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Jim’s Australiana Spot – 2UE - May 29, 2016


A Few Weeks Ago We Looked At All The Phrases We Use From Our Nautical History - today we look at how important horses were
Horses were the only means of transport in Australia until the coming of the railways in the 1860s. They were used for personal and business transport  and racing them was also the most popular form of entertainment.

Questions - explain the ORIGIN of these terms

1 Straight from the horse's mouth
  Truth of a horse's age can ONLY been seen from its TEETH
2 He's a bit of a Drongo
  Drongo was a racehorse who started 37 times in good races and never won
3 To curry favour with someone
  Combing and grooming as flattery - from an old tale about a horse who takes over a kingdom

Also ran. Back-in-the-saddle. Chomping at the bit. Kicking over the traces, Feeling his oats. Getting a leg up. Hack. Hold your horses. Horsing around. Keeping a tight rein. Putting someone through their paces. i.e. walk, trot, canter or pace. The term implies that a possible candidate is being tested for basic knowledge. Putting the cart before the horse. a bit long in the tooth. Spurred into action. Straight from the horse's mouth. Unbridled. Well in hand. You can see who holds the reins.

DRONGO a couple of generations ago the term was common in our vernacular. It means loser, no-hoper. But in the 1920s, Drongo was a much-liked racehorse who ran second in the Victoria Derby and three days later finished behind Bitalli in the Cup. Drongo never won a race from 37 starts - all at metropolitan track meetings and mostly stakes races. Hence the expression that someone might be "a bit of a drongo".

CURRY FAVOUR comes from an Old French verb conraier - 'to prepare', the name for the rubbing down and dressing of horses - curry-combing. It was originally not 'favour' but 'favel'. An old morality tale relates the story of Fauvel, an ambitious and vain horse, who deceives and corrupts the leaders of the state. The name Fauvel is an acrostic made a version of the seven deadly sins: In the story, the rich and powerful humiliate themselves by bowing down and stroking the coat of the false leader, a horse.


It makes us old hands sick and tired to hear
Them talk of their champions of today,
Eurythmics and Divides (yes, I’ll have a beer)
Are only fair hacks in their way.

Now this happened out West before records were took,
And ’tis not to be found in the guide,
But it’s honest – Gor’ struth, and can’t be mistook,
For it happened that I had the ride.

‘Twas the Hummer’s Creek Cup, and our mare, Flying Kate,
Was allotted eleven stone two;
The race was two miles, you’ll agree with me mate,
It was asking her something to do.

She was heavy in foal, but the owner and me
Decided to give her a spin,
We were right on the rocks, ’twas the end of a spree,
So we needed a bit of a win.

I saddled her up and went down with the rest,
Her movements were clumsy and slow,
The starter to get us in line did his best,
Then swishing his flag he said, ‘Go!’

The field jumped away but the mare seemed asleep,
And I thought to myself, ‘We’ve been sold,’
Then I heard something queer, and I felt I could weep,
For strike me if Kate hadn’t foaled.

The field by this time had gone half-a-mile,
But I knew what the old mare could do,
So I gave her a tap with the whip – you can smile,
But the game little beast simply flew.

’Twas then she showed them her wonderful speed,
For we mowed down the field one by one,
With a furlong to go we were out in the lead,
And prepared for a last final run.

Then something came at us right on the outside,
And we only just scratched past the pole,
When I had a good look I thought I’d have died,
For I’m blowed if it wasn’t the foal.


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