Tomorrow we have the holiest day in the horse racing calendar. Trainers work their horses and jockeys for months and months on end to culminate in a few minutes of intense worship every year at this time. For a few visceral minutes, man, horse and G-d connect in an act of absolute soul searing joy or pain. The latter is dependent on who wins of course, the grueling two mile or 3200 metres races.
Man or woman does his or her best to train or ride the winner in this momentous race and G-D does the rest.
The weather is dependent on a great power than man could ever hope to wield. We have had some trainers who think they are G-D like in their approach and achievement, Bart Cummings, for example, he is the closest thing we have to Royalty in the horse racing world and his laurels are more than deserved. He has taken 11 or 12 cups.
Another being worthy of the title of a Cup King is the horse that won the Caulfield Cup, the Melbourne Cup and the Cox Plate in the same Spring Racing carnival in 1954, the year of my birth. Shivers me timbers, you now know how ancient this author is. Rising Fast's feat in the Melbourne cup carrying nearly 60 kgs (9stone 5 pounds) has been unequalled in Melbourne Cup history and until the great mare Makybe Diva won in 2005 with the number one saddle cloth and top weight, no horse has come close to the effort of this nuggety little stayer. He has a double cross to Spearmint in his sire Alonzo's blood lines and Polymelus appears on both his Dam Faster and his Sire's bloodlines. My late father used to say he was better than Phar Lap but that was not to take away from that great horse's record. It was only to indicate that Rising Fast's feat was not given the publicity that it deserved. He won on a soft or heavy track lugging a huge weight and there was interference as well. It was truly a remarkable feat of stamina and perserverance to the end. Many years ago, on our station, our station sire Yarramanbar also carried Spear Felt and Spearmint blood lines and also Carbine blood as my father and his father, my grandfather respected the progeny of that great horse very much.
Bart Cummings has two runners in the Melbourne Cup tomorrow. They are Illo and Precedence No 14 and No 11 - they are running from Barriers 1 and 2. Interesting that Bart was able to get his horses both inside barriers. May the racing angels smile on the cup king again this year.
What lesson can we learn from the Melbourne Cup and how can we relate it to Torah and Hashem? Just imagine that our life is a series of Melbourne Cup missions. We prepare with the greatest care and diligence each year for the moment of ultimate teshuva on Yom Kippur. In this case we have a whole 25 hours or so to reflect, to pray and work on improving our lives and selves and it happens once a year. It is our Melbourne Cup and we must work hard for the long slog every day of the year, knowing when to rest and when to really train. The only difference is that out of 24 runners in the Melbourne Cup there is only one winner but still it is a honour to have just been in the race. With Yom Kippur if you really do the training and hard yakka, we all come away triumphant with a Melbourne Cup to put into our mental display cabinet and we are spiritually better off and fitter human beings because of it.
Back a winner tomorrow and I not saying it is certain but I am a fan of Bart Cummings and there fore I will flutter on his two horses and put a 1 dollar each way on Shamrock for the luck of the Irish. :-)