Famous Movie Horses: Melbourne Cup Day 2012

This column was originally published in the Central Western Daily on Tuesday 6th November 2012.

Another year, another Melbourne Cup Day… How times flies. I swear that it was only twelve months ago since the last one. For a solitary day each year, the nation suddenly believes that it knows something about horse racing and then proceeds to lose its pocket money, or more. In just 3200 metres, one horse will triumph and by mid-afternoon will be heralded by an entire country. The next day, its name will be a fairly tricky trivia question.

In honour of Melbourne Cup Day and the fact that this will be my last column, here are my three most memorable movie horses. Oh, you didn’t know? I’m apparently going to win Oz Lotto tonight. When I bought my ticket, the newsagent assured me that it was the winning one. I don’t see any reason why he would lie to me. If by some mistake, I do not win the jackpot, I guess I’ll see you here next week.

3. OK, this one is a bit of cheat. It’s a tie between two horses in the same movie, Mel Brooks’ comedy classic, Blazing Saddles. The first is the unfortunate nag knocked out cold by a single punch from the dim witted Mongo, played by Alex Karras. It was only on Karras’ death this year that I discovered that he also played the dad in the eighties TV sitcom Webster. The second is the horse in the hilarious hanging scene. A criminal is at the gallows, astride his steed, waiting to be hanged. Both have nooses around their necks.

2. I’m not a huge fan of movies that set out to tug the heartstrings. You know, films that should be issued with a box of tissues, such as Beaches, Ghost, The Notebook and Porky’s. Steven Spielberg is a master of this sort of cinematic emotional manipulation, which is why I went to the movies to see War Horse with some trepidation. There’s nothing I hate more than a dusty cinema. I’m pleased to announce that I survived the experience (just) and that Joey the horse easily outacted the two legged thespians. Joey was actually portrayed by fourteen different animal performers because it’s a well known fact that horses have difficulty remembering their lines.

1. Here’s a trivia question for you. Which year did Khartoum win the Melbourne Cup? The answer is that he didn’t, mainly because he is fictional and secondly, it is rather hard to race without a head. That’s right, Khartoum in the champion racehorse decapitated and placed in movie producer, Jack Woltz’s bed to convince him to cast Johnny Fontane in a lead role. This and even more mob shenanigans take place in the film classic The Godfather, directed by Francis Ford Coppola. Apparently the horse’s head was real and acquired for the shoot from a pet food company.

Also-rans in this race include Maximus from Tangled, Daredevil from Sleepy Hollow and Farfelkugel from Robin Hood: Men in Tights. Best of luck to everyone for the “race that stops a nation” and the “lottery that reaches amazing jackpots because it is near impossible to win”.

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Published in: on December 25, 2012 at 08:59  Leave a Comment  
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