23 November, 2014. 12:43
ERROL PARKER | Editor-at-large | [email protected]
PRICELESS RELICS FROM Betoota’s history have been uncovered in the roof of the Hotel this morning.
Amongst the discoveries was a poem written by former publican Sigmund Remienko, proving that playing host to many of Australia’s premier songwriters and poets over the years certainly rubbed off on him.
It is with great privilege and excitement that we’re able to publish Sigmund’s only known poem in today’s edition of the Advocate.
The Mean Old Betoota Mare
by Sigmund Remienko
The day was a warm winter glow, the dew had already lifted,
the pub was open, the sands had earlier shifted.
Tomorrow was Betoota cup day, the crowds began to flock,
from far and wide they came, the furthest from Bangkok.
Most showed up for the party, others for the business,
But when the dust settled in the night, there was only one thing left to witness.
Old Carmen from Mount Hope, reckons she stood at nineteen hands,
that mean grey mare, that horse from the Betoota bad lands.
Quickest over a mile, fresh from a win over at Quilpie,
She chomped at the bit and could gallop ’til afternoon tea.
A true people’s champion, sure to win the race,
the short price favourite, should sweep in with breathing space.
The night before the cup, the people just had to look,
but somewhere in the sea of faces, lurked the most crafty crook.
That mean old Betoota mare, she just lay there as the folk shuffled past,
like a night time attraction, that nobody dared lambaste.
But little did her adoring fans, the ones that came from afar,
would stand eye witness, to the death of a superstar.
Daylight broke over Betoota, the ringers had the billy on hours before,
Today was cup day, as the generator started with a mighty roar.
The owners and trainers, they fed their nags on lucerne hay,
it gave a horse a fighting chance, should make ’em run all day.
For had they known, that the mean old Betoota mare,
just had her last meal, and that her fall would be felt in Time Square.
The money came in hard and fast, the Betoota mare was a shoe in,
people gathered at the finish line, tickets in hand with a grin.
The bookie’s pockets were overflowing, coins and notes littered their feet,
race time drew nearer, punters were on the edge of their seat.
Gate crews were ready, the last pony was in and locked,
bellow went the bell, the gates were rocked.
Twelve runners in the field, only eleven would finish,
it wasn’t really that long, until that Betoota mare began to diminish.
This mean old mare Betoota mare, began coughing and bucking,
she threw the jockey, but that mare kept on trucking.
Foam slopped from the mouth, her coat glistened with sweat,
she was too far gone, screaming like a clarinet.
A gallop slowed to a canter, followed by a trot,
everybody there knew, that this’d end with a veterinarian’s gun shot.
Somewhere just short of a mile, that mean Betoota mare fell and began to seize,
tables of women began to weep, men threw their tickets to the breeze.
A ghostly silence fell over the crowd, a haunting peace broken only by cries.
Not a dry eye stood track side that afternoon, although most blamed it on the flies.
The mean Betoota mare was now dead, with it the money and good times ahead,
theories started forming in the crowds, for what could’ve killed this thoroughbred.
First it was shock, then a case of mild confusion,
the crowd began to yell and shout, yet they all came to the same conclusion.
Why that Betoota mare slowly fell, all the way to last place,
was a mystery to most, but I know the truth behind this race.
For it was I, the man who writes you directly,
the very same one, who dingo-baited that horse perfectly.
You see this Betoota mare, the unstoppable force,
was sure to beat the rest, but I agree it was coarse.
For me to poison that horse, but trust me, it’s something you’d endorse.
It was my horse that was second best, a good pony but none-the-less,
not a champion in her own right, but never did fail to impress.
I had the debts that no honest man could pay, I needed a big win to stay afloat,
for it’s a hard life surround by desert, where a pub without beer is a useful as a motorboat.
My horse was paying eight to one, if I put the last pennies on it,
the night wouldn’t close in, perhaps we’d carry on in spirit.
As fate would have it, my horse came from behind to win,
elated and ecstatic, they heard me screaming in Berlin.
As the evening stole the sun, the crowd descended on the Betoota Hotel,
not much of a water hole, truly defined by it’s clientele.
The men and women came to drown their sorrows, as their savings were now gone,
the beaten and broken sat at the bar, with their bank accounts well overdrawn.
Little did they know, if their mean old Betoota mare came in first,
they’d be sitting out under the stars, no drink in hand and feeling cursed.
I took the winnings and paid the bills, cold beer from Birdsville arrived just in time,
It’s not easy owning a pub that’s only busy one day of the year, even when it’s not worth a dime.
Don’t ask me if I’m sorry, because you’ll seldom get an answer,
I’d rather lie down, and let my guilt be eaten by skin cancer.
For it’s the only place for miles, and for the price of a horse I’d say it’s worth it sincerely,
to kill that mare and watch it die before me, it felt rather cavalierly.
You’ll find the Betoota Hotel, up the road around the bend,
There they’ll tell the tale at the last outback, at the world’s end.
Of the mean old mare that died mid-race, the truth unknown to all – even old Carmen,
But if you must know the truth, go and ask the barman.