Twenty-five years after Laughing in the Hills, his racetrack classic, Bill Barich tells the story of how he fell in love and found a new life in Dublin, where he was soon caught up in the Irish obsession with horses and luck. Barich travels his adopted country and meets the leading trainers and jockeys; the beleaguered bookies who work rain or shine; and a host of passionate, like-minded fans—from Father Sean Breen, the “Racing Priest,” to T. P. Reilly, whose peculiar betting system turns on a horse’s looks.
Witty, philosophical, and vividly written, A Fine Place to Daydream is a paean to the real Ireland, a moving tale of a surprise romance, and a thrilling account of a hugely exciting season at the track.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
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|Title of eBook: A Fine Place to Daydream: Racehorses, Romance, and the Irish|
|Release Date: 12-10-2008|
|Allowed Countries (hover)|
|Publisher: Random House, Inc.|
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A Fine Place to Daydream: Racehorses, Romance, and the Irish
Now through the night come the horses. They come from obscure little villages like Lisaleen and Closutton, Coolagh and Moone, dozing and possibly dreaming on the long, dark ferry ride from Dun Laoghaire across the Irish Sea to Wales. They are Ireland’s pride, the finest jumpers in a country obsessed with jumping, with grand historical leaps over daunting obstacles, so they’ve been prepared for the trip with the utmost care. Some have IV drips to balance their electrolytes, others have been fed exotic Chinese herbs for an energy boost, and almost all have had their lungs checked for infections, their blood tested, and their weight recorded precisely, down to the last ounce, to be sure they have reached a peak of fitness for their annual tilt against the British at the Cheltenham Festival in England.
They’ve heard the word Cheltenham countless times, of course, uttered by their trainers in both delighted anticipation and utter despair, so it has some resonance for them. It might even have some meaning. Horses know more than they let on; after all, they’re in touch with elemental things. In the old days, farmers in rural Ireland believed their horses could see ghosts. Whenever one stopped dead and refused to budge, they reckoned a shade was nearby. If you looked between the horse’s ears, you could catch a glimpse of it, the farmers claimed. To prevent the fairies from stealing a good horse, they tied a red ribbon to it, or a hazel twig, or they spat on it. Folklore had it that a wild horse could be tamed by reciting the Creed in its right ear on Friday, and its left on Wednesday, until it came to hand.