Written by Claire Henderson
The Manchester University Horse Racing Society is a brand new society, set up just last year to bring together Manchester students who enjoy racing and everything that comes with it. The society aims to “provide an inexpensive, social and fun introduction to racing, with opportunities to meet new people, see new places, and gain an interest that could stick with you for life.” With contacts within the Horse Racing Industry and a relationship with Racing For Change, a company aimed at encouraging a wider participation in horseracing, the club organises trips to local racecourses and trainer’s yards, all at a fraction of the cost.
Horse racing often receives bad press deeming it expensive, elitist and exclusive. The Manchester Horse Racing Society hopes to completely dispel these rumours by encouraging everyone to come along and enjoy a fantastic, exciting and fun day out. You don’t need a tweed cap or feathered hat to come along and feel the rush as your horse crosses the finish line (or falls at the first hurdle).
The most recent trip was to Haydock Park Racecourse on the 19th February to see the Grand National Trail (formerly the Gold Cup). It was quite a sight to see 30-odd tweed-clad student race goers on the steps of the union. Thanks to good contacts, and a talented society president, we soon piled onto the bus, which had been negotiated into the £10 price for the whole day and were on our way.
After having the mechanics of betting explained to the new girls by some bemused looking punters and more experienced society members, many of us set our hopes on whatever had the most interesting name or the prettiest face. This highly hopeful betting was followed by the necessary screams and squeals as horses ran well, badly, or were just pipped at the post. While several pints were purchased with winnings, most of us just had to drown our sorrows and hope that the next race would be better. The free pie and a pint was certainly welcome in the chilly wind, warming us all up before heading back to see how our chosen horses were getting on (losing mostly).
As someone pretty new to racing, it was a really thrilling day with plenty of camaraderie no matter how your horses are doing on the track. It also offered a great opportunity for the fashion-centred among us to see some wonderful and some rather questionable outfits. It should be said that some race goers seemed to have forgotten that it was February and that no matter how pretty your dress is, if it leaves 50% of your skin bare, you will be very very cold.
With the club only in its infancy, we are actively looking to increase membership, and everyone is welcome. The race trips are a great day out whether you are a seasoned punter, or just fancy having a flutter and seeing the fashion – and of course the horses. Other events include exclusive tours of top trainer’s yards where you can see what goes on behind the scenes of preparing a racehorse for the track. Also in the pipeline are talks from racing experts and some fun society nights out.
More information on horse racing and how you can get involved can be found at http://www.lovetheraces.com/students/
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