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THOROUGHBREDS

An original poem by Paul Mellon

The day my final race is run
And, win or lose, the sinking sun
Tells me it's time to quit the track
And gracefully hang up my tack,
I'll thank the Lord the life I've led
Was always near a Thoroughbred.

I've had my share of falls and knocks
Pursuing the elusive fox.
I've heard the stirring cry of hounds
From Melton to the Sussex Downs.
Each spring I ride a hundred miles
(My tail bright red, my face all smiles).

And I have seen the thrilling pace
Of many a cutthroat steeplechase
And watched with breath and mind
suspended
until a classic race has ended.
For those high days can end in pain,
Or in a bottle of champagne.

So if the downward course is steep
Where smoke and flames and devils leap
I'll hope I'm on a hellish steed
Running his heart out with no need
For voice or spurs or flailing whip
To guarantee he gets the trip.

But if about the sixteenth pole
God should have mercy on my soul,
I hope He'll raise me to the clouds
Above the grandstand and the crowds
And there I'll take my ease, and wait
Behind the pearly starting gate.

And long before I break God's bread
Or buy a halo for my head
Or sink into a starry bed
Or say the prayers I should have said
Before the donuts, rolls, or coffees,
I'll find the secretary's office.

In my first interview, of course,
I'll ask St. Peter for a horse.
He'll lead me down the heavenly sheds
Past miles and miles of Thoroughbreds
And say,"Since you've escaped Old Nick ...
They're on the house; just take your pick".

So when old Gabriel's golden horn
Echoes from cloud to cloud each morn
And "It is post time" rings out clear
I will be ready with my gear;
My horse and I will not be late
(Though I'll be slightly overweight).

Then free from every mortal sin
(Including Butazolidin!)
We'll gallop through celestial fields
Where neither mist nor mud conceals
The graceful movements of the horse,
The wide and green and endless course.

Though some may think and I'll agree
That only God can make a tree,
Before God thought of trees, it's said,
His mind was on the Thoroughbred.


NOTE: Paul Mellon was the owner of Rokeby Stable a giant homebred operation. He was born a multimillionaire and made many philantropic contributions. He bred horses that won the Epsom Derby, the Arc and the KY Derby. He was an avid rider and engaged regularly in fox-hunting.

"Eclipse at Newmarket with Groom and Jockey" George Stubbs c.1770