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Friday, 14 December, 2018

Getting the goat, monkeying around, pigging out and crowing about it

It's a zoo out there as far as racehorses are concerned

Almaty Express with his pal and companion Billy the goat
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1 Susie the snow-white nanny goat was almost as big a celebrity as her Grand National-winning 'stablemate' Foinavon, whose lad Cliff Booth found himself acting as part-time milkmaid. "When I milked her, the horses all used to shout for it, and I took round the bucket and let them have a drink," he said, noting that of his two charges, the bigger one was the easier to deal with. "I couldn't leave the goat on its own, it always had to climb somewhere, always be trouble."

2 Charlie the pig saved the bacon of the Bruce Brown-trained sprinter Strong Impact, whose welcoming nature on the backstretch at Belmont earned him a new pal. "The pig went into every stall in the barn and all the horses were kicking and biting him, but Strong Impact didn't do anything," yardman Andres Garcia told the New York Times. "Now the horse worries when Charlie isn't in the stall."

3 Csalogany the cat was the boon companion of Hungarian legend Kincsem, and the horse was obsessed with her 'pet'. One day Kincsem was waiting to be loaded on a train but the cat was nowhere to be found. For two hours Kincsem planted herself and would not move, hollering constantly for her friend. Eventually Csalogany came running back, leapt on the mare's back, and Kincsem calmly boarded the train.

4 Shetland ponies were the only animals that would do for 1918 Kentucky Derby winner Exterminator, who spent his entire life after he was retired with three little hairy pals all named Peanuts. The polyamorous love affair lasted 21 years, until Peanuts III died in 1944. "When the last one died, the mourning of Exterminator was unmistakable," noted The Blood-Horse.

5 Jo Jo the spider monkey was an exotic addition to the entourage of the great Seabiscuit, which included a stray dog named Pocatell and a yellow cow pony called Pumpkin. Trainer Tommy Smith enlarged The Biscuit's stall in Detroit to accommodate Pumpkin; legend has it that Seabiscuit drifted off to sleep each night with Pumpkin on one side of him, Pocatell on his stomach and Jo Jo curled up on his neck.

6 Nobby the sheep helped soothe the restless Champion Chase winner Remittance Man. "The horse worried himself to bits in his box, walked round and round in circles, so we put a sheep in there to try to calm him down," said trainer Nicky Henderson. "We gave him 'Allan Lamb', then 'Ridley Lamb', and then we put Nobby in with him, and that was a success."

7 A crow – its name lost in antiquity, if it ever had one – accompanied 1914 Kentucky Derby runner-up Hodge, according to turf historian Jim Bolus. It was taught to perch on a rail and squawk "Come on Hodge! Come on Hodge!"

8 Two goats were better than one for Breeders' Cup Marathon winner Eldaafer. When the gelding was shipped from Florida for a race at Turfway Park, goat Google was left behind. Eldaafer was inconsolable and refused to train on the track. At home, Google was equally distraught. The goat was put on a plane, the two were reunited, and Eldaafer perked up enough to win his race. Another goat, Yahoo, was purchased as insurance in case anything happened to Eldaafer's main squeeze.

9 Sancho the grey cat adopted Breeders' Cup Sprint winner Runhappy, who happened to be in the right place at the right time. "He's always hung out with Happy, maybe partly because his stall is right by the office – that was the first horse he came to," trainer Laura Wohlers told Natalie Voss, of the Paulick Report. "Sancho really watches him. It's really strange, he'll lie in front of Happy while he's grazing and Happy'll just step over him."

10 One of the most celebrated equine love affairs was between the great filly Pebbles and stablemate Come On The Blues, who were inseparable at Clive Brittain's yard. "Pebbles is very uptight, very fractious before a race. She needs Come On The Blues to calm her down," said Brittain. "They are in adjacent boxes and spend hours looking at each other. Their relationship is like a happy marriage."

Pebbles: the great filly and stablemate Come On The Blues were inseparable

The pig went into every stall in the barn and all the horses were kicking and biting him, but Strong Impact didn't do anything
E.W. Terms
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