Sunday, June 05, 2005

Epsom Derby Day

This was one event that I'd been waiting for since we began planning what we wanted to see and do in the early part of the 2005 English summer - The Epsom Derby Day!

The usual e-mail went out to friends all over London, and we managed to persuade Darren and Alison to join us - they'd never been to the races with us before, so we weren't sure what they'd think of us and what we get up to at the track..

But I figured all would be well when we met them at Clapham Junction train station, and Darren had with him a very full esky of champagne and Fosters cans in tow - we'd just visited the Clapham Station Sainsburys ourselves, and were loaded up with drinks and picnic food for a big day in the sun.

The Queen arrives at Epsom in her car, driven up the finishing straight; and The Queen on the big-screen

After the train trip out of London and into the very green Epsom area, we boarded a bus on arrival at our destination station for the 5 minute trip through the town to the amazing racecourse.. we made our way around the Queens Stand, and through a tunnel beneath the main straight to the centre of the course where The Hill, and our area for the day - The Lonsdale Area - was located, right opposite the main stand the with full view of the finish line and straight.. this is also where the traditional open-topped double-decker buses park so their occupants are up close to the track.

So after finding a picnic spot, we found ourselves sitting with a row of bookies behind us, and the inside running rail of the long cambered straight right in front of us, where we would soon discover the horses would thunder right past with only 150m to go to the line..!

Before the first race, we had Her Majesty the Queen arrive in her Bentley limo, driven into the course along the main straight and right to the front door of her grandstand - this was all very exciting with plenty of antipodeons just like us hanging over the rail giving her a wave and taking a few snaps, as you can see in the photos..

Later in the day we got some distant shots of her out on her balcony, watching the field being paraded in the winners circle before a race.. you couldn't miss her in that green outfit and hat!! In one of the shots you can also see all the gentleman in her stand, all wearing their 3 piece English morning suits and top hats, which is the minimum dress code if you're in that area - its surreal to see!

If you click on these 3 photos and open the full image, you can see the Queen in the centre of shot, on her own balcony in the Queens Stand - she's in the Lime Green dress and hat talking to the guy in the suit - and the photo below has her in the centre of shot again on her balcony, but in this one you can see all of the gentleman wearing their top hats!!

the view across the Lonsdale area inside the track where we were siting, over to the very packed 'The Hill' section in the middle; Alison and Carly sitting around our picnic

Darren and me get stuck into bottle number 3 of our champagne stockpile

Around the turn on the big screen in the feature race, the Epsom Derby; and our view of the home stretch, with race winner Motivator in the lead with 1 furlong (200m) to go!!

As the racing began it soon became clear that Alison seemed to be doing the best in the betting - but in the main race it all went to custard as we failed to tip Motivator as it won The 2005 Vodaphone Epsom Derby with everyones prediction, joint-favourite Gypsy King well back and out of the money..

Alison, Carly, and Darren - note the track and the inside rail right next to us - very close to the action! and a pic of me where you can tell that things are starting to get messy as we finish off our picnic drinks;

the winner of the Epsom Derby - Motivator; Carly, Alison, and Darren just before we head home

By that stage, ourselves and many others around us in the BYO section probably didn't care much who had won as we began the long trek back to London. As usual, Darren and I proceeded to turn on the aussie accents and chat with any poor soul who'd talk back to us on the way home, and our 9 foot long Vodaphone sponsors sign we had collected off the side of a stable building at the track was a good conversation starter as we hauled it on and off the 3 buses and long train leg of our trip back to Barons Court - where the fun continued..

Me, Carly, and Alison with that 9ft long Vodaphone sign we 'acquired' from the Epsom racecourse!

More drinks and music at our place afterwards - very messy..


Currently listening to: Oasis - Don't Believe the Truth (their first new album in a while)


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