Some would say that horse racing is animal cruelty.
The "best of us" (please mind the quotes) would say that a horse has to be free, to roam the lands in search of his love and freedom. Make little horses, go to the mall, drive a small capacity station wagon (because he is a horse and he cares about the environment), go to a multinational job and eat only bio food.
Look, overzealous, animal rights activists. I've been to our Letea Forest (deep inside the Delta of Danube) where there are still wild horses roaming around, checking you out in packs, making you feel like you are in the Bronx during the '70s. They didn't look happy to me. Didn't look well fed at all, I'll tell you and for sure that their education sure did miss a thing or two.
Big headed, green and yellow and thin legs: those are aliens for sure
The small city with lots of horsing around
On Sunday morning, lots of people in my hometown, Ploiești, were gathering like socialist voters gather for freebies during an election. But there were no freebies being handed out. Quite the contrary. With the exception of the parking lot, you had to pay for everything that day: the admission ticket, the bad coffee, the sizzling hot "mici" taken from the barbeque (which are normally the freebies given out by the socialists to their voters). That is because on Sunday, after a long time of absence on the Racetracks of Ploiești, pure blood horses were the main actors and not the usual crowd that used to come here in the last 30 years just for the camping grills and the bad concerts the Socialists were throwing out in order to buy votes.
There's no perfect crowd without the mici barbeque smoking around
The story of the famous (in Romania) racetracks of Ploiești started around the '60s. That's when the communist leader at that time, took the decision to bring down the racetracks of Bucharest (North of the City) and put instead of it, the communist expositional pavilion, copied in terms of idea and habit from the "Chinese brothers". More than the need of having an expositional area for the emerging Romanian industry, the Racetracks HAD to be brought down. They were built by the former Romanian Royal Family and the whole idea of going to the races seemed to belong more to the aristocracy than the new, communist society those idiots were trying to implement. Nevertheless, they had to move the tracks a little bit North, to the city where I live as most probably they considered the habit a necessary one, together with soccer, a means of crowd control that they knew is handy for propaganda and controlled gatherings.
Not a lot of you know this but Romania was a pretty important country when it came to pure breed horses back then, in the '20s, when our first main racetrack was erected (on the model of Longchamps in Paris). Apart from Bucharest, Romania had a good history in the equestrian field and the centres from Iași, Galați, Brăila, Constanța apart from the one in Bucharest (and the Ploiești) were breeding pure bloodline of different races: Arabian, English, different big Romanian races.
The ticket...with the logos of the European programs accessed for the reconstruction
After 1990, the importance of the racetrack in Ploiești started to decline. Both because of the neglect of the authorities (which drove the location and its premises to degradation) and also because of the decline of the equestrian culture of the population. Life was hard and nobody really cared anymore about horses running on the tracks. The mayorship tried to do something by giving the tracks to an Italian company to administer it but after 3-4 years they realised they have no potential to do anything well. They were renting the locations for restaurants and in the park around it, there were, sometimes, bad quality festivals with bad quality concerts. Only transition period quality bullshit.
Later instead, the mayorship managed to access some European Regio Funds and invested in a modern building and facilities, which, after completion, stayed deserted because the idiots that made the plan didn't calculate some specific details that have to be taken into account when building an equestrian racetrack. 2-3 years passed until they managed to make the modifications, but, long story short, we are here today and this is the first important, international race we held after the modernisation of the place.
God knows I've been waiting for this.
No empty seats and mostly quality people: loved it
Racing for the money of "Manchester City" owner
So on Sunday, we had Dubai money here. It was one of the stages of some International Cup held and sponsored by non-other than Sheik Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the guy who owns Manchester City. Not the city, but the soccer team. Lots of Arabs here that day, different emissaries of this guy and his administration, together with some flight attendants from Emirates that were dressed in their usual uniform, giving an air of aristocracy to the whole event and the prizes.
Big hats, egos and money
On top of that, the fact that I saw good quality people, nicely dressed ladies with big hats (the pittoresque image I had about the tracks), different famous photographers and elegant dudes (even old guys), made me feel like this is going to bring back a certain elitist air into this, otherwise, forgotten, industrial city.
Emirates flight attendants - a touch of chic and wealth
There were 7 races. 6 for "the adults" and one for the Shetland horses (ponies) - not children but horses for children. An adult would break their back or they would look totally stupid on them. The races had a program so you could schedule your personal selection and not have to stay there if you were not interested in everything. That would come in handy if there were at least ONE (for God sakes please make one) betting office. I could bet and make the day more interesting.
REMINDER TO MYSELF: rent an office there to make a horse race betting agency (or even better, dress in a shady costume and pick up strangers to make black market betting).
Races and Horses
At the end of the racing day we left feeling a little bit more aristocratic (that's why I chose not to eat "mici" and ruin that feeling burping garlic), hopeful for a nice continuation and development of this tradition and a little more appreciative for the horses, their breeds and the dedicated people that make all of this happen.
There's always something majestic about horses and being around them. At least I get that feeling.
Grass and horse tracks