My husband and I want to experience and immerse ourselves in all that our little town and community has to offer, so we were looking forward to attending the annual horse races with the Braidwood Jockey Club.
This was a first for both of us. The closest we have been to a racing track was to watch on television the 'Melboune Cup', the biggest horse racing event in Australia. We had no idea how to place a bet or even what to expect of the day!
As the day dawned the weather report was looking dire, the heat was expected to be between 37 and 40 degrees Celsius at Braidwood (98 to 104 Fahrenheit). Due to the extreme heat many sports over the state were cancelled, as were many larger horse racing events but after discussion with New South Wales racing stewards the Braidwood meet went ahead. The club committee moved the event to a twilight meeting to avoid the worst heat of the day.
It is not unreasonable that people were concerned but I simply can not imagine an owner or trainer would put an expensive thoroughbred race horse’s life in danger for the small prize money from a country meet. I trust these people know what is best for their animal and the attending vets would be watching carefully for any signs of heat stress, both before and after their run. If a vet reports a horse is ill or sustained an injury after a race, for its health and safety, there is an automatic ban for it from any further racing for a minimum of 3 months. That is a lot of race meets and potential prize money to lose.
We sat near the stables and saw every horse arriving. They were magnificent, a picture of health, well hydrated, not sweating or showing heat stress.
Each horse was hosed down upon arrival.
Then placed in their shaded stall until they were taken to the saddling paddock, where they were kept in the shade.
Many years ago a friend owned an ex race horse. ‘Bay’ just lived to run, the moment he has a chance he would take off. I doubt Bay was a one off in this matter. I think many animal activists don’t understand this about these horses. While I agree they may not choose to voluntarily run in extreme heat but once in that starting box the instinctual urge to run must be great for a horse bred for racing.
After the race, they came straight off the track and again, not one of the horses looked exhausted or stressed. The horses were unsaddled and immediately led off to the wash bays where they were hosed down and watered. There were no reports to the stewards of heat stress experienced by any horse that competed during the course of the evening.
I discovered race day fashion on the country field is no less fiercely contested by the girls as a big city meet. There was 17 categories for the stylish to show off their finery.
Even the children paraded their fashion flair!
Number 12 was the overall winner of women's Fashion on the Field for the day.
We quickly learnt how to place a bet with the bookies.
It was so painless going back to the bookie to collect our winnings! Winners are grinners! Even better was winning on a locally trained horse "Little River Road'.
The bar area is always a popular place to hang out on a hot day. Note the majority of the guys took a more casual approach to fashion on the field.
Six of the twelve jockeys were women, that's girls power!
We had a lovely day with friends in a relaxed, friendly atmosphere and we are anticipating attending as many events as our little country town has scheduled for this year.