My wife recently asked if I would be interested to explore the British horse racing culture. Given that she would make all the necessary arrangement including the tickets, I had no reason not to immediately accept her offer.
To be honest, I have never been to any racecourse in Hong Kong nor doing betting there. The only experience I had was attending a Raceday Banquet at the Happy Valley Racecourse.
She ended up buying tickets for the Summer Sounds event of the Royal Windsor Racecourse, held on end of June. Despite the £30+ family ticket was a little bit expensive, it already covered access to all the public areas, food stalls as well as the music show after the race, which I considered quite reasonable as a full-day event for the family.
Last but not least, it also bundled with four ice-cream cones.
太太最終訂購了六月尾 Royal Windsor Racecourse 的 Summer Sounds 活動，三十多鎊的家庭門票有點貴，包含進出一切公眾設施，草地，食檔及賽事完結後的音樂表演，作為一整天的節目也不算過份。
To get to Royal Windsor Racecourse by car, the most direct way was via A308. While I was closed to the Sunbury Cross Roundabout, the in-car real-time navigation system suggested to go on M3 / M25 motorways to avoid traffic jams. However, the truth was that the traffic was nearly came to halt when I just entered the M25. This was not the first time similar situations were encountered and probably I should avoid going on M25 whenever possible.
We finally arrived at the Maidenhead Road entrance of the Royal Windsor Racecourse in slightly over an hour. By following instructions from the staffs, I parked my car in one of those extremely big free parking lots near the entrance.
開車到近 Royal Windsor Racecourse，最簡單是走 A308 直達馬場。正當駛至 Sunbury-on-Thames 迴旋處時，車內導航系統依據即時路面狀況提示改走較快的 M3 / M25 高速公路。但實情總是並非那樣的理想，剛進入 M25 後便見到長長的車龍，而類似的建議亦已多次出現過，看來若有選擇的話還是避開 M25！
終於在個多小時後抵達 Maidenhead Road 的馬場入口，隨著工作人員的指示，把車泊在一望無際的草地停車場。
There were quite a lot of visitors on that day and it took about 5 minutes of walk before arriving at the Grandstand Entrance. The walk was not demanding but definitely not an easy one especially under the strong sunlight. Perhaps you might consider to park at those paid parking lot next to the Grandstand entrance.
當天入場的人不少，大家沿著場內車路行五分鐘便到過達 Grandstand 的入口。列日當空下走這段路也有點熱，真的不想辛苦的話可考慮把車泊在入口附近的收費停車場。
Initially I thought Royal Windsor Racecourse would be one of those old school racecourses given it had 150+ years of history. To my surprise, the racecourse was in fact quite modern as visitors had to scan the e-tickets at the Turnstile of the Grandstand entrance.
Royal Windsor Racecourse 有超過佰多年的歷史，令我以為馬場設施會有點舊，但走到 Grandstand 閘口時卻發現剛剛相反，一切與時並進，入場需掃描電子門票方何進入。
We left home a little bit late in the morning and arrived at the racecourse at around two in the afternoon. Despite the races had already been started, we were so hungry that we decided to take a quick lunch at the paddock lawn first. Everything were so expensive that a simple lunch of burgers and hotdog costed over 30 pounds. A cup of Americano took another £3.5 and probably I had to spend a fortune here.
Looking around, I noticed that most of the visitors were nicely dressed. Ladies wearing bright floral dresses, high heel shoes and some even with fabulous hats. Whereas unlike what we usually found, gentlemen came in with Business Casual look.
Later that night, I found out that there was in fact, a recommended dress code in Royal Windsor Racecourse. It was really embarrassing for us just to wear T-shirts and jeans!
當日出門時間較遲，到達時差不多下午兩點，賽事亦已開始，但肚餓難當，還是先吃個午點吧。走過 Reception 便是 Paddock Lawn，隨便買了些 Burger、Hotdog 已三十多鎊，極為普通的 Americano 亦要三鎊半，今天真的要大出血。
還顧四週發現在場人仕衣著較隆重，女仕們穿上碎花裙，脚踏高跟鞋，有些甚至戴上精緻帽子，而日常簡樸的男仕們也多來個 Business Causal。
回家後翻看 Royal Windsor Racecourse 的資料，原來是有 recommended dress code 的，我們一家 T-shirt、牛仔褲，確實有點失禮！
Even though this was my first visit to the racecourse, I attempted to behave as a veteran and went to the Pre-Parade and Parade rings to take a look at the stamina and competitive nature of the horses!
雖然是第一次入馬場，也要扮扮老手，在 Pre-Parade 及 Parade Ring 鑑賞一下馬匹毛色狀態。
With my homework done, we went to watch the horse race.
Right next to the Paddock were those mobile toilets. I liked the name of the company (Simply) and the body gesture of the icon. Really to the point!
路過 Paddock 前的流動厠所，這個公司名稱和 icon 做型又幾傳神！
The family tickets we had were relatively cheaper and didn’t come with Grandstand Enclosure access. However, this was not a big issue as we could still enjoy the race in the open spaces right in front of the Grandstand and with the assistance of the big TV screen.
我們購買的家庭門票價錢較便宜，雖不能進入 Grandstand Enclosure，但亦未對觀賞賽事做成甚麽障礙。站在 Grandstand 前空地，透過大電視亦同樣清楚掌握整個賽事及衝線過程。
There was no point not to bet especially when you were in the racecourse. With advices from our beloved Google on how to bet, I made the first bet of my life with one of the Bookmarkers.
Um … probably you already got the result!
既然入了場，當然也要下過注。網上即時查看瞭解如何投注，最後在場內的 Bookmarker 下了人生的第一注。
結果 ⋯ 相信大家都會估到！
Losing money wasn’t a big deal. The greatest excitement of the day was enjoying delicious ice-cream.
Each of us got one except my boy. He got two!
Not sure if that was a kind of cultural difference, my wife felt that the atmosphere in the UK racecourse was completely different from what we usually had in Hong Kong. People were more relaxing, had fun and enjoying the family or social gathering here instead of gambling!
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