Brilliantly Blue – Horse Racing in Udon Thani
Intergames Park Udon Thani
Horse racing at Udon Thani’s Intergames Park is a great way to spend a weekend afternoon. Yesterday Wonderful Wi and I took a trip there arriving midday, half an hour before the first race.
Already a large crowd of racegoers had gathered and were picnicking and listening to loud music booming from the PA system. The classic golden-oldie ‘Yellow River‘ bellowed through, closely chased by ‘Rivers of Babylon‘ and then bringing up the rear, the Bee Gees big hit ‘Massachusetts‘.
The music was awful, and the PA controller was one of two, a Thai clone of The Joker or Jim Carrey on crystal methamphetamine (speed). I didn’t know whether to jab my lucky race pin into the form guide or prick both my ears. For good measure, and the love of God knows who, ‘Rivers of Babylon‘ blasted into the oppressive afternoon air again. I visibly shrank, sweated tears, and in the grandstand Jesus tapped his toes and wept.
We planned to stay for the first six races and bet 400 baht (US$13) on each one. We would pocket all winnings and hopefully trot away in profit. After the first three races we were about even, and just before the start of the fourth race, Wilai executed her masterstroke. She’d been carrying a screwed-up black plastic shopping bag with her ever since we’d left our hotel, and with the kind of smile only a Thai lady can shine, she offered me its contents.
‘Hus….band you want bol…low (borrow) my by…knockers (binoculars)’.
Well-to-do racegoers at England’s famous Royal Ascot racecourse carry binoculars worth hundreds, and sometimes, thousands of pounds. These were brilliantly blue, budget-beating plastic and bought for 80 baht (£1.70p) at Nong Khai’s Thasadet Market. If you squinted real hard, you could just make out your feet through them. With poise, dignity and a solid lump of polish, I offered my best well-dressed reply;
‘No thanks, I want to watch the race’.
That confused her and wounded a little too. Horse racing is a callous business.
Udon Thani’s race meetings are very professionally run and a great fun day. All bets are via the Tote kiosks, and we walked away, having lost around 500 baht. Nonetheless, very satisfied with our afternoon’s entertainment.
If you like a day at the races, a bit of a flutter, or are simply a Jeff Christie, Bee Gees, or a Rastafarian music fan who’d like to photograph Jesus crying, you’ll love Intergames Park. Entrance to the racecourse is free, and there are food and refreshments on sale everywhere.
That was our third visit to the racetrack, and we had a brilliantly blue afternoon.
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