Horse racing featured highly amongst Hemingway's many sporting interests. As Brendan Gallagher points out in his Telegraph article, 'Ernest Hemingway's sporting Paris': 'Two sports chiefly occupied his thoughts and energies in Paris - cycling and horse-racing - while he also earned useful money in the early 20s as a sparring partner at Boxing gyms around the French capital.'
As with so many other aspects of society in the 'Roaring Twenties', horse racing (like many other competitive sports) was experiencing a golden age, and its accessibility provided another exciting arena for the young Ernest -- who hailed from a rather more conservative background -- to explore. 'On the pelouse [lawn] at Auteuil,' writes Michael Reynolds, 'where bets were laid out in five franc increments, for less than a dollar Ernest and Hadley could get the thrill of winning or losing without risking serious money. Hemingway approached this new game with the same enthusiasm he focused on all of his interests. The jocks, swipes and trainers lived in a special world, a place apart with unwritten rules of behaviour. They were their own society, separate from the grandstand crowd and living on the outskirts of respectability.' (Michael Reynolds, Hemingway the Paris Years, New York and London: W. W. Norton and Company, 1999, p. 32). The information Hemingway gleaned from the track would, of course, be digested and then incorporated into many of his works, 'My Old Man' and A Farewell to Arms among them.