Wading through mud has become a bit of a past-time in this tropical paradise. See, what they don’t tell you about tropical islands, is that they rain. All the time.
Race day was no exception. The tropical downpour the day before had prepped the track, and left the dirt road leading to the Races a sodden mess. The result was pretty funny. A cavalcade of 1980’s taragos and nissan urvans braving the muddy track and carrying 10,000 Vila locals to what would be, we were assured, “the day of the year”.
Recent experience had left me skeptical. In the past three weeks I’ve been on a bus where the door fell off, narrowly missing women and children, then was locked inside another bus until 2 men and an elderly woman were able to break the lock. Despite this we managed to arrive in one piece. A little muddy, but all ok.
I’m happy to report race day did live up to expectations. With an average of four horses in each race (and odds of four to one for every horse…) it made betting pretty simple, and gave us time to focus on the important things: people watching. Families came from all over the island with picnic gear in hand. Pikininis darted between picnic mats, people and horses while mamas unpacked a never-ending supply of food (most of which was lap lap). We went for the easy option, sharking the food stalls and placing a bet on the final race.
The trusty form guide: race 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 5. Um, anyone see a problem….
Thanks to a mis-print in the form guide and my trusty name selection method we backed a winner (Mystic? No. Onyx. Ooh, I like that. Technical, huh?). With a princely sum of 1600VT or $16 Australian in our pockets we headed home for a gin by the bay. All in all it was pretty a spectacular way to end what was “the day of the year”.