And now for something a little different. At 4.30pm on Saturday 3rd April much of the nation’s focus was on the River Thames and the 156th University Boat Race. Whilst the True Blues and the Light Blues were fighting it out boat to boat, crew to crew and oar to oar, two go-getting goats (one named Bentley representing Oxford, one named Bramble representing Cambridge, began their dash to the finish line in the 2nd Annual Oxford vs. Cambridge Goat Race just a few miles away at Spitalfields City Farm in East London.
Following on from last year’s inaugural Goat Race in 2009 which saw Cambridge’s pygmy goat storm home to victory in front of a roaring crowd of over 400 people, the Goat Race 2010 immediately became an unmissable date in the diaries of all lovers of goat racing and fans fascinated in a bit of farmyard fun. This year over 900 supportive fans wearing everything from Rowing Lycra to Boat Club Jackets gathered to pass on their encouragement in the glorious Easter Saturday sunshine to the two goats in what is fast becoming a much appreciated alternative to the traditional Boat Race.
This year’s goat race had an extra edge to it as this year the competitors were brother and sister. Nothing better than a bit of sibling rivalry! The hype surrounding the goats’ sibling rivalry had been elevated by Spitalfields Life, a blog about life in the East End neighbourhood, to “a compelling psychodrama.” With the bets having been placed, the goats psyched up and the course cleared for the goats, the question which all people were asking themselves on the start line was who would be taking the limelight? It is fair to say that the cut yet shy Bramble and the lumbering Bentley did not fail to disappoint. In a close fought race, it was Bentley who stormed into an early lead but was eventually caught up and just pipped at the post by a nose by the craftier, and perhaps hungrier, Bramble. Thus, the 2010 Oxford vs. Cambridge Goat Race was, for the second consecutive year, won by Cambridge in an explosive time of 1min 14 seconds. Furthermore, this victory compounded with The Boat Race ensured a double delight for the Light Blues for this year, at least.
Giving her post-race reaction, Oxford’s ‘trainer’ stated that Bentley had been experiencing some health problems that may well have prevented him from giving his best performance thus aiding his opposite number. If health issues are to be believed, the result may not have come as much of a surprise for avid followers of the event. Nevertheless, questions will undoubtedly be asked over Bentley’s desire and bookies and followers of the race alike will undoubtedly be interested to see if he is chosen to represent Oxford track for a third time.
Apart from the main attraction of the goat racing, the annual event is held to raise money for and awareness of the Spitalfields City Farm Charity. This year a magnificent £3,400 was raised, £3000 of which was made from tickets and bets alone! Al the money raised from the event will go to providing a great help in the feeding of the animals and the overall running of the farm.
So whilst Cambridge’s Bramble reflects upon another victory and remains the undisputed ‘Golden Guernsey,’ Bentley will have time to reflect upon his performance and assess all the possibilities that lie ahead of him. Questions as to whether Bentley will be back to race again next year or whether a change in the Oxford goat guard is about to take place are still to be answered, however all we can hope for is that next year it’s third time lucky for Oxford!
For more pictures and a video from The Oxford vs. Cambridge Goat Race 2010 see http://www.thegoatrace.org/pictures-video