Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll know that currently due to COVID-19 horse racing is happening behind closed doors. This means that only essential people are allowed at the track and unfortunately owners aren’t considered to be essential. With The Velvet King running in the Roma Cup on Saturday, this meant I had to watch the races at home.
Now for some owners this might not be a big deal but for me it is. If we’re just looking at Ascot and Belmont (both weekday and Saturdays), in my racing lifetime, I’ve only missed my horses racing five times since graduating from high school (from memory). Once I was in hospital (which is a pretty valid excuse if you ask me), once I was on the way to a doctor’s appointment (after being in hospital), once I was at a wedding and twice it’s been too wet (though one of those times I did just sit in the car at Belmont overlooking the track). So, as you can see, I had a pretty good record. Even more impressively, I’ve never missed any of The Velvet King’s races (because he’s always raced in the city).
If you’re someone who knows me personally, or has seen me around at the track, then you’ll know that I have a pre-race routine (just one of my many superstitions I guess you could call it). I’ll usually arrive at the track a good hour and a half or so before the race (depending on who’s racing before that I’d like to see), get my lemonade, pick up my mounting yard pass and then head to the stalls. Obviously at home none of this happens and I usually just go about my day till race time. Whether it’s not having the routine or just not being able to see my horse before the race (if someone could live stream the security camera footage from the stalls that would be great), but I’m always way more nervous at home than I am at the races.
While in isolation somethings do stay the same though. Another one of my superstitions is that I like to wear the colours of the jockey’s silks. Side note though, it actually didn’t start as a superstition, I just thought it would look great in winning photos (which it does), but I guess it kind of is a superstition now. So, this week I wore a red top with black pants. The design on my nails this week also featured a horse with a red and yellow colour scheme (to match the silk colours).
About half an hour before the race, the nerves really start to kick in, the heart starts racing and my palms get sweaty. It’s basically downhill from there until they jump! Haha though at the races I’m usually hyperventilating by the time they jump but at least at home I’m on my ventilator so that doesn’t happen! Not being able to talk to Darren, the trainer, and Mitchell, the jockey, (in Saturday’s case) before the race also makes my nerves worst, because I can usually gauge how The Velvet King (or any horse) is going to go based on a trainer and jockey’s tone of voice and expressions/body language, etc. However, watching the races at home this weekend was slightly different though as thanks to Perth Racing’s “Perth Racing at Home” I got to watch the mounting yard coverage. This was slightly reassuring, and it was nice to see how good The Velvet King looked.
Another thing that stays the same at home is my style of watching, which I didn’t really realise until I thought I’d enter the Owners Only competition where you have to send them a video of yourself cheering your horse. I have a reputation for my winning videos (head to my Instagram if you want to see one), so of course my family videoed me on Saturday just in case. So, what’s my style you ask? I’m the silent watcher with the occasional commentary. I like to watch the races in silence so I can hear the race caller (which is maybe why I like my usual spot on the fence in the mounting yard by myself) but sometimes I’ll throw in the “he hasn’t jumped well”, “he’s too far back”, “he hasn’t got an cover”, etc. It’s only in the last 200m or so that I’ll start cheering if it’s a close race (how loud I am is probably determined by how close it is). If they’re way in front and going to win then I’m probably already crying but otherwise I’ll lose it straight after they cross the line (which unfortunately didn’t happen on Saturday).
As you can see though, watching the races at home in some ways is very different to at the track but then in some ways the same. Either way I definitely prefer the former and I can’t wait to get back to the track, I’m missing everyone, both horses and humans, like crazy! Let me know in the comments below how your routine/watching style has changed since watching the races at home.