The Ride of his LifeWritten by Jelbaby
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‘Oh no!’ I thought to myself, not fully certain what he was about to do. “What are you doing?” I protested, a feeling of dread gripping my stomach. “What does it look like?” He snapped at me, leading Paragon Prince onto racetrack. “Dad.” I protested again. “What heck?” Suddenly comprehending what he was about to do. Dad was going to ride flipping horse himself. “If this lazy jockey ain’t going to show up son, then I’ll ride track work.” Came his immediate retort. “You can’t.” I argued. “I can so, it’s my blasted horse.” He shouted stubbornly. I didn’t argue, that would have been useless. You didn’t argue with Dad when he was like this, he was not kidding. I wasn’t even sure if he could ride or not. I had never seen him mount a horse. “Dad.” I yelled, feeling just a bit cheeky, “Can you even ride?” “How hard can it be?’ He asked me, meanwhile hauling himself into saddle. He turned horse and guided him out onto course, not training track, but on course proper which was forbidden territory for track work galloping. “Oh My Lord!” I cursed to myself, thinking that there are a million reasons why he shouldn’t do this. He’s not wearing a hard hat, just a stupid blue floppy thing. He can’t ride, obviously. Mum is going to be livid and will probably kill him, if he doesn’t kill himself in process. Thoroughbreds are mad at best of times, but with my crazy father, with his erratic irish temper who couldn’t ride a horse to save his life on a nervous thoroughbred, this was not going to be constructive track gallop. “Damn!” I muttered to myself. Where was my mother when I needed her? If she were witnessing this, she would have a cow. A total melt down. “Dad, you can’t!” I shouted, but it was too late. He couldn’t hear me anyway, it was a futile attempt. He walked Paragon Prince around to 1200 metre starting area and gathered up reins. He lent forward, giving horse an unnecessary sharp kick in guts and they took off at a flat out gallop. Dad just clung on for dear life, grasping at handfuls of mane and reins. I guess he was hoping horse would just carry him to winning post. They galloped around corner into straight, heading for winning post. I ran down towards straight and stood at rail watching, still expecting worst to come. Then all of a sudden, Dad saw it, I saw it and horse saw it. The piece of metal wire that had been placed across track to prevent idiots - like my father, galloping their horses on course proper. My father tried and tried to pull him up, but to rein in a thoroughbred without warning, traveling at around sixty kilometres per hour is virtally impossible. He leaned back and dragged on reins using every ounce of strength he possessed, but it was hopeless and he knew it. I stood there rooted to spot, thinking for sure that my father’s number was up. He didn’t have a chance in hell of stopping Paragon Prince before they reached that metal wire.
All of a sudden, Dad did only thing he could do under circumstances; he bailed. He just plain jumped out of saddle on to ground still holding reins and it was funniest thing you ever saw; my crazy father running alongside this horse, which he somehow managed to pull away from that lethal looking piece of wire across track. Don’t ask me how he did it. It was all so fast, but he did it. I sighed in total exasperation and relief, leaning against rails. Dad walked over leading horse behind him. “Well.” he said, trying to catch his breath, his expression giving away nothing, “That was hairy.” I said nothing, thinking that his words were a huge understatement and also knowing full well if I even opened my mouth Dad would be right in my face, justifying his actions. I decided then and there to just shut up and agree with him. I decided leave this task to my mother. Mum would and did lock horns with him later, she literally had him for breakfast and then some. As for ‘no show’ jockey, well did he cop a well deserved dressing-down from both Mum and Dad. I don’t recall him ever riding for us again after that day. I assume my father had to go before turf club officials over that incident and furthermore, he probably got into an abundance of trouble over it. I’m not really sure, I was only about twelve at time, so I don’t recollect all that eventuated after that day. However, when I witness that determined, stubborn, cantankerous expression on Dad’s face, I know ever -dependable hissy fit is just around corner and to hell with consequences. As far as I know, after events of that morning my father never again attempted to ride a horse.
A funny story, about a friend of mine and his trials and tribulation with thoroughbreds, trainers and jockeys
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