Saturday, 18 July 2009

World's Weirdest Racetracks Top 10: Intro

I decided not to spend many lines on smartmouthing about the sad but predictable news racing offered those past two weeks (Ziadie, Hollywood etc.); bitching about the easy targets (e.g. how Shirreffs’ #2 horse contested the Hollywood Gold Cup, while his HOTY candidate has her eyes on the big prize – the Clem Hirsch at DM) or about how American racing officials, for once trying to be tough on doping, do it in such an objectionable manner as to find the only course of action that makes them look even worse than their usual sweep-it-under-the-carpet ways.

Instead of focusing on the madness, I have chosen to concentrate on weirdness for the next ten days or so. In this spirit, let me proudly present my personal Worlds’ Weirdest Racecourses Top 10 ranking, compiled by the staff of The Dresden File.

As with any good ranking, let’s start by stating the guidelines used to assemble this list:

1. This Top 10 ranks racetracks by weirdness of the course(s). It is neutral towards a course’s beauty (or lack thereof) as long as they offer truly remarkable features.

2. Physical features trump atmosphere. The reason is largely a practical one: I can only guess at the atmosphere of candidates. In some cases, I can’t even do that. For example, it’s entirely possible that tracks such as N’Djamena (Chad) or the Hippodrome de Beyrouth in Lebanon (heavily damaged by Israeli rockets during several attempts to establish peace by killing civilians) would out-weird some of those on the list had unique atmosphere counted equally, but I have nothing to base such judgments on, and considering the worldwide scope of this ranking, I doubt anyone has.

3. Only tracks that offer halfways professional thoroughbred flat racing are eligible. They can of course offer other modes of racing too, but there’s gotta be a minimum of common ground. As tempting as it is to place those countryside roads and farm lanes used for the Kiplingcotes Derby at #1, I feel there needs to be a clear line, after all there also are endurance races run in the Sahara.

4. A quality racing product is a plus, but not required.

So without further ado...

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