At the races

7 May

Yesterday we delayed our planned departure to Skopelos for a few hours in order to take in a visit to the races. Sightseeing & excursions in Greece tend to mostly involve ancient ruins & Venetian castles. You can get a bit ‘castled-out’, so we jumped at the chance to do something different.

The races take place once a year on a dirt road next to Skiathos airport. This year a donkey race was included in the programme for the very first time. Apparently, the races are held to honour St. George (Ayios Yiorgos) so, as with many things Greek, there was a religious service beforehand at the adjacent church, followed by the blessing of horses, donkeys and riders. The horses were NOT impressed at being flicked on the nose with a bunch of rosemary by the priest!

The race meeting itself was a very casual affair. The meeting consisted of three races. First the donkeys, with traditional wooden saddles or only clad in blankets, ridden side saddle. They were followed by the small working horses, again with wooden saddles. And then came the main event, the racehorses. Handsome creatures, but they would have looked a bit out of place at Ascot or Aintree.

The winning racehorse

The winning racehorse

There were no barriers at the side of the track and spectators wandered freely, only partially controlled by a couple of Port Police officers armed with whistles who had been drafted in for the morning.

Many of the crowd were decked out in their Sunday best, the women tottering about on skyscraper heels, whilst for the ‘jockeys’ it was “dress-down” Monday…jeans and T-shirts ruled. There were no bookies or betting apparent. Nevertheless, PT, with his lifelong interest in the gee-gees, still managed to pick out the winners, much to his delight.

It was all over within the space of an hour but well worth the delayed departure. Our route back to the boat took us right past the end of the runway just as a plane was taking off. Have you ever stood behind a plane going at full throttle? Interesting, I can tell you!!


2 Responses to “At the races”

  1. Sara May 8, 2013 at 12:49 pm #

    That should have blown away all the cobwebs!! 🙂 Sara xxx

    • peteandlu May 8, 2013 at 5:04 pm #

      Sure did! If I’d turned round it would have been an instant facelift!

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