We raced against horse and it was epic
It was man against machine recently at the Singapore Turf Club. Biker Boy raced against a horse and the resulting race was pretty close.
It was a scorching afternoon last Wednesday.
The two adversaries, one bred for speed, the other for revving, faced off in the first horse versus motorcycle race at the Singapore Turf Club (STC).
With the blessings and support of the STC, I took a 350cc dirt bike on a head-to-head drag race.
My worthy opponent? Haizum. A six-year-old thoroughbred and former racehorse who has scored two second and two third placings on the podium.
On paper, it seemed like a no-brainer.
The top speed of the KTM 350 EXC-F is about 110kmh. The top speed of a horse is between 60 and 65kmh.
Granted, I had more than 30 ponies compared to Haizum’s “one” horsepower.
Yet, I was racing on Haizum’s home turf. Plus, before the race, Haizum had pooped beside my motorcycle.
It was also wearing a number 13 saddlecloth.
Were these signs bad luck for me?
Plus, STC’s synthetic polytrack, the “going” wasn’t too good for the bike. I had experienced front-end chatter during a warm-up lap and I wasn’t feeling too quick on my KTM.
To be fair to the horse, I suggested starting my race from the 600m mark while Haizum began his from the 400m post. Besides the 200m advantage, Haizum was allowed to canter before going into a full gallop at the 400m mark to the finish line.
Secretly, I had asked a friend to calculate the chances of beating the horse.
There was a chance, she said. Only if I stuck to my top speed, she warned.
When Haizum sauntered past me, I started to worry a little — he seemed too eager to break into a gallop.
HAVE TO STAY COOL
Yet, I needed to stay cool. I had to wait for an official to drop his red flag to signal the start of my run.
People, some of whom stood beside the track or had briefly stopped work to watch the race, looked equally anxious.
I could feel the tension as I revved up the engine to help with the initial surge of power.
But when the flag dropped as Haizum crossed the 400m post, I briefly struggled to keep traction to the rear wheel.
Almost immediately, my confidence was shattered. I realised I would not able to hit my bike’s top speed due to starting from a bend.
When I finally straightened up my bike near the 400m post, Haizum was a small figure in the distance.
I made three clutchless gear shifts with the throttle wide open, hoping to gain on Haizum.
Under a screaming engine with a maximum speed of 110kmh, I slowly closed in on Haizum, which had about 100m to complete its race.
Gunning past the 200m mark towards the winning post, the horse had a large lead.
I hissed under my breath about using a large rear sprocket which gave my bike its punch but sacrificed top speed.
Gritting my teeth, I hunkered down.
It seemed to take forever before I gained on him, inch by inch.
Somewhere near the 50m mark, I came up head to head with the horse, and there, barely managed to overtake him.
Finally, machine crossed the winning post with Haizum trailing by only two horse lengths.
At a holding area on the Polytrack, I congratulated Mr Rosli Ahmad, 48, the jockey who had expertly steered Haizum.
A beaming Mr Rosli said in Malay: “I didn’t expect Haizum to have the stamina to run all the way. He didn’t hesitate at all and gave 100 per cent.”
I was equally impressed by the horse’s brutal burst of energy. It could all have gone in Haizum’s favour.
I left STC feeling respectful of race horses and humbled by what I had just experienced. Right down to the finish line, it was almost unclear who would win the race — the thoroughbred steed or bike.
Haizum can proudly hold its head high for being the only horse in the STC stables to race and very nearly beat a more powerful machine.