In Competition No. 2894 you were invited to submit a paean to a famous racehorse. Thanks to David Pearn, who suggested what proved to be an excellent competition. P.C. Parrish, Roger Theobald and Peter Goulding impressed, but I could almost hear the thunder of hooves as I read Chris O’Carroll’s bonus-fiver-winning entry. His fellow winners take £25 each.
O equine Nelson, crippled yet victorious,
The bone disease that made your gait laborious
Rendered the glory you achieved more glorious.
You suffered and did not succumb, Red Rum!
Great hero of the greatest steeplechase,
Thrice in a five-year span you won the race,
And also finished twice in second place.
Such prowess strikes us dumb, Red Rum, Red Rum!
Even abstainers love your ardent spirit.
No fearsome fence could quell your will to clear it.
No mount can match your record nor come near it.
Your hoofbeats drum — Red Rum, Red Rum, Red Rum!
Resting in peace at Aintree’s winning post,
Where each year’s champion salutes your ghost,
You are the racing world’s eternal toast —
Red Rum, Red Rum, Red Rum, Red Rum, Red Rum!
Irish eyes were born to sparkle
Having bred that champion Arkle,
Crowned the fastest steeplechaser
Not a rival matched this racer.
Lauded as a money-spinner,
Thrice the Cheltenham Gold Cup winner,
Fast and furious, all enthralling,
Never did he look like falling.
Winning for his punters riches,
Soaring fences, jumping ditches,
Hailed as poetry in motion,
Arkle earned deserved devotion.
Leaping higher, running faster,
Kempton Park would spell disaster,
Injured, bound for cropping clover,
Arkle’s glory days were over.
Others laud the mighty horses who are monarchs of the courses;
And praise their strength, agility and grace,
But I’ll hymn an equine failure who’s a legend in Australia:
He’s the Drongo, and he never won a race.
In thirty-seven meetings he took thirty-seven beatings
Though his dam and sire were classier than most;
Any optimistic betting always ended in regretting,
For the Drongo never nosed it to the post.
They hired a champion jockey — Bobby Lewis, keen and cocky,
Who rode him till you’d think his lungs would burst.