Badoom, badoom, badoom

2011-04-15 00:00

PETE, my good friend and colleague, owned a racehorse years back. In fact, he raced a number of them over his early years as a practising vet. Some, as I recall, even won him some money, but the one that inspires this story definitely did not.

He was a large, handsome chestnut gelding who would not have looked out of place pulling milk carts or appearing in pictures advertising German beer. At least 17 hands high at the withers with a sweeping mane and feathers over feet as big as wicket-keepers’ gloves.

And when he galloped one could hear him before one saw him. “Badoom, Badoom, Badoom.” It was as distinctive as a fingerprint. I forget his real name but it sounded something like Carbuncle and this is what is imprinted in my tiny mind, so this is what it shall remain for the rest of this story.

A mutual friend, riding the crest of a boom in his business, sponsored a race-day at lovely Scottsville one fine summer Saturday. A large marquee was erected on the in-field in line with the finish, from which he could entertain his customers, clients and business associates and he enlisted the aid of his friends to assist him in this endeavour. Those of masculine persuasion were delegated the task of manning skottel braais in a courtyard behind the marquee, from which kebabs, boerewors and other delicacies were delivered to the guests by our girlfriends, young wives and consorts, far better looking and much more responsible than we were. They invariably returned with rehydration liquid for the budding chefs — it being a hot summer’s day and dehydration was a real threat.

Carbuncle was running in the last race, an event featuring horses of such dubious talent that the outcome was a lottery. But even in this poor field, Pete’s pony attracted limited attention, his name reclining quietly at the bottom of the bookmaker’s boards. All us braai-masters had placed sizeable bets on him, however, a show of solidarity for our good friend overriding common sense.

The day progressed swimmingly and we reached the latter part of the afternoon in escalating good spirits. At a time, during a lull in the banter, someone shouted: “Listen! Badoom, Badoom, Badoom.” In an instant our braai tongs were discarded as we high-tailed it toward the picket fence at the finish post. I still have a vivid image of the flotilla of aprons of various hues and sizes, adorned with gaudy motifs and captions flapping in the breeze like superman’s capes in front of me as we descended on the line just in time to see Carbuncle streak past, at least two lengths clear of the field.

A scene of utter jubilation erupted and between a flurry of back-slapping and high fives, we dribbled our way back to our posts, loudly deliberating how we would spend our new-found riches. We could not find Pete, however, but assumed he was preparing to lead in the victor, in the presence of kings and queens and other such luminaries who us commoners assume reside in the owners and trainers enclosure.

At some stage, someone commented that there was still a rumble of commentary in the background, a detail we elected to ignore in our euphoric state until it became more animated and demanding of our attention. At this point alarm bells started ringing and we reluctantly ambled back to our post on the fence in time to see a gaggle of ponies gallop past the finish line followed in a distant last place by a sweating Carbuncle – out of steam, out of breath and now, obviously, out of the money.

Those readers who follow the horses would immediately understand what had happened. But there we were, naive, confused and clinging to the fence rail when the penny finally dropped. The race was over 3 200 metres, nearly two laps and twice past the post of the lovely Scottsville track on a fine summer’s evening.

• The author is a practising vet with a passion for his profession and a giggle in his heart.

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