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The final stretch

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Test Yourself is where you can improve your reading skills. Whether it’s for tests like University Entrance Exams or IELTS and TOEFL, or even just for fun, these pages help you to read, understand and improve your English.

Read the following story by Melalin Mahavongtrakul from the Bangkok Post. Then, answer the questions that follow.

After having been an important part of Bangkok for over a century, the Royal Turf Club of Thailand will host its final race this year.

END OF THE LINE

Anybody who has visited the Royal Turf Club of Thailand under Royal Patronage on a Sunday when the horse racing is on will be familiar with the thrilling atmosphere.

One of Thailand’s oldest racecourses, the place is locally called Sanam Mah Nang Loeng. After over a century of racing and betting, the track will close in a few months. The scene of thrills will vanish and the venue will become history. The Crown Property Bureau announced the termination of the lease in early April, requiring that the plot be returned within 180 days. The Royal Turf Club is expected to shut down in September.

The plan is to convert the present location into a public park that houses a monument to honour His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

HORSES FOR COURSES

The history of this racecourse dates back to the reign of King Vajiravudh (Rama VI). Gen Watanachai Chaimuanwong, chairman of the Royal Turf Club, said that it was opened to the public on December 18, 1909, when the king gave permission for the use of the land in the Nang Loeng area.

King Vajiravudh also presided over the opening ceremony and officially named the venue “Rajchatrinnamai Samakhom.”

Another nickname for the Royal Turf Club is Sanam Thai (The Thai Field), as an alternative to Sanam Farang (The Foreigner’s Field), which was the country’s first racecourse. Located on Henri Dunant Road and founded by a foreign national, Sanam Farang’s official name is Rajchakreetha Samosorn (Royal Bangkok Sports Club). These nicknames are still in use today and the two courses host races on alternating Sundays.

SPORT OF KINGS

Horse racing in Thailand began during the reign of King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) following his tour of Europe. The first horse race was held in present-day Sanam Luang to honour the king’s return. Later on, in 1902, Sanam Farang was founded, beginning the era of Western-style horse racing in the country.

“People refer to horse racing as a sport for people of high social status. It’s classy. In the past, they came to racecourses with big hats and long-tailed coats,” said Gen Watanachai.

“While it originally served a recreational purpose, people in general see it as a gambler’s paradise. Racecourses are legal gambling operators in Thailand, whereas other forms of gambling are usually illegal.”

ALL BETS ARE OFF

Upon arrival at Sanam Mah Nang Loeng, we noticed a large crowd outside. Several tables were set up by vendors selling pens and booklets on racehorses. Some offered binoculars for rent. Looking around, the age group of the fans and fortune-seekers here was quite noticeable.

“They are mostly men aged between 45 and 80. It’s an old man’s sport,” said Sak, 62, a vendor outside the Royal Turf Club, who has been conducting business here for 33 years.

“You rarely see young people here. They probably put their money on football games and other things. So when these people pass away, the horse racing business will probably cease to exist.”


Section 1

Read through the story and answer the following multiple-choice questions.

1. What is the article about?

a. Gambling on horse racing in Thailand.
b. The closure of a famous racecourse.
c. How horse racing came to Thailand.

2. The Royal Turf Club of Thailand is also called ____________________.

a. Sanam Farang
b. Rajchakreetha Samosorn
c. Rajchatrinnamai Samakhom

3. When does horse racing take place at the Royal Turf Club of Thailand?

a. Every day.
b. Every Sunday.
c. Every second Sunday.

4. Which of the following is NOT mentioned in the article?

a. The current chairman of the Royal Turf Club.
b. The history of the Royal Turf Club.
c. Horse racing prizes.

5. In what year was the Royal Turf Club of first opened to the public?

a. 1909.
b. 1959.
c. 1999.

6. Which of the following statements is TRUE, according to the article?

a. Most of the Royal Turf Club’s regular customers are middle-aged to elderly.
b. Sak has run his business at the club for 3 years.
c. The Royal Turf Club has been operating for hundreds of years.
 
7. Which of the following statements is NOT true, according to the article?

a. Racecourses are legal gambling operators in Thailand.
b. The Royal Turf Club was the country’s first racecourse.
c. The club is located in Nang Loeng.

Section 2

Match each of the following words used in the story with the correct definitions from the choices given.

8. noticeable a. a strong feeling of excitement or pleasure
9. booklet b. easy to see or notice
10. thrill c. to stop existing
11. vanish d. to be the place where something is kept
12.alternative e. a thing that you can choose to do or have out of two or more possibilities
13. house

f. a small thin book with a paper cover that contains information about a particular subject

Section 3

Read the following passage. Then, fill in the blanks with the correct words from the choices given.

Adul Dangkomen, 61, has been in and out of the racecourse …..14….. he was 16 years old. He now operates a bakery, but …..15….. that he used to be …..16….. avid gambler and owned a few horses. Adul said he would visit racecourses almost every …..17….., at Nang Loeng, Sanam Farang and even at the Military Racing Course in Nakhon Ratchasima, which holds races on Saturday. “In the past, I …..18….. gambling seriously. I used to carry a large amount of cash …..19….. me every day, and when it ran out, I borrowed more from friends.”

14.

a. since  
b. when  
c. and

15.

a. admit  
b. admits  
c. admitting

16.

a. a   
b. an   
c. the

17.

a. week  
b. weekends  
c. weekly

18.

a. take  
b. took   
c. taken

19.

a. with  
b. around  
c. of

Section 4

Specify whether each of the following words is used in the article as a verb, noun, adjective or adverb.

20. honour

…………………………

21. national

…………………………

22. familiar

…………………………

23. rent

…………………………

24. quite

…………………………


Answers

Section 1

1. b.
2. c.
3. c.
4. c.
5. a.
6. a.
7. b.

Section 2

8. b.
9. f.
10. a.
11. c.
12. e.
13. d.

Section 3

14. a.
15. b.
16. b.
17. a.
18. b.
19. a.

Section 4

20. Verb.
21. Noun.
22. Adjective.
23. Noun.
24. Adverb.

SCORE

21-24: Excellent!
17-20: Good.
13-16: Fair.
12 or fewer: You'll do better next time!

Learn from listening

Click "play" to listen to The final stretch and "Download" to keep this file for educational purpose.

Vocabulary:

classy : of high quality; showing good character - ชั้นหนึ่ง

recreational : involving enjoyment - เกี่ยวการสันทนาการ

termination : the act of ending something -

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