How Babs Malone Cut Down the Field
Barcroft Henry Boake (1866-1892)
The indenting of the text in this poem is as close as we are able to the original.
Now the squatters and the cockies,
Had gathered them together for a meeting on the flat;
They had mustered all their forces,
Monaro-bred I couldn't give them greater praise than that.
'Twas a lovely day in Summer
The swelling ears of wheat and oats had lost their tender green,
And breezes made them shiver,
The river of the golden sands, the moaning Eucumbene.
If you cared to take the trouble
The shadow of the flying clouds that skimmed the Boogong's brow,
Throwing light and shade incessant
Upon whose gloomy forehead lay a patch of winter's snow.
Idly watching for the starting
Old Gaylad stood and champed his bit, his weight about nine stone;
His owner stood beside him,
A shearer from Gegederick, whose name was Ned Malone.
But Gaylad felt disgusted,
He longed to feel the pressure of the jockey on his back;
And he felt that for a pin he'd
For him to go and meet them at the post upon the track.
From among the waiting cattle
And the wife brought up their babe to kiss his father for good luck.
Said Malone: When I am seated
With fairish play, I'll bet we never finish in the ruck.'
But the babe was not contented,
With oranges and sticky from his lollies, for he cried
This gallant little laddy,
And raised his arms imploringly Pease dad! div Babs a wide!'
Then the father, how he chuckled
The surcingle, and placed the babe astride the racing pad:
He did it, though he oughtn't;
The stirrups, and adjusted them to suit the tiny lad,
Who was seemingly delighted:
He sat and twined a chubby hand among the horse's mane:
His whip was in the other;
Shrieked, Take him off!' and then the field came thund'ring down the plain!
'Twas the Handicap was coming,
Beat dull upon the turf that in its summer coat was dressed:
The racehorse reared and started;
And Gaylad, bearing featherweight, was striding with the rest!
That scene cannot be painted
How the father drove his spurs into the nearest saddle-horse!
What to do he had no notion;
Than stop the Handicap that then was half-way round the course.
On the bookies at their yelling,
On the crowd there fell a silence as the squadron passed the stand;
Gayest colours flashing brightly,
A wisp of Gaylad's mane still twisted in his little hand.
Not a thought had he of falling,
And the wind blew out his curls behind him in a golden stream;
Though the motion made him dizzy,
For hadn't he at length attained the substance of his dream?
He was now a jockey really!
To do his best to win and justify his father's pride;
So he clicked his tongue to Gaylad,
The old horse cocked an ear and put six inches on his stride.
Then the jockeys who were tailing
Through the midst of them with nothing but a baby on his back;
And this startling apparition
With a view of making running on the inside of the track.
Oh, Gaylad was a beauty!
Though his reins were flying loosely, strange to say, he never fell;
But held himself together,
Bob Murphy, when he saw him, murmured something like Oh, hell!'
But Gaylad passed the filly;
Cut down the coward Wakatip and challenged Guelder Rose . . .
Here it was he showed his cunning
They turned into the straight at stride for stride and nose for nose.
But Babs was just beginning
In fact, to tell the truth, my hero felt inclined to cry;
For the Rose was still in blossom;
And gallant little Sterling, slow but sure, were drawing nigh.
Yes! Babsie's heart was failing;
Another fifty yards to go! . . . he felt his chance was gone.
Could he do it? much he doubted:
For Babs had never dropped his whip, and now he laid it on!
Down the straight the leaders thundered
For ne'er before had any seen the equal of that sight;
And never will they, maybe,
Flog racehorse to the winning-post with all his tiny might.
But Gaylad's strength is waning
Poor Babs is flogging hopelessly, as pale as any ghost:
But he looks so brave and pretty
And, pulling back a trifle, lets the baby pass the post.
What cheering and tin-kettling
And how they fought to see who'd hold the baby on his lap;
As President Montgomery,
Proposed the health of Babs Malone, who'd won the Handicap.
About the Author
See our page on Barcroft Henry Boake. Includes a linked list of all his writing available on our website.