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Life, Racing and Everything

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    I am recovering from an operation in hospital at present and have been leafing through a couple of old jumps’ form books (from 1979 & 1981) I’ve brought in with me.

    Only an inveterate gambler such as myself could benchmark the human condition via racing form, but it really drove home the transient nature of racing, horses, people and life itself.

    Flicking through hundreds of races, half-remembered names suddenly jump out of the page at me, most of them previously completely forgotten.

    How unrelenting this sport is.  How quickly yesterday’s result becomes so-much chip paper, tomorrow’s result the only thing worth calculating.  Hard to imagine that every wintry hunter chase at Folkestone, every NH Flat race run in pitch dark at Hereford has it’s own story.  Delighted owners that went on to better things, or maybe left the sport altogether.  Winning jockeys and trainers that forged successful careers or never made the grade.

    A million different stories, day after day, week after week, year after year.  Celebrations and cheers lost in haze of time, memorable only to an ever-reducing number up and down the land but that’s about it.

    Lying in a hospital bed is as good a time as any to reflect on one’s own mortality; lying there and reading old form books, doubly so.  Unless your fame/notoriety traverses the normal boundaries, we are all heading for the same obscurity as all those races, all those years ago.  Fading lights, dimmer by the year.

    A newspaper front-page headline the other day (may have been the Mail) claimed that ASPIRIN REDUCES CHANCE OF DEATH BY 25%.  No it doesn’t.  Chance of death remains generally steady at around 100%.

    As the late Johnny Cash put it:

    What have I become?<br>My sweetest friend<br>Everyone I know<br>Goes away in the end


    • Total Posts 349

    A very nice post Mike and one I would agree with nearly all of.

    The history of this sport is one of the things I love and the removal of certain race names is one thing that has disappointed me in recent years.

    Hope you are getting better.

    BTW – the one thing I didn’t agree with?  Johnny Cash released by far the best version of Hurt, but the words are from the original by Nine Inch Nails.

    • Total Posts 567


    Nice post, very philosophical and hits the spot.

    <br>Now, ask the nurse for some "Uppers" before you drift even futher into nostalgia [ain’t what it used to be!], and start blubbering!! :).

    Oh! and don’t overact when the nurse draws the screens around you, they don’t have the same implications in a hospital as on the racecourse! :)

    Get well soon, Large….:)  :)



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    Glad to see you’re still with us Mike (that’s £20 you owe me Chompy :biggrin: )

    • Total Posts 199

    What a cool post.

    The secret (uhh, I think!) is coming to terms with the fact that we’re all headed the same way, and enjoying this transitional period for what it is. ;)

    Now, go get those uppers and get well soon! :biggrin:

    • Total Posts 1453

    A nice post Mike.

    • Total Posts 2663

    Glad to see you’re still with us Mike (that’s £20 you owe me Chompy  )

    Chompy still betting ‘in running’ then…

    • Total Posts 379

    Get well soon.

    <br>Philip Larkin did this rather well.

    <br>AT GRASS

    The eye can hardly pick them out<br>From the cold shade they shelter in,<br>Till wind distresses tail and mane;<br>Then one crops grass, and moves about<br>- The other seeming to look on -<br>And stands anonymous again.

    <br>Yet fifteen years ago, perhaps<br>Two dozen distances sufficed<br>To fable them: faint afternoons<br>Of Cups and Stakes and Handicaps,             <br>Whereby their names were artificed<br>To inlay faded, classic Junes –

    <br>Silks at the start: against the sky<br>Numbers and parasols: outside,<br>Squadrons of empty cars, and heat,             <br>And littered grass: then the long cry<br>Hanging unhushed till it subside<br>To stop-press columns on the street.

    <br>Do memories plague their ears like flies?<br>They shake their heads. Dusk brims the shadows.<br>Summer by summer all stole away,<br>The starting-gates, the crowds and cries -<br>All but the unmolesting meadows.<br>Almanacked, their names live; they

    <br>Have slipped their names, and stand at ease,   <br>Or gallop for what must be joy,<br>And not a fieldglass sees them home,<br>Or curious stop-watch prophesies:<br>Only the groom, and the groom’s boy,<br>With bridles in the evening come.              

    • Total Posts 455

    Mike, hope you’ve got a decent hospital radio DJ. If not, check out Ivan Brackenberry in the comedy section on You Tube – "he’s bonkers!".

    • Total Posts 2663


    Wonderful poem and very pertinent to my thoughts.  Larkin was a local lad too (to me).


    He is indeed bonkers.  Very, very funny.

    dave jay
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    Yes, get well soon Betlarge .. no fun being in hospital.

    Racing makes feel like that sometimes, like thinking about God and history and how pointless things seem to be in hindsight.

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    Hi betlarge

    Another poem: this one from the horseracing museum website composed by Ronald Duncan.

    The Horse <br>Where in the world can man find nobility without pride,<br>Friendship without envy,<br>Or beauty without vanity?<br>Here, where grace is served with muscle<br>And strenght by gentleness confined<br>He serves without servility, he has fought without emnity.<br>There is nothing so powerful, nothing less violent.<br>There is nothing so quick, nothing more patient.<br>England’s past has been borne on his back.<br>All our history is in his industry. <br>We are his heirs, he our inheritance.

    Hope you are soon up and well.

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    Hope you’re up and about soon betlarge.

    • Total Posts 3420

    Wonderful post.

    Get well soon… :)

    • Total Posts 1593

    A very nice post there, betlarge, and I hope you’re up and about soon.

    I think it’s appropriate that your post seemed to make racing like a metaphor for life; the comings and goings all pass by, mostly to obscurity and the RL equivalent of a 70’s form book, but some on to greatness and into the hearts and minds of those who follow it.

    But of course, racing is more than just a metaphor for many people’s lives around here! ;)

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