Horseracing was popular on liners and cruise ships during the 20th Century.
The following is from a young man’s diary who sailed with his parents First Class from San Francisco to London via the Suez on board the RMS Oransay in the 1960s.
A NIGHT AT THE RACES
Tonight, there is the gala event: The “Pacific Winding Race Meeting.”
- On other ships, horse racing was a common pastime, but on the RMS Oronsay, it happens only twice during our seven weeks. “This has always been considered one of the highlights of the voyage” emphasizes Today’s Events.
- The large glass-enclosed, but open-roofed, Arena, forward on the Stadium Deck is the locale. Most ships use a simple six-horse field and then roll a half-dozen dice. Oronsay is far more complicated.
- Skill is vital. Horses are bought in advance and the owner; usually, a husband chooses the jockey that is often his wife.
- The wooden thoroughbreds are pulled the length of the Arena by way of a large fishing reel held by the jockey, hence the name “Winding Race Meeting.”
- Several turns will only move a jockey’s horse a few inches, and it is easy to get the line twisted causing a falter.
- My Father is the starter for each race. There are five races and then one grand finale featuring the winners.
- The horses are named, for example, “Stung” by Bee out of Hive, “Old Story” by Motor Car out of Petrol, “Blondie” by Bleach out of Bottle.
The list goes on.