|Every Goat Race had a starting bugle - nice touch|
|Stefan, Annika and Tom track side|
|Track side to see the action up close|
Okay, this is getting too long. But I wanted you to to get a feel for the entire holiday weekend. So on to the actual Goat Races.
Race Day One was held in Mt Pleasant. We decided we wanted the FULL experience aka we didn't want to miss anything so we departed our boats around 11:30AM, even though we know nearly all things start on island time and the locals don't show up until much, much later. We caught a P car (private car) ride for $40 TT total- normal price....good to know there wasn't price gouging with this big event. He dropped us off 20 min. later.
The paddock lies back to the left of the finish line. Convenient as the goats automatically run straight for the paddock after each race It consisted of three tents where the goats were tied up (loosely and comfortably) and the jockeys and owners/trainers were preparing... er.... strategizing....er.... resting....er..... relaxing.....er...chilling. We had a chance to visit the goat paddock and hang out a bit. The previous week we met a owner/trainer. Blundy has a two year old goat. He gets up each morning at 5 am to train with the goat. They walk, run and swim as part of the standard training. These goats are specially breed for racing. They cost anywhere from $2000 to $6000 TT. They are extremely tall. However, one local gave us the tip to look not only for a tall goat but also a long legged, fit runner as well when picking a winner. Ah ha. The goats are trained to run straight and fast. The owners are also the trainers and some have many goats. Sonny Murry, long time owner/ trainer had a goat in each class and a total of 10 competitive goats according to one video clip we saw about Goat Racing. The jockeys are very fit, very fast island guys that have a tough training program as well. Most racing goats are male. I am not sure why. Blundy had a few jokes to explain why but he admitted he didn't really know why. The jockeys are male too but there was one female jockey race and these women were just as fit and fast as the guys.
The rest of the grounds were filled with tents/booths of food, drinks and goodies of all sort to eat. As well as booths with an abundance of things for kids to get their parents to buy for them - aka - balloons, kites, sparkly wind catchers, bubbles, face painting, games, a bouncy house, etc....it was very much a family atmosphere.
However, the main focus was the racing. I say racing because aside from Goat Racing, there was also foot races. Both boys and girls. It was a great way to get the kids involved and give us a look at the future Goat Jockeys. One type of race in particular captured our attention. It combined running and math. I think they called it the Computation Race. The racers were given 8"x 10" chalkboards. At the other end of the race track there was a large blackboard with several numbers written on it. The children had to run down to the big blackboard, add up the figures and then race back to the finish line. It simply was not enough to be fast, they had to get the math problem right as well. Truly ingenious! One race no one had the right answer the first time so they all raced back down to the big chalkboard again for another try. We watched three different age groups do this type of race.
But the Goat Races are what we really came for. We paid $20 TT for a race day program. Despite lacking a pen/pencil, we followed along, scrutinizing the goats and jockeys in each class as they passed in front of us on the way down to the starting gate. We each picked our goat to win and waited as they got set in the starting gate, anticipation building. Many people gather along the wood fence track side to get a good view and take pics. Those of us in the stands stood, peering down the 100 meter track for the start. Like all famous racing there was bucking and tussling in the starting gates and a few false starts, but for the most part, the gate keepers and jockeys did a good job. The commentators kept us informed with the play by play.
|Tall race goats|
|Go, go, go, go, go, gooooooooooooo|
|Women's Jockey Goat Race|
|Steeple Chase? No, just a different start without the gate|
Twelve Goat Races total were held day one. There were sponsors for each Goat Race and price money which varied by class and race. The highest being race 13 with $10,000 TT for first place, $2,700 TT for second and $2,500 TT for third. Not too shabby.