The picture shows my horse Sobig winning a race at Brighton, Tasmania.
An old trotting driver named Tom congratulated me on the win. He then told me a wonderful story.

The hare and the tortoise

Aesop's fable tells how the tortoise got so far behind the hare that the hare stopped for a rest. The tortoise kept going, went past the sleeping hare, and won the race.

This horse-racing story is not a fable but a fact. It tells how the tortoise got so far behind the hare that the tortoise stopped for a rest, not the hare. The hare kept going. Then the tortoise, as in Aesop's fable, went past the hare and won the race. How could that happen?

Tom told me that a few decades earlier he, too, had won a race at Brighton, when it was a bush track. He owned a mare called Trial Offer that he also trained and drove in its races. The horse wasn't much good and in this race she was the rank outsider with the bookmakers. Despite seeming to have almost no chance of winning, Tom bet on her for a small fortune.

Brighton racecourse is a big track, about the size of Elwick, and on this occasion there was a patch of thick fog at the back of the course opposite the grandstand. The race distance was a little less than two laps and so the race started about a furlong down the track from the winning post. The race got under way and Trial Offer trailed along, like a tortoise, at the rear of the field. When Tom entered the fog patch he stopped his horse and took her to the outside of the track and hid behind a clump of trees. The race continued and a couple of minutes later the other runners came around on their second lap. No sooner had they gone past than Tom brought Trial Offer out of hiding and tagged on to the tail of the field. On the home turn he made his move, urging her out wide in the run down the home straight. In the dash to the winning post, the other runners, now tiring from their prolonged exertions, were unable to withstand the burst of speed from Tom's still-fresh horse.

During the short delay awaiting validation or otherwise of the race, Tom wondered, "Did the stewards fail to notice the absence of Trial Offer the first time past the post, being only concerned with the horses they saw in front of them?" And would he be collecting the winner's trophy and the prize money for the race and a fortune in the bets he had with the bookies?

A minute later the All Clear siren sounded. Tom had got away with it! The tortoise had won!