The second Saturday of May. Percy Warner Park. First race due off at 1.00pm. By which time a huge crowd will have assembled. The infield strewn with vast pick up trucks, parties of young men and Southern Belles dressed to impress, seersucker suits, barbecue smoke hanging lazily in the still humidity. Nashville, Tennessee. The Iroquois Steeplechase.
Since 1941, the fine folk of this mighty fine town have headed out on Bellemeade Boulevard to witness Music City’s annual steeplechase meeting. The infield a sea of colour and mischief and just a little mayhem. On the hillside above the racecourse, the box holders compete to lay out a picnic that will be the envy of their neighbours. We see it at Royal Ascot. We will see it in car parks across the land. But where Ascot is foie gras and caviar and champagne, Nashville is southern fried chicken, coleslaw and Jack D.
The “boxes” no more than a wooden terrace carved into the steep slope. One race meeting a year does not warrant anything grander or more permanent. This Saturday will be the 20th Iroquois Steeplechase that I have attended. One day I will have a runner. It has nearly happened, but a mix of bad luck and a sudden rush of common sense have stood in the way. It will happen. One day.