Day Trips11th October 2013
A Day at Bath Races
Seeking activities that are deaf friendly for families and groups, Sarah visited Bath Races for a Summer meeting. This is her story.
In a search for deaf friendly activities, SL First was delighted to team up with Bath Races to explore the Sport of Kings - horse racing. Our choice was a Friday evening meeting on the 1st August.
Communication between us and representatives of the course, could not have been better. Unlike some businesses, email was welcomed and I was able to find out information I needed quickly and easily.
Bath races lies above the picturesque and historic city and is easily accessed by road. Good signposting took us easily to car parking areas. The surrounding area has some lovely country pubs, so if you fancy catching a meal before getting to the course, or to there are plenty of good places to choose from.
We parked easily, and I was instantly struck by the quality of the signposting. It was clear and plentiful and wherever I wanted to go on course, I was able to follow signs to get there. I had pre-arranged tickets to make entry that little bit easier, but I need not have worried. The staff were warm, welcoming and patient, recognising that I was Deaf and working with me to ensure good communication.
As I entered the main areas of the course, I was struck by the vivid colours, lush green grass and the cleanliness. Horse racing is the sport of Kings and I felt Bath Races were upholding that tradition excellently. The facilities are family friendly and whether you are a seasoned race goer, here to enjoy the gambling, or a first timer looking to enjoy the spectacle, this race meeting suits your needs.
Having bought a 'small' jug of Pimms and freshened up after our journey to the course, I made my way to the saddling enclosure to see if my highly amateur eye might find an obvious winner. I had been advised to look at whether owners were present, as that can indicate the trainer has advised them to come along, because their horse has a good chance. As I was going to be betting a whopping £2 a race, it was important I did what I could to max out on my 'investment'.
I enjoyed watching these wonderful looking animals being prepared for the races. Some seemed highly experienced and stood there patiently whilst their saddle was applied, mouth washed and the tack inspected. Others seemed a little more on their toes, tapping away nervously on the stable floor as they were prepared for the race ahead. I loved how well these animals looked, coats gleaming, mane platted, ears pointing upwards and moving furtively to the sounds around them. Every horse looked magnificent and to my disappointment, every one looked worthy of winning a race.
We followed the horses into the parade paddock, where their connections waited expectantly. The horses walked gracefully in front of us, long legs effortlessly covering the ground. It sounds daft, but the horses looked happy and I waited anxiously for one of them to look me in the eye and give me the knowing (I’m going to win) wink. With no such indication I was forced to wait for the jockeys to arrive in the ring and make my choice based on the colour of the silks.
The jockeys filed into the parade ring and walked determinedly towards their trainer and owners. Adorned in an array of bright colours they had a quick chat with the trainer before the stable hand brought their horse to them. Despite their diminutive stature, one quick leg up and the jockey was aboard, feet in irons and immediately gaining control of their charge. The tension amongst the crowd seemed to change and I felt nervousness rising in me too. I have no idea why, but I was starting to feel excited, after all some unlucky jockey was going to be carrying the weight of my hard earned £2 investment!
I dashed down to the betting ring and for a moment stood and watched the tic tac men in operation, silently passing information from one end of the betting ring to the other. That all seemed a bit familiar and I smiled at how important silent communication is to the horse racing world.
The betting ring is highly visible these days, with lots of digital displays so that the names and prices of horses are easy to find. I made my investment with a simple point to my horse's name and the offer of my couple of coins and now things were getting really serious. The timing of the new Ferrari relied on this!
I could feel the tension in the crowd rise as the horses got to the starting gate and got ready to enter the stalls. I know the public announcement system was blurting something out, but I was able to see the horses going into the stalls on the course televisions. Suddenly, the gates opened and the pent up horse power in the stalls released in one huge wave of power. Urgently, I was looking for my colours, knowing that the combination of horse of jockey would do their best for me.
Excitement rising I tracked my horse in mid-field and as they started to come round the final turn into the straight I was well placed on the outside and I turned my attention from the TV screen to the horses themselves as they accelerated towards the finishing line.
Wonderfully, my horse started to mount a serious challenge and drew level with the leader with a furlong to go. Unknowingly, I found myself aboard my horse, pushing and pulling it towards the line. Half a furlong to go, my investment was still looking good, but far from 'home and hosed'. Just as I was forging ahead of the long time leader, a quick finishing number 9 came on the scene and with a well-timed run, it beat my horse by a short head.
The highs of triumph turned to disappointment in the matter of seconds, but my heart was pounding with excitement.
The rest of the race meet was equally exciting and entertaining. In between races we were able to look at the different food options, which ranged from sit down meals, to snacks and we plumped for a delicious pork and stuffing roll.
All in all, this was great entertainment, and a great family day out. Highly visual, I found the course and staff catered well for my needs and apart from public announcements, I don't think I missed out on anything else. I had a wonderful time, as did my family and it wont be long before I return. You can find out about all of the Bath race meets at www.bath-racecourse.co.uk
Article by Sarah Lawrence
posted in Entertainment / Day Trips
11th October 2013