On a little old bush racecourse at the back of No Man’s Land,
Where the mulgas mark the furlong, and a dead log marks the stand,
There’s a square of painted railing showing white against the loam
Where they fight for inside running as they round the bend for home;
Just a lonely grave and graveyard that are left to Nature’s care,
For the wild bush-flowers that brighten it were never planted there;
No monument or marble that will speak his praise or blame.
No verse to tell his story and no mark to prove his name,
But carved upon the white rail that is weather-worn and thin
Is the simple, rough-hewn legend: He Always Rode To Win!
Some poor, uncared-for jockey-boy, who never earned a name —
It’s the boys who “rides to order” who can’t find the road to Fame;
And the flowers and marble head-stones and the wealth of gear and gold
Are the prizes of the riders who will “stop them” when they’re told!
Just a whisper at the saddling: “He’s the only danger, Dan,
That’s the boy will try to beat you — stop him, any way you can.”
Just a crowding at the corner and a crossing in the straight
And a plucky little horseman who is “pulling out” too late;
A heavy fall, a loose horse — and a lightweight carried in — ,
A shallow grave, a railing, and: He Always Rode to Win!
Some brave, brown-handed comrade who has learned the rider’s worth
Has carved those rough words for him for the eyes of all the earth;
And though few may chance to pass him as he lies in simple state
Those few will hold him honoured by the friendship of his mate.
And when, in life’s keen struggle, we shall fight for inside place.
When they crowd us at the corner and we drop from out the race,
When the ringing hoofs go forward and the cheering greets the best,
And the prize is for the winner and the red spurs for the rest,
May we find some true-heart camaraderie, when they’ve filled the last clods in,
Who will carve these words above us: He Always Rode to Win!
Although I love the romantic vision of tragic poetry, I prefer more upbeat entertainment on the whole. If you like a little more cheek with your rhymes, be sure to check out a particularly horsey excerpt of Shakespeare’s Henry V.