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Father Riley’s Horse
by [?]

And the priest would join the laughter; ‘Oh,’ said he, ‘I put him in,
For there’s five and twenty sovereigns to be won.
And the poor would find it useful, if the chestnut chanced to win,
And he’ll maybe win when all is said and done!’
He had called him Faugh-a-ballagh, which is French for clear the course,
And his colours were a vivid shade of green:
All the Dooleys and O’Donnells were on Father Riley’s horse,
While the Orangemen were backing Mandarin!

It was Hogan, the dog poisoner — aged man and very wise,
Who was camping in the racecourse with his swag,
And who ventured the opinion, to the township’s great surprise,
That the race would go to Father Riley’s nag.
‘You can talk about your riders — and the horse has not been schooled,
And the fences is terrific, and the rest!
When the field is fairly going, then ye’ll see ye’ve all been fooled,
And the chestnut horse will battle with the best.

‘For there’s some has got condition, and they think the race is sure,
And the chestnut horse will fall beneath the weight,
But the hopes of all the helpless, and the prayers of all the poor,
Will be running by his side to keep him straight.
And it’s what’s the need of schoolin’ or of workin’ on the track,
Whin the saints are there to guide him round the course!
I’ve prayed him over every fence — I’ve prayed him out and back!
And I’ll bet my cash on Father Riley’s horse!’

. . . . .

Oh, the steeple was a caution! They went tearin’ round and round,
And the fences rang and rattled where they struck.
There was some that cleared the water — there was more fell in and drowned,
Some blamed the men and others blamed the luck!
But the whips were flying freely when the field came into view,
For the finish down the long green stretch of course,
And in front of all the flyers — jumpin’ like a kangaroo,
Came the rank outsider — Father Riley’s horse!

Oh, the shouting and the cheering as he rattled past the post!
For he left the others standing, in the straight;
And the rider — well they reckoned it was Andy Regan’s ghost,
And it beat ’em how a ghost would draw the weight!
But he weighed it, nine stone seven, then he laughed and disappeared,
Like a Banshee (which is Spanish for an elf),
And old Hogan muttered sagely, ‘If it wasn’t for the beard
They’d be thinking it was Andy Regan’s self!’

And the poor of Kiley’s Crossing drank the health at Christmastide
Of the chestnut and his rider dressed in green.
There was never such a rider, not since Andy Regan died,
And they wondered who on earth he could have been.
But they settled it among ’em, for the story got about,
‘Mongst the bushmen and the people on the course,
That the Devil had been ordered to let Andy Regan out
For the steeplechase on Father Riley’s horse!