by Henry Kendall (1839-1882)
In the beams of a beautiful day,
Made soft by a breeze from the sea,
The horses were started away,
The fleet-footed thirty and three;
Where beauty, with shining attire,
Shed more than a noon on the land,
Like spirits of thunder and fire
They flashed by the fence and the stand.
And the mouths of pale thousands were hushed
When Somnus, a marvel of strength,
Past Bowes like a sudden wind rushed,
And led the bay colt by a length;
But a chestnut came galloping through,
And, down where the river-tide steals,
O’Brien, on brave Waterloo,
Dashed up to the big horse’s heels.
But Cracknell still kept to the fore,
And first by the water bend wheeled,
When a cry from the stand, and a roar
Ran over green furlongs of field;
Far out by the back of the course —
A demon of muscle and pluck —
Flashed onward the favourite horse,
With his hoofs flaming clear of the ruck.
But the wonderful Queenslander came,
And the thundering leaders were three;
And a ring, and a roll of acclaim,
Went out, like a surge of the sea:
“An Epigram! Epigram wins!” —
“The Colt of the Derby” — “The bay!”
But back where the crescent begins
The favourite melted away.
And the marvel that came from the North,
With another, was heavily thrown;
And here at the turning flashed forth
To the front a surprising unknown;
By shed and by paddock and gate
The strange, the magnificent black,
Led Darebin a length in the straight,
With thirty and one at his back.
But the Derby colt tired at the rails,
And Ivory’s marvellous bay
Passed Burton, O’Brien, and Hales,
As fleet as a flash of the day.
But Gough on the African star
Came clear in the front of his “field”,
Hard followed by Morrison’s Czar
And the blood unaccustomed to yield.
Yes, first from the turn to the end,
With a boy on him paler than ghost,
The horse that had hardly a friend
Shot flashing like fire by the post.
When Graham was “riding” ‘twas late
For his friends to applaud on the stands,
The black, through the bend and “the straight”,
Had the race of the year in his hands.
In a clamour of calls and acclaim,
He landed the money — the horse
With the beautiful African name,
That rang to the back of the course.
Hurrah for the Hercules race,
And the terror that came from his stall,
With the bright, the intelligent face,
To show the road home to them all!
About the Author
See our page on Henry Kendall. Includes a linked list of all his writing available on our website.