Nothing holds much more promise than a day at the races – money to win, beers to drink, people to see and horses to watch. Similarly…promise over-flows when one considers a Southerners Sports Club event. So to combine the two can result in something monumental, and on this fortuitous day in March the two combined spectacularly. ‘Sensational stuff’ is how one oke described it. Indeed…
In true Southerners spirit and the interests of the single men; wives, girlfriends, friends of girlfriends, and an eclectic assortment of Bangkok’s expat community were all invited. They came one and all. A family day at its best with children in tow and grandparents leading the drinking charge – JD and Margo. The weather also came and exacted a telling toll. This was not for the faint hearted.

And so it was…
Location: Royal Bangkok Sports Club, Nung Lern
Theme: Hat
Temp: Hot, real hot.
Humidity: 120%.
Breeze: Not a breath
First Race: 12.20pm
Last Race: 5.40pm
Stand: The terraces.
Local Crowd: Men: 99.9%.
Women .05%.
Stray Dogs .05%
Beers: Cold n’cheap
Danger Level :High
Hydration: Low
Likely Result: Broken

Given the task ahead it was deemed unwise to go in unprepared. A clever rendezvous was arranged at Gullivers on Khao San road for 11am to settle the nerves and plan our assault. A few cold ones later, introductions, a giggle at everyone’s hat, and some boring diatribe from the racing ‘experts’, and the winsome crowd made their way to the track.
Flemington, Royal Ascot, or Happy Valley, Nung Lern is not. This is not a place you go to ‘be seen’. There are no lovelies in their see-through summer dresses (well not until the Southerners girls arrived), or dapper men in suits (until James turned up), or fancy bars serving European beer and unpronounceable food. This is real racing where old Chinese men with binoculars and scribbled-on race guides come to stand on concrete terraces and bet on the horse arranged to win that race. I mean pick a winner… And there ain’t a thoroughbred to be seen. Win and place bets only keep it simple and an English race guide helps those while they can still see.
And so the day begins. The first bead of sweat drips off Jacques nose, Jones & Dick Moron form a syndicate, Gareth goes hard early, and the women take the strain. JD buys the Singha beers and it’s on. Ice comes thick and fast but it’s not enough. The day heats up. Someone saw a water but it was a mirage. Make-up runs and no one cares. Hats are soaked and put back on. Bets are placed and a few winners emerge, Karen is in there.
The smarter crowd heads off for some Khao Mun Gai or Kwai Teow but the real punters stay behind. There’re form guides to study and beers to drink. While the horses sit in the barriers for 20 minutes and the jockeys presumably try to remember who’s supposed to win, we wait for the green light flashing tickets in hand. It’s an idle moment and attention naturally turns to the hats. The full spectrum is represented here, from Wagga’s Arab headdress to Scoop’s grandmother’s tea cosy, we look a treat. There’s the girls with their boa-decorated summer hats, Jones regal in the Burger King crown, JD with his conical Vietnamese rice farming shade and Justa in his trademark clown hat. Your basic milliner’s nightmare.
The day carries on and typical of Southerner’s mores, everyone has a great day. Highlights were the beer and racing, and the hats of course, but also the new comers representing Jabulani, AIT and the teaching frat – there to sample some of our hospitality.
At this point everyone’s pretty jolly and typical of every weekend night for some; don’t know when to call it a day. So it’s on to the Dubliner. Symptoms of sunstroke and sever dehydration start to become apparent to most. A group drip is suggested but dismissed. More beer is drunk. The evening starts to go in super-slow mode until two clowns start to wrestle in the ‘Battle of the Boa’ and liven things up. But that’s another story…

Conclusion : Top day

Lessons : Take a drip next year

Result : Now a fixture on the BKK social calendar; ranked 33rd in Conde Naste ‘100things to do before you die’; voted ‘Most Fun Foreigners’ by the Royal Bangkok Turf Club social committee; and soon to form it’s own Chamber of Commerce.

-Southerners Social Committee

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