The Grand National (2014)

City Boy
Born and bred
in the city
it has a good head
for the big prize money.

With Kempton Park as its base
and hitting a high with The King George VI Chase
it’s the pride of London from the man in the street to the hoi polloi;
a wheeling-dealing, fences-taking wide boy.

Quick and astute,
investors in a smart suit
will bank on it doing the business short-term,
but conditions must be good to firm.

A lot of nonsense mysteries
Surround its origins.
Some say it was sold for a few guineas
At a market during a drunken binge.

Others say it was sold at a selling race auction
For a case of vintage champagne.
Many believe it belongs to the estate of Galton and Simpson
Or that a fisherman in a Scottish pub gave it its name.

At 27 hands, it has an illogical advantage over the rest
And draws attention from artists at sixes and nines.
At 2/1, it’s got the bottle to beat the best
According to tic-tac hand signs.

Commission Kingpin
Commands respect.
Hard to detect
as it moves up the field,
ruthlessly unbridled.

Despite being subject to steward enquiries
after many of its victories,
mud has never stuck
as it rides its well-connected luck.

Surrounded by mobsters and hoodlums
it travels in a bullet-proof horsebox.
Though always well turned-out and immaculately groomed,
don’t be fooled; it comes from the school of hard knocks.

This one will dictate the pace
Throughout the race.
Others will fall by the wayside
With its aggressive ride.

But don’t expect it to finish the course a winner.
It’s not that kind of horse.
This one makes a lot of promises and has a lot of promise
But will lead you down a bookmakers’ abyss.

Extrovert Introvert
This chestnut is a dark horse
Which shuts itself away in its stable between racing.
Doesn’t take to being with others unless on a race course
And spends its nights restlessly pacing.

While training on a misty moor
It resents the presence of its jockey
Trying to unseat him, or at least make him saddle-sore
with antics that show it just wants its own company.

At first, its strange behaviour cast clouds
Over its temperament but soon things became clear.
On its very first outing, it rose to the crowds
And revealed the racing public are the only ones it wants near.

Suddenly, it all made sense.
Its box-walking a sign of its need for the big occasion.
The need to go in on itself and dream of leading over the last fence.
Until big race day, everything else gets in the way of its introspection.

Fab Four Hooves
It has a long mane and fringe that almost covers each eye.
Its colours are psychedelic with Julian’s infamous drawing of Lucy in the Sky
on its saddle side.
It’s not what it seems
and gallops faster than slow-motion dreams
and instead of blinkers
wears sunglasses for the ride.

With Liverpudlians chomping at the bit,
Ladbroke’s have made this local lad a moptop favourite
to be the first circus foal
to be bred to jump higher
instead of through rings of fire
and reach its racing goal.

Electric eclectic,
you can bet it’ll make it
as chimneys blow black ‘n’ white smoke from roofs.

With horse shoes every week
from 60s Carnaby Street,
it’s got John, Paul, George and Ringo engraved on its 4 hooves.


With its refined pallet
for the finest cuisine,
its daily diet
includes Legume-rich hay and French forage from Limousin.

Going, too, for this year’s
‘le grand steeple-chase de Paris’,
its entourage are here not just for the beer
but, above all, vintage Beaujolais victory.

Its nosebag full of gourmet grain,
the only worry is has it overdone the luxuries?
With a limp now and again,
it’s showing symptoms of the rich horse’s disease.

Phantom Ride
Odds on to win
with an advantage that’s spooky
weighing in
with the field’s lightest jockey.

Most likely to float across The Melling Road
and jump through fences during the race.
No chance of falling at Valentine’s
or failing to complete this (or any) year’s steeplechase.

So, you won’t see
it triumph on TV;
It’ll just be a galloping ghost
As it comes in first at the finishing post.

If it can keep its balance
It may stand a chance
But even money says it’ll be as uneven
As Crisp was on the final run in.

Wavering with uncertainty,
Its future is shaky.
One to watch as it comes out the starting stalls
To see how far it gets before it loses its equine equilibrium and falls.

Trench Soldier
It won’t cross the Melling Road but run it side to side
until it goes over the top again.
It will fall at some corner of Aintree’s field.
It’s just a question of when.

Tudor Lord Chancellor and Keeper of the Great Seal

The higher they jump the further they fall.
Thomas to his friends. Heretic to his enemies.
The favourite least likely to beat them all.
One stumble and its all powerful legs will bend at its knees.

War Veteran
It’s seen it all before and won’t go down without a fight.
The least likely to fall, it will keep on battling with all its might.
The national is the perfect arena for it
with its single-minded determination, stamina and grit.

Experience counts and will draw on it to move up the field.
In its previous mounts, it’s shown it’s got an extensive armoury to wield.
Though past its best, don’t write it off when the course of history is at stake.
Latest reports suggest old soldiers are placing a bob or two on it for old times’ sake.

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