Posted tagged ‘Waterloo’

Fleet of foot with a horseshoe boot

July 11, 2015

Man o’ War at full speed

In the pantheon of great studs Man o’ War makes Warren Beatty an also ran. The prolific stallion sired 64 stakes winners and many champion racehorses. Regular viewers of the Jeremy Kyle Show will be familiar with the strange breeding policies of the families featured on the daytime programme. Down is up and up is down in this topsy-turvy land. Long before this two of Man o’ War’s genes were almost a forerunner of this abominable daytime entertainment programme.

Seabiscuit was War Admiral’s nephew although he was one year older than his uncle; such is the way with thoroughbreds. Both horses were the two most successful equines in their era but they never raced against one another. The public demanded a blood feud. On November 1st 1938 the two horses had a winners takes all race. Seabiscuit won and was immortalised in a book by Laura Hillenbrand and a subsequent film. (sorry- forgot about the spoiler alert- still, at least you won’t need to watch it now)

It was all the nag’s fault anyway for this horsey talk, of course. There we were stabilised in the pub when the resident military expert shows up. He neighed on and on about the Battle of Waterloo. It was something to do with the anniversary of the event; 200 years by my reckoning. This “historian” nagged us about the dynamics and tactics of the battle. I got the feeling he had just purchased an Osprey books edition of the Napoleonic Wars and so was bombarding us with short-term memory blasts.

Battles can be lost but wars can still be won. I let the phony Max Hastings gallop on before I reined him in. I asked him a question? One thing I am quite good at is remembering famous horses. Off the top of my head I couldn’t tell you when my wedding anniversary is but ask me for the name of Alexander the Great or Simon Bolivar’s horse and I wouldn’t need to phone a friend. I stuffed the bragger by asking him if he knew the name of the Duke of Wellington’s horse. I had David Broomed him as he became speechless and received four faults for his refusal.

I enlightened him with the capital, Copenhagen. Before I could ask him if he knew Napoleon’s horse he had retreated into the woods. History could have lost a famous Abba song if the commanders of the opposing armies on the day had decided to have a horse race to settle the spoils. The two fleet footed Manowars could have had a duel between themselves saving much bloodshed.

Copenhagen or Marengo?  Where would you rather go on holiday?