Photo By Jools Thatcher

Photo By Jools Thatcher

The theme for this week’s JVG Radio Method is “Racing”

Ed Bates doing the guitar duties this week



“The trouble with racing rarely rests with the horses”
According to the Gospel of Jack
“The trouble with racing” he’d say with conviction
“Is the arsehole who sits on its back”

Jack didn’t trust jockeys – and he didn’t trust trainers
In his day he’d been both – in a fashion
He didn’t trust bookies, owners or punters
But horses he loved with a passion

He’d grown up around them – his dad was a breaker
Jack followed him into the game
But a fall in his twenties left him near crippled
One arm next to useless – and lame

For the next forty years he scratched out a living
Moving from stable to stud
Stock horses, Quarters, Shetlands to Clydesdales
And those with much hotter blood

He always found work – though his body was broken
His worth in his manner and tongue
An astonishing gift for calming his charges
Even the most highly strung

“When you’re breaking a horse there’s only one rule”
“And that rule is sacred” he said
“You don’t break its spirit and you don’t break its back”
“You find a way to get into its head”

“Horses” he stressed “Are no different to humans”
“They’re all individual for a start”
“They might have the breeding, the strength and the legs”
“It means little if they don’t have the heart”

Well into his eighties Jack still went to the track
Every weekend, sunny or wet
Wander down through the yard and back through the ring
But not once in his life did he bet

“Punters” he scoffed “Are the base of the food chain”
“Bankrolling the sharks and high flyers”
“Those who claim to make a living from punting”
“Are either deluded or liars”

“I watch these young fellas who think they know horses”
“All the jargon and carry on when they win”
“Like a bunch of monkeys chasing a peanut’
“Sucked in by the image and spin”

“What you need to remember, where money’s involved”
“There’s the temptation there to abuse”
“For every horse that’s saddled to win”
“There’s another been saddled to lose”

“I can pick a good horse” he’d state without ego
“And not by its gait or its size”
“A good horse” he’d chuckle “Will tell you itself”
“It’s all in the coat and the eyes”

Jack never explained precisely what to look for
“It’s in the eyes” was all he would say
If he had, by now I’d be sunning my buns
On some beach up near Byron Bay

Sadly, Jack is no longer with us
His end both ironic and bizarre
He was knocked down while walking home from the races
A jockey was driving the car

© Copyright 2009 Ian Bland

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