Tuesday, July 26, 2011

York Races (in which Church Music pays off)

In early June I helped organise a work event that took place in Blackpool, UK, about 3 hours northwest of London.  This is where the second UK location of my company is located.  Myself and the office manager from Blackpool coordinated our efforts to prepare for a company-wide business plan presentation.  But the day wasn't all work and no play - after the successful presentation, we all hopped on a coach bus to travel to York, to enjoy a day at the races.

One of my colleagues who works in Blackpool was down in our offices doing some work the week prior to the races. He brought me the newspaper page dealing with Friday's races, showing the stats of the various horses.  I took one look at the first race and saw a horse named "Church Music."  

"Church Music!  Victor - this horse.  This is the horse for me.  He's going to win.  Is it a he or a she?"

"That's highly unlikely."

"No seriously, Church Music."

"It's a very young horse.  It's never won a race before."

"Church.  Music."


On the coach ride to York, Victor was working out the odds on the various horses in preparation for the day.  He gestured me over.

"Hilary.  Church Music is the second favourite to win."


"::rolls eyes:: ...That's not a good thing!"


"That means if you bet on him, and he wins, you won't make that much money."

"Yeah, but... you told me 'not likely' and now he's the second favourite.  Who called it??"


I had never been to horse races before, and of course betting is legal here (and a big deal), so it did make for an exciting day.  We were in the gorgeous Ebor Restaurant, which takes up the whole of the fourth floor and has floor-to-ceiling windows with a great balcony for taking in the races.  Basically, we spent the whole afternoon eating the unbelievable multi-course buffet, including a seafood bar, carved meats, potatoes and hot vegetables, cheeses, desserts, and an open bar.  It was great - eat something, watch a race.  Have a plate of food, watch a race.  Investigate dessert, watch a race.  Wait... they just put out afternoon tea??  I wanted to take a pic of the beautiful venue but it seemed a little gauche.  

All of my colleagues were getting in on some of the fun, and betting on the horses to varying degrees.  My table had a pool going - everybody put in £10, and we guessed a winner for each race.  You got five points if your horse won, three if it came second, one if it came third.  I was in second place for a while but ended up losing to my worthy fellow office manager.  :)

The ladies I work with - getting ready to watch the first race.
So, the first race came up, and I told Victor I wanted to bet £5 on Church Music.  Well, really, I held up five 1-pound coins and said "can I bet just this much?"  He rolled his eyes at me (I think he needs to get that checked out) and said "you can bet however much you want!"  So off he went to be my bookie.

The race was a short one, one furlong.  Everybody crowded out to the balcony to watch the race.  The finish line is, of course, right front and centre of the observation areas, and they move the starting line back depending on how long the race is.  It really does get so exciting as the horses come down the stretch - especially with the longer races, people hardly seem to be paying attention as the race starts and the horses are way far away, but once they hit the home stretch, people go wild, screaming and calling out for their favourite.  So, the horses came thundering down the track, and who won by half a length?


That's right - I put my money on Church Music and won.  I bet £5, and came out with 15!

Victor will never doubt me again.

Toward the end of the afternoon, our boss came and presented me and my fellow office manager with enormous bouquets of flowers, to thank us for our work preparing for the presentation day!  Wow!

On the train ride home from York, I saw a really beautiful rainbow:

 What fun!  Not sure I'll be putting money down on anything else any time soon, but it was a fun day to be a part of!

Flowers for my behind-the-scenes work.  Very beautiful... but very difficult to carry home for four hours.

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