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The improbable return of horse racing in Ukraine

I went to the races last week. It was a Tuesday, in Vincennes. I needed a good reason for that, I had it, my filly was running in third gear. There were three or four at the “owners’ entrance” to filter out free riders. Except there were no gate-crashers, landlords, or anyone. I played the game anyway, just that they don’t feel completely useless, which is depressing and can make you mean. So very polite: “Hello gentlemen, a friend is coming to join me at the stables, would you mind allowing her in when she shows up, please?” And they too play the game of mistrust, like we don’t let anyone in: “Mhm mhm… A friend? What name? What horse?… Do you have a card? (They pretend not to not recognize me or what? I take out my card). OK, that’s good, I note.” The cerberus in charge of the register records my friend’s name in his register. It’s a perfectly blank register, because no one entered today, not the slightest VIP, I’m the only owner to still risk myself on a Parisian racecourse.

The hall of scales is deserted. In front of the betting counters, two or three racegoers, shadows of themselves confirm the desertification of this haven of vice where once, a greedy and feverish crowd crowded, fearing not to have time to waste their money. Coming out of there, I meet two distributors of antigenic gel, half dilapidated, distressing, they implore me this ejaculatory pressure which would revive the old sanitary obligation of which they were the cops. I find myself outside, at the foot of the stands, and there, I am dizzy in front of this precipice of loneliness and nostalgia which offers me the vision of the empty bleachers.

The sounds and images of fifty years ago come back to me, the sweat, the cigarette smoke, the alcohol vapours, the inked hands of the Paris-Turf of the day before, covered with encrypted calculations, cabalistic palimpsests of personal statistics. I remember the friends, aggressive and uneducated, miserable and childish, we were peat, an asocial dregs, desperately full of hopes of fortune. The petty administrative heads of the racing institution dreamed of our extermination. Well here we are, that’s it. It’s so quiet that in front of the racecourse, on the old car park, as if to bring some life, travelers have been invited to pitch their caravans. They no longer travel, let alone on horseback. Women hang out their laundry, men watch football matches on TV, turning their backs on the first sport.

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News from the races in Ukraine

Where is Bruno who hackneyed his predictions at the entrance: “A very good deal in the pp-first! “? No one replaced him, nor Paris-Turf which isn’t even for sale anymore. If there’s a duck that’s died, it’s this one. Even those who still dig for “the old racing bible” know it, and know the name of whoever killed it.

To get good news from the races, you can count on the 24Hautrot site, which newsletters every evening, and free of charge, the essential and superficial news for trotters. The only one of all the press, to my knowledge, to inform us about the situation of horse racing in Ukraine. A unique report on the dangers they face, men and horses. The panic of the first days of war, when certain owners repatriated their horses, and others, conversely, brought them to the racecourse to put them in the shelter.

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Like that of Beirut in its time, the kyiv racecourse was spared. And this week, the good news, still on 24Hautrot : the races have resumed! Thanks to these people of unfathomable courage who are afraid to die, but place their passion for horses and races above that.


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