Racetracks in Britain

Go Greased Lightning!

For my latest casebook No Matter how Improbable I need Portia to detect that someone has recently been at a racetrack, therefore the morning has been spent learning all about racing in England.

I knew before I started that the Romans loved to race, and with their expansion into Brittania centuries ago, racing might have come with them, but I didn’t know how much modern-day racehorses owed to England.

Did you know that “All modern thoroughbred racehorses can trace a line back to three foundation sires which were imported to Britain in the late 17th/early 18th centuries[3]” ? That is crazy to me. It’s like the stat about Genghis Khan being the progenitor of 0.5 percent of the male population in the world.

Anyway, back to my storyline, I needed a racetrack that existed in 1930, was close enough to London to be traveled to without staying the night and had the potential to have a type of earth/soil that could be distinguishable.

UK Soil Types

UK Soil Types

I believe Kempton Park Racetrack satisfies these requirements, and at the time, one could take the tube to London Waterloo Station to partake in a day of horse-racing. Kempton is in Sunbury-on-Thames, a town 21km southwest of central London and flanked on its south side by the River Thames. Now to figure out if there is a specific kind of loam or soil I can identify from the area – take a look for example at this map of UK soils from this online forum.

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8 thoughts on “Racetracks in Britain

  1. Sounds like a morning well-spent. But do women in Portia’s time go to the racetracks? Or is that not culturally acceptable? From the sound of things, she probably wouldn’t care one way or another, but I’m curious.

  2. What a fabulous map! It includes Ireland! I had learned a bit about the soil in Ireland during the writing of my first novel, but I hadn’t looked for a map. The map and web page don’t go into a ton of detail, but they do bear out conclusions from earlier research, and will likely figure to some degree in the new novel. Thanks!

  3. I like the serendipity of research (although there were a few things I found out while doing the first book, that were more than I wanted to know). One of the neat discoveries was that like Genghis Khan, Niall Niogiallach (“Niall of the Nine Hostages”), who styled himself the first High King of Ireland, comes in second as a progenitor, with an estimated 2 to 3 million descendants who have O’Neill DNA. That ended up being important in the first book, and opened up a bunch of opportunities for other stories.

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