Saturday Races

We stopped in Hastings Shopping Plaza coming home from surfing. It’s a little strip mall with a central food court.

Jack and the girls loved the kebab restaurant last time we were here. Ali Baba’s. We’d go weekly for a fix of red meat and hummus. This time, Jack parked Shareef’s car and went in to the food court. He came back with a big grin on his face.

‘Ali Baba’s is still there!’

I was glad for them, but not as excited as they were. Sitting in the plaza was always hot and windless. Yes, the food is good, but it’s still thirty quid good. Oh well – out-voted. Retreat to the Best of Barbados gift shop where you can browse soft toy baby turtles stuffed into pillows. Awesome.

Everyone was truly spangled after our late lunch. We drove along the south coast. The area is looking vibrant. The names of the neighbourhoods throwbacks to the UK’s south coast – Dover, Folkestone, Hastings and Worthing.

We rounded the corner and came up along the historic military district, The Garrison. Only to be faced with Bridgetown’s Saturday horse racing. Result! We veered Shareef’s car into the car park just by the track. Despite the crowds, there was still room to park. We checked the timetable. 5:15pm – the main race was due to start. Just over ten minutes away.

Jack and I went to place a bet. I waited in the queue while he had a quick word with a group of studied men holding pamphlets with circled horses.

Jack returned. ‘Ok, you choose one, I’ll choose one and for the third, we’ll go with their tip.’ He pointed at it: No. 3 Sparkle. ‘Sparkle to win, please,’ he said to the woman in the booth.

I balked. ‘To win? Are you sure?’ Jack has a history of losing bets. At least twice in the Grand National his horses have come in second. He’s called them to win. Long shots too.

‘Each way is surely safer,’ I said.

Head shook firmly. ‘We’ll do ours each way, but I want this one to win.’

I shrugged. There was no persuading him. Back on track, the race was about to start. We took in the scene. Bajans were sitting together, eating peanuts out of their shells, enjoying the late afternoon breeze. It felt like we’d entered a dream.

The horses were lined up in the starting stalls. A bang and the race started. Man, those horses can fly. Twice around the track and the race was done.

Jack took the girls and they went to the betting booth. They were gone long enough for Ellie and I to get excited.

Eventually they returned. We scanned their faces for news.

Lulu grinned at me. ‘Good news is your horse came in third. You made just over a fiver.’

I cheered. ‘Nice one!’

‘The bad news is that Sparkle came second.’

‘Seriously? Not again!’

Jack took my hand gently. ‘It just wouldn’t be horse racing if this didn’t happen.’

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