Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Nicosia Races...

First things first I must wish Happy Birthday to Trevor who is 50 today (November 7th) and who is away on holiday celebrating with Vix and if my blog statistics are correct they have been keeping in touch with the blog whilst away so should see this.

Today we were catching up with our Stalkers, Bill and Wendy.  We got up early, John put his tools in the car and we set off with a very long piece of curtain rail hanging out of the car as John was going to put this up in Wend and Bill's house so that they can curtain off the front door and stairs when they are over in the Winter.  It was a very nice and a very quiet drive along the motorway to Pissouri and this time we managed to get there direct without having to ring for directions!  Strangely it is also Wendy's sister's 50th birthday today poor thing, sharing it with Trevor - not that she knows him!!

Wendy and Bill had arrived late last night so had had little chance of much of a sleep before we two pitched up but they were up and about and whilst John and Bill did the DIY Wendy and I sat outside on their beautiful balcony with its beautiful view and caught up on all that had happened since we saw them last.

We had some instructions for Nicosia Racecourse from the Internet and I designated Bill as the co-pilot because I reckoned if he went wrong then John was less likely to shout at him than if I managed to get us lost.  We were a bit concerned because the instructions only took as as far as a Honda garage because the writer was quite honest when he said he only went as far as the Honda garage but that the racecourse was just down the road.  What he didn't say was that there was also a UN border checkpoint for the North just down the road and for some reason we managed to get funnelled down a line of bollards and were heading across the border before John managed to find a gap in the bollards and did a quick U Turn - we are probably on a list of Cyprus's most-wanted now!!!  Apart from that little escapade we managed to find the course and a little taverna just down the road where we managed to get a pretty decent souvlaki lunch to set us up for the day.

Entrance into the racecourse is free of charge as are the English racecards which you can pick up at the gate (or print off from the website in advance as we had done) and there are quite a number of places to eat where the food looks pretty reasonable and big bonus, the bar doesn't over charge for drinks.

We decided where we were gong to stand whilst the sun was out and it was still warm and then we armed ourselves with our racecards and made our way to the parade ring to watch the first lot of horses being taken round.  The first race was at 2.30pm and in total there were 10 races taking us into the realms of flood-lit running as it gets dark by 5.00pm.  

Having been before John and I had opted to go for an 'omni' bet on each race where you make two selections to occupy two of the first three places in a race. There are three winning combinations and if your selections both finish in the first three, in any order, you win.  An omni bet is just €2 so even with ten races we were hardly going to be betting away a fortune!

At the parade ring we stood next to a Cypriot woman and her husband and little grandson who told us that they were interested in horse number four and that was because they owned it and it was in its first race, so we took extra interest in that one which was called Royal Prince and cheered it all the way home as it looked like it was going to win - even though none of us had actually put any money on it.

We stayed outside for about the first four of the races, going to watch them parade before placing our bets then running up the stairs to the corner near the finish line and shouting our horses round.  As the afternoon wore on we decided we would make our way up into the bar area where we had a good view of the course and, as the sun went down, it was much warmer.  Had we been smart we would have positioned ourselves on one of the outside tables at the top from the outset because from there you could see everything, it was sheltered and you got table service from the bar - we shall know for another time!! 

There was lots of serious studying of the racecard by Bill and John, selections made and then minds changed before bets placed. Wendy and I on the other hand went for the less technical method of going by the colour of the silk or name of the horse although neither method brought a great deal of success but provided lots of entertainment and we always cheered enthusiastically at the finish line!!!

Inside the bar area it was warm and cosy and there was the added advantage of television screens to watch the replay of the race just run or races from the UK!  We were attended by a rather scary Polish girl who was dressed a bit like Madonna in her Jean Paul Gaultier conical bra days and who was very precise in her timings - our drinks would be seven minutes and then when she delivered them the wine would be four minutes as it had to come from somewhere else.  We didn't argue as Bill though she might wrestle for the WWF in her spare time!

As the racecourse was fairly busy and we were unsure as to exactly how to find our way back to Pissouri without going via Turkey we decided to leave after the eighth race.  Bill had pushed the boat out with a €6 bet and we had to hand around as we thought his horse had won but there was a stewards enquiry and a photo finish before it was confirmed that he had been successful and he went off to collect his €30 winnings.  Let's just say that he and Wendy were a darn sight more successful than John and I but we all really enjoyed our day.

It was an uneventful drive back and we rounded off our trip out with an evening meal in Pissouri - opting for the Hideaway just behind the main square.  This is a charming restaurant and one which we have not been to for ages.  Bill celebrated his good fortune with one of the largest pork chops I have ever seen and paid for our meals which was extremely kind of him!!  How fantastic to be able to walk down to the square and sit outside even though it is November.  It was a good start to their holiday!

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