plan. And they're off, running as fast as their little legs can carry them. Occasionally they decide to stop, having a nibble of the grass on the track, looking around with slightly confused expressions. Don't blame them really, I also wondered why we were all yelling at a bunch of goats who clearly would prefer to be going through the rubbish bins.

And the race finally begins

The secret weapon. A mattress on wheels of course!

As the mattress on wheels forces the goats around the track, it seems the name of the day should be Goat Push as opposed to Goat Race. They really have no option but to walk and they build up to a run as the guy pushing the mattress decides to have a little jog. This tends to happen in the final straight, clearly to build excitement in the crowd.

Complete with a fashion competition and fireworks, my first official goat race was not disappointing. Will have to keep an eye out for other animal races. Pig races anyone?

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