Groomed to a lustrous finish the magnificent creatures pranced on the grass, their silky skin gleaming over well-toned bodies. Glossy manes flicked through the air as they aimed the occasional playful nip at one another… and that was just the race-goers.
This was Cape Town’s biggest horse race, the J&B Met, where the glamour is undeniable – the tents, the canapés, the TV crews… enough to bring fifty thousand people flocking to Kenilworth race course each year. Conversations are constantly interrupted by squeals of “ooh look” as a new celeb is spotted or another outrageously flamboyant outfit saunters past. And I’ve never seen so many good looking people in one place.
There was the sense of an unofficial programme for the singles being passed in whispers… “Here comes Lover Boy, out of Kiss Me Quick by The Milkman. A smooth mover lurking in the shadow of stable-mate Roving Eye, well-known for his series of conquests this season. Nonetheless one to watch out for – could well go the distance….”
It’s funny really – the race was apparently started by English soldiers wanting to impress the girls, and years later everyone is still pretending that it is all about culture and society when clearly the underlying aim is to get the person you have a crush on to be stirred to a frenzy of lust by the pounding hooves and heaving breasts and sweating flanks of the horses. If that doesn’t work there’s always the booze.
Tottering past the stilt walkers and the belly dancers I found myself drawn to the main stage where the competition for Most Elegantly Dressed Couple was in danger of holding up the races. The entrants were still mincing around the stage as, a stirrup’s throw away, the horses were being paraded before the Fancourt Majorca Stakes. But this was Cape Town and no-one seemed to mind too much except perhaps Gavin Rajah who, as one of SA’s leading designers, had apparently appealed for ‘more couture and less circus’. Clearly he didn’t stand a chance.
The theme this year was plum and metallic. Luckily, as my sweet husband pointed out, I had a large spot brewing on my chin which was maturing nicely to fulfil both of those credentials. I pulled my hat a little lower and retired to the relative cool of the tent where, as a guest of advertising gurus Lowe Bull, I was invited to make use of a free bar and an endless supply of canapés. It was a far cry from the English race meets I’ve gone to where we’d take shelter from the rain in the boot of the car, huddled round a flask of soup. But I thought I could probably cope.
I had intended to do the racing thing properly – cast a beady eye over the horses, study the form, kick the ground a bit in a knowing fashion and all that… but frankly I was a little unsteady in my heels. So I settled for plan B – gazing at the list of names until one glowed with meaning and the promise of untold riches. But even this method, faultless though it was, was hampered by the glass I had in one hand and the vol-au-vent in the other which meant the pages of my programme kept sticking together. Yet again salty snacks proved my downfall and I was just too slow to place the bet on Pocket Power that would have netted me a cool R 13.70.
Never mind, there’s always next year. And next time I’ll know to cleanse and tone and buff and polish for weeks beforehand. And maybe lay off the vol-au-vents.