2. Second tightest race track in the world
I grew up on a tobacco plantation, surely one of the most blissful places on earth for a young child to have licence to roam. One of my father`s initiatives was Fiji`s only horse races, which raised funds for deserving local causes. There were two meetings a year, before and after the picking seasons, and a card of, generally, a dozen races each. Cross-country, rough riders (no saddle or bridle) and the ghasita race (a local sled) were the most popular and local business houses would run the tote, bar and food on a cost basis with the profits going to charity. It became an acknowledged local fact that the Votualevu racecourse was the second tightest in the world (bettered only by a track in Nepal). From this came my deep and abiding (and very unprofitable) love of all things to do with racing.
And now, living in North Yorkshire I`m still surrounded by horse-racing. When Parliament first licensed racing in 1740 they gave permission to only three tracks - Newmarket and two tracks in North Yorkshire, York and Hambleton. Cousins of mine own Aldby Park, only a few miles from where I live, where from 1704 onwards, Thomas Darley revolutionised equine breeding with the introduction of the Darley Arabian, now believed to be responsible for the Y-chromosome in 95 percent of modern thoroughbred racehorses.
Random Facts
How I learned to love horseracing