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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 13, Issue 6 (September 1, 1938)

Ambition's Aim

page 50

Ambition's Aim

Tune in For-Tune!

Everyone harbours a dream of what he would do if Fortune suddenly lifted the lid and offered him the works. There are some who crave to be so rich that they could afford to own three motor cars and still ride a bicycle. There are others who dream of having so much money that they could habitually wear clothes that look awful but feel comfortable. Of course this is aiming at the moon. Only millionaires can afford to look like a case of delerium trimmings, or Rumbold the rat-catcher. Even then it requires a heap of courage to defy your wife's relatives and spend your days happily bringing up drum-head cabbages in the way they should grow in a suit which looks as patchy as the map of Europe.

Still, if you're rich enough you may get away with it. People will say as you flutter and flap past, “That's old McBoodle; decent old stick, but a bit eccentric.”

But if you're known to be so poor that you pay cash for everything, they will whisper: “Old So-and-So is on the rocks; has to do a bit of market-gardening on the side.”

The Poverty of Riches.

The greatest advantage of a lot of money is that it enables you to slip back to where you were before you had any. Biography is rich in millionaires to whom the sweetest reward of super-oodledom is the privilege of sitting in their own private kitchen, with their feet on the stove, smoking a short pipe and defying the tyranny of Fortune and Flunkeydom. This is the way of Ambition. It goes up with a bang and all that comes down is the stick.

“Hors de Comeback.”

For myself, if I had sufficient money to make me dissatisfied with myself, I would like to own a racehorse—a real racehorse with a tartan blanket, canary legs, and red nostrils like scooped-out tomatoes. I wouldn't worry about his teeth, to which some people attach so much importance. After all, a racehorse is not a wrestler. If he can run hard enough there is no need for him to bite the horse in front, and if he can't he won't get close enough to use his teeth anyway. I think a nice pair of red nostrils is a very important part of a racehorse; it is an indication that he is a “snorter” and is able to scoop up his fair share of galloping-fuel without getting hiccoughs and giving his jockey the jumps.

I can think of nothing more conducive to a feeling of Power than to be on snorting terms with an animal who is so regal that his subjects whisper in his presence and take the oat of allegiance to his rule.

I have always envied the Aga Khan—not for his wealth of elephant tusks and tigers' tails, not for his teeming millions, his Indian ink wells and his
“The greatest advantage of a lot of money is that it enables you to slip back to where you were before you had any.”

“The greatest advantage of a lot of money is that it enables you to slip back to where you were before you had any.”

coral strands, but because he owns racehorses who treat him as an equal. That is sufficient to establish any man's self-respect—no matter how much money he has. To be accepted by such proud and haughty animals is enough to make one feel that he is not quite such a ham as his protographer makes him.

The Eyes Have It!

These are a few of the reasons why I would like to own a real racehorse in a real stable with a horse-shoe over the door, where I could call on his horseship every morning and fondle his fetlocks or pat his pasterns. No, I don't think I could be as familiar as that. I might do it if the horse were not looking. Have you ever seen the look in a racehorse's eye? One gave me that kind of look in the saddling paddock once. Well, I've been looked at by sales ladies in the haberdashery department; high-class tailors have regarded me with the glazed eye of a boiled cod; I have been looked at by bridge partners and dancing partners; page 51 life-savers have seen me in a bathing suit; and I thought I was hardened to all varieties of optical insult; but when that horse looked at me I hastened to the “tote” and asked for my money back, or, failing that, that they present it to the home for fat jockeys (fat in a jockey is equivalent to old age in anybody else). The hot blush of shame singed the edge of my collar when I thought of my colossal vulgarity in wagering on anything so haughtily remote as that splendid animal. It seemed worse than taking odds (both ways) on my great aunt Seraphina who is so aristocratic that she blushes blue when she sees red and spends Arbor Day under her family tree.

A Rodeo Uncle.

It must feel good to be owned by a racehorse; to be venerated by the punting public as the repository of strange secrets; to see disciples of the “divvy” go into a mystery huddle when you pass. To be approached respectfully by gleaners of knowledge and students of form for the low-down on his horseship's uptake. It must be pleasant to have it reported that you were seen to smack your jockey on the back at Riccarton, to smack him behind the ear at Trentham, to smile at Avondale, to kick the stable-boy on the shins at Ellerslie. Such acts, translated to the language of yeas and neighs, mean much to the mystery men of Mokedom. The owner's face is the mirror of his horse's aspirations, respirations and complications. A spot of spavin, a bout of gout, a hint of glanders or broncoitis, reduces the owner's face to such a sorry state that if you saw him and the horse together you'd scarcely know them apart—if the horse wore a hat, too. On the other hoof, if the horse neighs merrily in his bath, tosses his nosebag like an Italian expert undergoing a meal of spaghetti, and behaves
“ Scoop up his fair share of galloping-fuel without getting hiccoughs and giving his jockey the jumps.”

“ Scoop up his fair share of galloping-fuel without getting hiccoughs and giving his jockey the jumps.”

like a horse who has all his mind on all his feet, the owner is hard put to it to resist crying it aloud amongst the wool-brokers. But he knows he mustn't; he knows that as a horse's spirits go up so the odds come down. This is one of the penalties of being a racehorse's rodeo uncle.

Nevertheless I crave to own a racehorse, to travel round the country with him, sharing his hopes and joys during the day, and his blanket during the night; to feel him snuggling up against my back. There's a kick in that. To lie in the straw with him and amuse him by picking up his hoofs and saying: “This little horsey went to Newmarket, this little horsey stayed in bed, this little horsey had a roast oat, and this little horsey won by a head.”


And when things were slack I'd scratch him. I've always wanted to do it. I've stroked cats and boats, I've patted dogs and little boys' heads, but I've never scratched a racehorse. It must soothe the horse; in fact, it seems completely to take a horse's mind off his work. I've noticed that a well-scratched racehorse never races except in cases where he starts from scratch. This no doubt applies to ticklish horses only. Yes, sir, I'll certainly get a step-ladder and a rake and scratch my horse thoroughly when I get him.

And when I get him I hope he won't be one of those horses who read better than they run—paper-chase horses. And, above all, I hope he will be a friendly horse who won't look at me as though I were something nauseous he had found in his oats.

If he were a pony I'd call him Laryngitis, because he'd be a little hoarse.

They're Off!!!

They're Off!!!

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