Sport in the United Kingdom — страница 7

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place over open country where the hazards were the natural ones to be found in the country. These included hedges, ditches, streams and the like. Schools and some clubs still run over open country. Sometimes, however, the competitors run off the course as, on one occasion, happened to all the runners in a race. Because of this, the organization of these races has to be very strict. Nowadays, crosscountry races (or steeplechases) are often run in an enclosed area where the hazards are artificial. This makes organization easier. The chief attraction of horse-racing for most people is the oppor­tunity it provides for gambling (see below). Greyhound racing, although declining, is still popular for the same reason. In this sport, the dogs chase a mechanical hare round a racetrack. It

is easier to organize than horse-racing and ‘the dogs’ has the reputation of being the ‘poor man's racing’. Greyhound racing has had a remarkable revival in the 1980s, and by 1988 it accounted for about a quarter of all gambling. Its stadiums are near town centres, small enough to be floodlit in the evenings. Until recently the spectators were mostly male and poor, the surroundings shabby. The 1980s have changed all this, with the growth of commercial sponsorship for advertising. There are fewer stadiums and fewer spectators than in 1970, but the old cloth cap image has become much less appropriate. But one thing has not changed. The elite of Britain's dogs, and their trainers, mostly come from Ireland. INFORMATION: Famous (horse) race meetings The Grand National: at

Aintree, near Liverpool, in March or April It is England's main steeplechase (race over fences). The course is over seven kilometres and includes thirty jumps, of which fourteen are jumped twice. It is a dangerous race Jockeys have been hurt and horses have been killed. The Derby: at Epsom, south of London, in May or June. It is England's leading flat race (not over fences). Ascot: near Windsor in June. Very fashionable. The Queen always attends. As I have mentioned horse-racing, I think it will be good to draw attention to racing in hole. RACING There are all kinds of racing in England — horse-racing, motor­car racing, boat-racing, dog-racing, and even races for donkeys. On sports days at school boys and girls run races, and even train for them. There is usually a mile race

for older boys, and the one who wins it is certainly a good runner. Usually those who run a race go as fast as possible, but there are some races in which everybody has to go very carefully in order to avoid falling. There is the "three-legged" race, for example, in which a pair of runners have the right leg of one tied to the left leg of the other. If they try to go too fast they are certain to fall. And there is the egg-and-spoon race, in which each runner must carry an egg in a spoon without letting it drop. If the egg does fall, it must be picked up with the spoon, not the fingers. Naturally animals don't race unless they are made to run in some way, though it often seems as if little lambs are running races with each other in the fields in spring. Horses are

ridden, of course. Dogs won't race unless they have something to chase, and so they are given a hare to go after, either a real one or an imitation one. The most famous boat-race in England is between Oxford and Cambridge. It is rowed over a course on the River Thames, and thou­sands of people go to watch it. The eight rowers in each boat have great struggle, and at the end there is usually only a short distance between the winners and the losers. The University boat-race started in 1820 and has been rowed on the Thames almost every spring since 1836. At the Henly Regatta in Ox­fordshire, founded in 1839, crews from all over the world compete each July in various kinds of race over a straight course of 1 mile 550 yards (about 2.1 km). Horse racing is big business, along with

the betting which sustains it. Every day of the year, except Sundays, there is a race meeting at least one of Britain's several dozen racecourses. Nine-tenths of the betting is done by people all over the country, by post or at local betting shops, and it is estimated that a tenth of all British men bet regularly on horse races, many of them never going to a race course. Horse racing accounts for about half of all gambling, dog racing for a quarter (after increasing by 27 per cent in 1987-88). The total gambling expenditure is estimated at over three billion pounds a year, or nearly 1 per cent of the gross domestic product - though those who bet get about three-quarters of their stake back in winnings. There is no national lottery, though premium bonds are a form of national