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A RUN FOR THE CUP
by Lily, 11, QLD

Crack! The explosion of the official’s starter gun echoed through the air, as my heart began to pound against my chest. The quivering mount beneath me burst eagerly from the barrier gate, her sleek, black body stretching out and then springing back as firmly and powerfully as an elastic band. I could feel her energy through my seat, poised over her neck, her eagerness to demonstrate the power that lay within. I held her back, not wishing to burn out her energy, which would diminish our chance to win. She obeyed, though rather reluctantly. We were doing just fine, boxed in by a big bay stallion and a snorting black mare. As we pounded along, my thoughts drifted.

This was The Stakes, a horse race for younger thoroughbreds to earn a career in racing, by placing or winning and hopefully being snapped up by a buyer and spurred on to a bountiful racing year. I worked for a man who trained and raced thoroughbreds to sell as bigger, more successful (and hopefully more expensive), racers. He hadn’t had a whole lot of success lately, but the horse I was riding, Black Diamond, was bringing him hope. She was nearly two, and showed a lot of
potential as a champion racer. The black filly had so far won all her maiden races and my boss wanted to build up her value as well as her record. If she kept on the way she was going, she would be a very valuable and expensive broodmare by the time she retired. This was why it was so important to win.

I was angry at myself, I needed my thoughts on the race, not my boss. I was around the middle of the pack, and slowly making my way to the front. Then, we crossed the halfway point. I decided to keep Black Diamond where she was, gently slipping past the other jockeys. Her power was unfaltering, a sleek body stretching and gathering, stretching and gathering. Her strong, flexible hooves pounded and tore at the track’s turf, leaving great gashes in the soft green padding. Soon, we were coming in third, our focus on Don Primo, the great bay beast that had been dominating first place since the start.

As we galloped into the final leg, I knew it was time to go full out. I raised my legs and brought them down firmly into Black Diamond’s sides, as my whip slashed the air and I called, ‘HUP’. She responded eagerly, as if she had been waiting for this moment. Her nostrils flared and her neck stretched out, her thunderous hooves fell into rhythm with my heart — bu-doom, bu-doom, bu-doom. Black Diamond’s sweaty flank brushed past the tiring grey mare that had held second place. Her rider shook his head, recognising defeat.

Then, there was just Don Primo and his jockey to go. He would be harder to pass as we were still in position at the rail and the only way to overtake was to push
between Don Primo’s heaving side and the hard white barrier rail. I weighed up our chances. Black Diamond was beginning to tire and the gap was small. Most horses wouldn’t be able to do it, but Black Diamond wasn’t like most horses. She was smaller, craftier and had way more heart than any other racehorse I had
ever ridden. The worst that could happen was second place and that wasn’t bad at all. But it wasn’t first. I decided to try.

I let loose a little more rein and gathered Black Diamond’s strength. I leant even further over her neck and brought my legs down on her sides. I waved the whip through the air and spurred her on with my heels. That did it. She surged forwards and squeezed through the gap, my leg knocking against the jockey’s stirrup. We were neck and neck, with twenty metres to go, when Black Diamond somehow found her last surge of energy. We were a nose ahead when the unwavering duo crossed the line.

I pulled her up to a canter, then a trot, before a tired, but triumphant walk. I dismounted and suddenly caught sight of Arlo Donatelli, my boss. He was cheering wildly, tears of joy running down his cheeks, hugging all within reach. He was an elderly man in a suit, but with more strength and stamina than any other old man I know. His shocked and elated expression betrayed all his joy at our first big win in four years. That was when I realised we had won. I turned, stunned beyond words, to Black Diamond.

“We’ve won The Stakes, my lady!” I whispered joyfully.
The mare just snorted as if she had known all along what the outcome would be. All the same, she held her head high and began a prance rather than a walk as we made our way through the scattering of tired, panting horses and their rather glum jockeys. I spotted Don Primo and his jockey, Jack Dunn. Jack looked sulky and disappointed, and he glared at me as I led Black Diamond past. I didn’t mind, for nothing could mar the memory of the day when I, Tim McArthy, won The
Stakes.


