- “Um, this is our first time here and we don’t know what to do.”
- “Claro. I can tell from your faces that you’ve never been here before.”
This was our first trip to Madrid’s Hipodromo and we had already established ourselves as newbies just by the looks on our innocent, gamble-free faces.
Thankfully, the same cheeky lady behind the glass proceeded to tell us the low down on betting at Madrid’s horsetrack. The next race was in 10 minutes, so we quickly ran to the horse ring where they show the horses to the crowd. We did our best to evaluate the slow nags from the ones with fire in their eyes, did our calculations and proceeded to make four 5€ bets with the same lady who had explained the system to us just minutes earlier. Although I didn’t realize it until just after slapping down our 20 spot, she gave us a subtle shake of the head to confirm our sanguine naiveté. Needless to say, we lost that €20, chalked it up to bad luck, and continued with €2 bets from then on out, which we also proceeded to lose.
Although I grew up around horses, this was my first time at any horse track. Beforehand, I had two images in mind of what I would find on my first trip to the tracks. First, I envisioned a place with seedy dark corners and standoffish aged men with dark glasses and a habit of nodding to lesser-aged sidekicks in suits. Second, well, this is Madrid, so I also had images of pretentious pijo-ed couples dressed in pastels and sipping on cava.
I’m happy to report that I found both groups (well, I didn’t actually see any sidekicks in suits) and as well, a large amount of families with kids, which only served to complete the disparity of this particular environment. After my initial crowd assessment, I spent most of my time oohing and ahhing over the beautiful horses and the tiny jockeys and their weathered, but attractive horse handlers. Oh, and losing money.
Despite not having much luck on the gambling side of things, I really enjoyed my day at Madrid’s Hipodromo and looking forward to spending more time there next spring and summer, when they have night races. Also, if you go, try out the tapas if you can. I had one of the best tortilla de patatas of my life at Iván Muñoz’s restaurant Latapa Madrid. Don’t miss it!