Ireland day 0034. Monday 01 November 2021- Mugsgame
Today we just had one objective. To win back the €5 we lost at the Bellewstown races last month. We didn’t.
Well actually we didn’t just have one objective – we had several smaller ones as well. In the morning we continued our largely fruitless pursuit of PPS numbers – becoming somewhat more urgent now as we have been here longer than a month, and really do need to get Irish driving licences (which we can’t do without the elusive number). Then there were various admin matters related to banks, broadband and mobile phones, related to our latest address change. Plus the washing to do (although I resisted the temptation to get the shiny new hoover out again).
Once the chores had been dealt with, we could focus on the main task of the day – the Laytown Races. This particular sporting event had captured our imaginations when we heard about it at the Bellewstown race, the day after we arrived in Ireland. We slightly got the horseracing bug on that occasion and Laytown had a particular attraction in that it is the only one in Ireland (or the UK for that matter) that is run on a beach. We had visited Laytown shortly after Bellewstown and managed to find out that the next race there – postponed from September by Covid – was on 1 November.
So this afternoon, we hotfooted it to Malahide station and took the train 30km / 20m up the coast to Laytown. The train ride only takes 25 min but costs an eye-watering €15.50 return – which truly remarkably actually manages to make UK railways look cheap. The cost of the rail journey far outweighed the cost of the admission tickets and made our need to recoup our earlier gambling losses even more urgent.
There is presumably only a short window when the races can actually be run, as the beach disappears under the sea at high tide. Given the time pressure, the sheer quantity of infrastructure that had been installed to create a pop up racecourse – gates, fences, cafes, stands, hospitality tents, camera sets and enclosures – was impressive. There was a good turn out after 2 years with no event; possibly as many as 2000. It was all completely outdoors so felt relatively virus-safe (famous last words!), and there was a great atmosphere.
Val made a bee-line for the betting stands and put €5 each-way on the hot favourite, Rocky Dreams, in the first race. It came last. The next race we skipped but I placed a fantasy bet on no. 4, Thaleeq. It won. Confident of my skill and mastery of the sport, I put €10 each way on Pimstrel in the second-last race of the day. It didn’t even place, so that was tonight’s drinking money down the drain. At that point we decided to cut our losses and head for home; although to be fair we were also frozen stiff after 3 hours largely motionless in the biting wind.
So altogether an expensive but very enjoyable day out a pretty unique Irish event. I just need to make sure I don’t get carried away on Grand National day. Down that path lies ruin.
Today’s photos (click to enlarge)