Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Carhart v. Barbour

At the Far Hills Steeplechase Saturday - a muddy-medley of cultures colliding at the porta-potties; there only incidentally for the love of horses, most for betting, all for the drinking.

The majority gathered under one-room tents, a pick-up flanking the enclosure's back-side and ramparts of beer cases. This was a drinking event first-and-foremost - tail-gating vs race-attending. Clothing was utilitarian, layered, Carhart.

Atop the hill, the event's sponsor, Mercedes, had a series of wedding tents with garlanded chairs. Innapropriately-dressed corporate invitees listed into the sodden ground with drinks clenched. In a location farthest from the races, the horses – the sponsors indicated only a passing interest in the event. Within the Mercedes compound, the gathered turned away from the action, inwards around the bar in uncomfortable clutches.

Middle-tier were the country-folk: feigning squiredom in wellingtons and barbour jackets, patina-ed, range rover-driving, and implying authentic with every single malt, wishing they could just loose the hounds and be done with everyone else. These were the people of the tent R had been invited to - a corporate sponsorship of long enough standing (it appeared) that we were, in fact, there for the racing and actually track-side). The tent split itself nicely between the busy work of warming by drinks and watching the races themselves.

Steeplechase means the horses jump (over streams, hedges and gates). We saw some of this. Thrilling seeing the horses, the jockeys in their colors and skinny bow legs, the bugle call to start. I dressed silly/faux-equestriann part for the day and, for a few hours, was that Greenwich-girl who'd segued from horses to tennis to field hockey to just plain being insufferable, but with a wardrobe for every sport.

Fun, muddy, involving horses, red blazers and not at all like other Saturdays.

Now to learn to ride.


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