Tuesday, 21 December 2010
And the award for starving oneself and beating a horse goes to .....
The thing is, try as I might to fight the bias, I simply hate horse-racing. Every now and again I feign an interest in the Grand National, or even Cheltenham at a stretch, but if the truth be told I loathe the sport. It seems to me to have more to do with gambling than competition.
Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate that jockeys are fearless, skilled, highly conditioned athletes. But then Celine Dion’s a good singer. It’s what you do with your abilities that counts.
Eating less food than a famine stricken tribesman in order to beat a horse with a stick, to me, is a fairly poor use of one’s talents. Particularly when no-one has the faintest interest in your endeavours, unless they have money on it.
Seriously, does anyone watch horse-racing for the sheer joy of the spectacle? I’d imagine such fans are few and far between. It’s down to Barber jackets at the race-track, or desiccated old men shuffling between a grotty public house and an even grottier bookmakers, to watch the vast majority of races.
Why else would meetings take place mainly in the afternoon and on perfectly ordinary weekdays if they were anything more than a depressing and vaguely seedy subculture?
Looking at it rationally, it’s certainly not valid to argue that horse-racing doesn’t constitute a sport. Of course it does. But, at a gut level, I still feel that the whole business is the enemy of everything that's good about other sports. Horse racing is the filler which used to dominate hours of Grandstand, because the BBC didn't have the rights to decent events.
It’s what the barflies in Irish League social clubs, who never make it out to the match, watch. It'll cause an almighty argument when the real supporters come in to see half-time scores. Horse-racing, to me, is the preserve of bitter little men with a fistful of beaten dockets and too little to fill up their day.
So, no, I can’t possibly celebrate the achievements of Tony McCoy.
It’s the blindest, most unreasonable prejudice, but I despise his sport and everything associated with it.