A Day at the Races

Last Saturday I drove the two and a half hour trip south to Invercargill where, last year, I was artist-in-residence for 4 months. I had to go there because it was a good friend’s 50th birthday party, I had to pack up some of my belongings and hand over the keys of the William Hodges residency where until the end of November I had been living, and on Sunday I hoped to go for a flight in an historic aircraft before returning to Central Otago. The wild weather prevented this last option.

The birthday was held in the Fantasy Room at the racecourse, a room directly over the birdcage and the finish line. The Fantasy was a famous Southland racehorse so don’t get the wrong idea. The party started at 12.30 pm. I was there shortly after. I am always punctual, although I tell people that it is because I don’t like to miss out on anything.

First surprise was the woodchopping competition taking place near the carpark. Here are some women competing for the underhand chop. I was impressed. Slamming a razor sharp axe hard down between your feet is not for the fainthearted.

Inside, in the first race that I saw a magnificent beast, ironically called Ultimate High, crossing the finish line, with one of its four legs all awry, sort of flapping. Soon after an ambulance pulled up in front of him (?) and it wasn’t long before with the help of a vet, his inert body, covered with tarpaulins or some modern version, lay over his body, except for the offending leg sticking out.

Four or five races into the afternoon, during one of the breaks, there was a lingerie parade! So sorry that I didn’t take any photos of this guys. I was too busy looking perhaps.

So, wine, death, sex. I felt as if I was a Roman at the Colliseum.