This is Lily’s first story published at Alphabet Soup. If YOU would like to send us a story, drawing, poem, or book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy writing!

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Today we have some excellent book reviews from the well-read year 2 students at St Thomas’ Primary School (Claremont, WA.) The class received a review copy of this picture book from the publishers.

REVIEWED BY ZARA, JACOB, LARA, JULIANA & BENEDICT

Fabish the horse that braved a bushfire

Fabish the horse that braved a bushfire by Neridah McMullin, ill. Andrew McLean, Allen and Unwin, ISBN 9781925266863

We like all the characters — Fabish (the horse), seven yearlings, the horse trainer and the race horses.

The story is about a horse who saves seven yearlings from a bushfire and about a farmer who was afraid the horses would die. Fabish the horse that braved a bush fire is a true story.

We definitely enjoyed the book. It was an exciting story that scared us and made us happy. We recommend this book to people who are interested in bushfires and adventures and horses. For all ages.


REVIEWED BY LUCA AND CAYDEN

This book is about a horse who saved the young horses from a bushfire. The wildfire reached the farm and the trainer told Fabrish to take the boys away from the bushfire. After the bushfire the farmer saw a rusty ute and drove off to the hill farm. Then the trainer heard rhythmic footsteps  and saw Fabish with the seven yearlings. The trainer and Fabish are the main characters. We liked the characters because Fabrish braved a bushfire and the trainer kept keeping his horses safe from the bushfire.


REVIEWED BY A SMALL LITERACY GROUP, YEAR 2

The characters were Fabish the horse, seven yearlings and the horse trainer. Fabish made us feel excited and brave, and we liked him because he saved the other horses. The trainer made us feel puffed out because he did so much work.

The book was about a bushfire on a farm that burned everything and a horse called Fabish (who saved seven yearlings by leading them away from the fire). The trainer went looking for Fabish after the fire and was very happy to find him with the seven yearlings. The book was fun to read, but it was a bit scary as well.

We liked the book because it was interesting and exciting and it was a true story. Our favourite parts were the bushfire and when Fabish and the yearlings came back. We learnt that you can die in a bushfire and that you should never go close to a bushfire.

We would recommend this book to Year 1 — Year 6 age students because it was a good adventure and had a good illustrator. The story also had lots of descriptive words, which we liked. We think people who like bushfires and horses would really enjoy this book a lot.


REVIEWED BY ALANA, RUBY AND GRACE

This story was a true story, because that was written in the blurb. The main characters are the farmer and Fabish the brave horse.

Fabish was our favourite character because he was brave and had a lovely heart and was beautiful-looking. He was a very smart horse because he led all the yearlings away from the bushfire.

The story starts off on a farm for race horses. Fabish was in charge of all the yearlings. Suddenly he was forced to lead the yearlings to safety because there was a frightening bushfire. The farmer stayed behind to protect the horses that were still in the stable.

We enjoyed the story because the author used interesting words! Neridah McMullin described the bushfire with good adjectives to show what it would feel like to be stuck in a bushfire.


REVIEWED BY A SMALL LITERACY GROUP, YEAR 2

This book is about a horse called Fabish and other horses caught in a bushfire.

There are two main characters in this story — Fabish and the farmer. Fabish is a big white horse. He is the farmer’s favourite horse and he is very brave. The farmer loved Fabish and he was a good farmer who looked after lots of horses. He trained the horses to race. He worried about Fabish.

It was very hot and a bushfire started. The trainer opened the gate and told Fabish to save the seven yearlings. Fabish ran off and the trainer was worried that he had been killed in the fire.

We liked the story because the bushfire was exciting but scary. Fabish was a lucky and brave horse. The story has lots of details and description.

We would recommend this book to all children and adults because it is a beautiful picture book.

Fabish the horse that braved a bushfire.


If you’d like to read more from St Thomas’ Primary students, you can click on ‘St Thomas Primary’ in the grey categories box in the right column of this blog. To send us YOUR book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy reading!

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