Racing: Anthropologists discover friendly tribe called racegoers

"The Racing Tribe", a new study of racing and racegoers carried out by Kate Fox of The Social Issues Research Centre, describes racegoers as "the kind of friendly, tolerant, obliging natives that most anthropologists encounter only in their dreams."

Having carried out a year of fieldwork at 22 meetings, the report concludes that racegoers show exceptional sociability, partly because of the diverse social base from which they are drawn.

Two categories of racegoer were identified: Enthusiasts (sub-divided into Fans, Addicts, Horseys and Anoraks)and Socials (including Suits, Girls' and Lads' Day-Outers, Pair-bonders, Family-Day-Outers and Be-Seens).

The report claims that: "The Fan is an enthusiast - a regular racegoer with a genuine, but not obsessive, interest in the sport. Addicts are compulsive racegoers who suffer withdrawal symptoms if they have to miss an important meeting.

"The Horsey is an anomaly among enthusiasts, drawn to racing by their passion for horses, and may show little interest in non-equine aspects of the sport.

"Mention a runner in the 3.30, and the racing Anorak will immediately recite its pedigree and if not checked will go on to tell you where the maternal grandsire is standing at stud."

The report's notion of racecourse etiquette suggests that "two pounds is a lady's bet and anything below a fiver casts serious doubt on the masculinity of the punter."

It describes "The Collective Amnesia Rule" which states that: "After each race, thou shalt conveniently forget all erroneous predictions, prophecies and comments made before the race regarding the abilities and chances of the horses involved."

At a time when the BHB are seeking to encourage more families and new faces to venture to the track, the report essentially paints a healthy picture of the sport as a public attraction.

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