Hamdan al maktoum

British horse racing’s debt to the Middle East

A joyful Saturday at Ascot recently reminded me that when the old Hurst Park Racecourse (near Hampton Court Palace) closed to become a Wates housing estate, the turf was taken to Ascot to form the basis of the jumping track then being established there. It was living beside Hurst Park — where the seven-furlong start abutted the Thameside Upper Deck swimming pool and jockeys focused on bikini-clad local lovelies sometimes missed the off — that turned me in my boyhood into a racing enthusiast, standing on the saddle of my bike perched against the boundary fence to watch the horses flash by or goggling at Prince Monolulu in his headdress