Tuesday 21 May 2024

Going To Great Yarmouth Horse Racing With Jerry Banks

It's always a special occasion to get to the races.

As readers will know, Great Yarmouth Racecourse holds a place in our heart. It goes back to the days of summer holidays, staying at Caister-on-sea, just a stone's throw down the road. In fact, if you are at the racecourse look in the distance and you will see Caister Lifeboat House, sitting on the north sea coast. 

Our summer holidays, every September, were our only real annual vacation. A week in the caravan with Mum and Dad, often Nana Polo and cousins. My father, Colin, would enjoy a day or two at the Eastern Festival (actually a 3-day meeting) which become a family occasion in every sense as his brothers, cousins and a gathering of friends would make the most of this tourist hot spot. 

I often think back to those times and wish I could watch from afar to see Dad and the Happy Pilgrimage enjoying a gamble. We don't realise what we have until it has gone. Those memories are very special but how I would love to be part of that beautiful time. 

Our love of horse racing come from our Dad. And all of our days at Great Yarmouth since are in memory of my father and all those good people who sadly are no longer with us. 

Through writing many blog posts and reading others I learned about Lowestoft professional gambler Jerry Banks. He is one of those people you can't help but like. A broad Suffolk accent which adds to the stories of gambling over a few pints of Guinness. 

On the 22nd May, my brother, Tony, and I will head to Great Yarmouth on the train which takes around three hours. It may seem drawn out but it's all good fun as we chat along the way. A change at Ely and Norwich, then some thirty minutes later we are at the coast. Happy smiles of people heading to the coast, while others make their return home.

To be fair I never seem to have a fancy when I am at the course. Being dedicated to two-year-old horse racing I'm lucky if there are a couple of juvenile races on the card. However, it goes as it goes. I don't bet for fun and it shows some resolves not to bet for no good reason. I'm not keen on making bad habits. It's far too easy to bet for all the wrong reasons and if you have any element of professionalism you simply don't bet for fun. 

Each to their own. I'm not interested.

I see there are couple of Class 2 two-year-old maidens worth a fraction over £20,000 to the winners.

The weather forecast suggests rain so I best put my umbrella in my bag. 

It will be good to meet up with Jerry. With just six races on the card it will be a pretty brief affair. Jerry was good enough to get us a ticket which shows what a generous man he is. After racing we walk around the corner to The Avenue Pub and from there head to the Savoy Tandoori for a curry, a few more drinks and good chat. 

If Dad was still alive he would enjoy Jerry's company and after we would go visit the Grosvenor Casino on the front. Sadly that wasn't open when Dad and family used to go on holiday although they did used to go to the greyhounds. Those two elements were enough to see most skint halfway through the week. If the casino had been on the wish list most would have left pot less after the first day.

You have to smile. 

When at the racecourse I will look into the grandstand and say to myself: 'I hope all is well, Dad.'

I'm sure it is. 

Photo: Dad, Nana Polo, Sandra (cousin) & Tony and I.