Thursday, June 09, 2011

For Want of a Nail...Queen's Colt Loses Epsom Derby (and a Shoe)

If you look closely at this photo by David Davies/PA mirrored from The Guardian newspaper in England, you can see Carlton House's shoe landing on the grass of the Epsom Racecourse as he was charging home in the 2011 Epsom Derby last weekend. 

Carlton House (red sleeves) was favored to win, and his victory would have brought great joy to his owner, Great Britain's Queen Elizabeth, who is now 85 years old and hasn't ever won the race. 

Carlton House was a gift to the Queen from Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai. The Queen was watching it all from the royal box, and must believe, like all racehorse owners, that she'll make it to the winner's circle next year.

"Just wait until next year," she seems to be thinking as her colt finished third. Hopefully no "off with his head!"  thoughts crossed her mind! (Reuters/Suzanne Pluckett photo via Fotoglif)

For want of a nail, the shoe was lost;
For want of the shoe, the horse was lost;
For want of the horse, the rider was lost;
For want of the rider, the battle was lost;
For want of the battle, the kingdom was lost;
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.
(--unknown; English nursery rhyme and moralist tale, dating back to 1390)

Just a few weeks ago, the Queen was laughing and smiling at the Irish National Stud. The farriers there were delighted to meet her. She might be thinking of the age-old frailties of the hoof this week, as she experiences the universal highs and lows of owning racehorses.

In fairness, according to observers, the shoe was lost after the colt's chance of winning had passed and didn't affect the order of finish.

Fear not, our friend and intrepid British racing journalist and broadcaster Graham Cunningham was seen sporting the shoe after the race. Note the extended pinky. Is that the proper way to hold a horseshoe, as one would hold a china teacup? If that's in a royal etiquette book somewhere, let us know! (Courtesy of Graham Cunningham)

Click here to order the hoof wall anatomy poster.

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