Play(A) Turf

It's five o'clock on a hot August day. It's race day and the beach begins to fill with families looking for the best places from which to watch the show. Beachfront, at the mouth of  Guadalquivir River, Doñana National Park, World Heritage Site; behind Sanlucar de Barrameda, a historic village smelling the wine of its many wineries.


Since its inception in 1845 the races have become the most popular event in the area. Thoroughbred horses compete during two cycles of three days in August at various distances races on the beach at low tide coinciding.


Around the races  two different environments are created, on the one hand enclosure, built for racing and in front of the goal line that functions as a racetrack with places for horses, for the stakes, stands, bar and private boxes belonging to the sponsoring companies. Attendees come prepared to show elegant to the other guests, enterprise customers, entrepreneurs....

On the other side of the beach, a plastic net mark where the safety distance must be removed bathers minutes before each race. On the beach the atmosphere is festive, people come prepared for a long afternoon of racing and there is a curious custom in which the protagonists are the youngest of the families.


Children bring betting booths built and decorated by them, these other children come to bet on which horse will be the first passes through a line drawn by them  before in the sand, just  opposite of their betting booths.


The bets come from ten cents to the euro and paid triple the winner, bettors are treated to sweets or some trinket by the owner of the house to attract more bettors.


The race will start, the police vacates the bathing area and the horses leave the racetrack to go the opposite way to the exit. Then the bets begin, as people see passing horses they decided by one or the other and children start running to their booths and the adults the betting areas.

The horses enter the starting gate and the judge drops the flag to start the show. The hooves pounding the sand break the silence that leaves the herd, and after passing the noise and children running to collect their bets if any luck.


The output of the last race of the afternoon matches sunset, now the passage of the horses brand that it is time to leave the beach, dismantling the booths and form the line to leave the dunes and reach the asphalt. On the racetrack, the finish line marks the beginning of the party to be lengthened in the boxes until wee hours in the morning.

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