Saturday, October 28, 2006

Phar Lap

Phar Lap beats Reveille Boy and Scimitar in the Agua Caliente handicap, 1932.

Ode to Pharlap
(4 of Wands: against all odds)

"he wasn't just a horse"
(Harry Telford, trainer)

"that's my Bobby boy"
(Tommy Woodcock, strapper, and final trainer)

he, Phar Lap
(lightning in Thai),
aka. the Red Terror,
aka. Bobby boy,

came to Agua Caliente

the place of hot springs, in Spanish

red as fire
to the fiery springs
ran like the wind, and lightning, as usual
with half his hoof hanging off
as the hard Mexican stones
cut into his feet
lucky a horse's feet hardly touch the ground when galloping

"he would run, and win,
even with no legs",
said his trainer

4 of Wands: seemingly impossible
marriage of fire and water
against all odds

creates a freak, a wonder,
a god in equine form,
whose like we had not seen before,
nor have seen since
(although he had the previous wonder Carbine in his bloodlines,
both sire and dam seemed duds)

duds too, all the other yearlings
trained by Harry Telford

Phar Lap would have done what he did
no matter who trained him,
his trainer realised in near despair

but only if he had a trainer
with the hard head of a Harry Telford
and a strapper
with the softness of heart of a Tommy Woodcock

head and heart so often opposed each other
hardness and softness,
yang and yin
embodied in the two men, one older, the other younger -

"who gives the orders around here?"

what their "marriage" produced
seemed a heart on legs, all heart
the largest heart ever seen in a horse
itself a freak of nature:
imagine the immensity of those four bursting chambers!

and to think that the harsh stony desert of Mexico
could put down a New Zealand/Australian champion!

he ran every race as if it were his last

he put all his heart into it, every time

and all hearts, Australian and Mexican, went out to him

he ran every race as if doing battle with the lords of death,
the rulers of the underworld

killed by greed

fitting epitaph for a nation's hero, and legend

even if the greedy element in that nation began to kill him

before the greed of the other did!

America, we would hate you for your greed,

if we did not feel more shame at our own

(c) Claire Pedersen, 28/10/06
(springtime brings on thoughts of horse-racing, and the medicine wheel thoughts of horses and horse dreaming:
the power animal of power itself -
they don't call it "horse power" for nothing!)


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