Ben and Jerry at the Races
By Simon Tilley
The biggest race meeting of the year was being held on Saturday at the Jump Down Racetrack. All the best horses in the country were going to be there. The biggest race of the year was at 2:30. The race was called The Jump Cup.
Ben had an uncle called Uncle Bob. He was a racehorse trainer. He was 52 years old and his face was weathered. Uncle Bob had a horse in the big race. The horse was called Silver Fox.
At Ben’s house, the day before the race, the telephone rang. Ben answered it. “Hello, who’s that?” asked Ben.
“Hello Ben, it’s Uncle Bob. Can I speak to your dad?”
“Just a minute,” said Ben. “Daaaaaaad, it’s Uncle Bob!”
Ben gave dad the phone. “Hello Bob, what’s up?”
“Hi John,” said Bob. “My horse Silver Fox is running in The Jump Cup tomorrow. Do you want to go?”
“Yes of course I do,” said Dad, “How many tickets can I have?”
“How many tickets do you want?” asked Bob.
“Can I have four?” asked Dad.
“Okay,” said Bob. “Pick them up tonight.”
That night Uncle Bob gave Dad four tickets. One each for Mom, Dad and Ben, and a spare one.
““I have a spare ticket.” said Dad. “Who wants it?”
Ben asked if his friend Jerry could go. “Can Jerry go?”
“Good idea,” said Dad. “Telephone and ask him.”
Ben phoned Jerry. “Hey, Jerry do you want to go to The Jump Down Racetrack on Saturday? My uncle has a horse in the big race.”
“I’d love to go,” said Jerry.
“Okay, we’ll pick you up at ten thirty.”
At 10:30 on Saturday morning they picked up Jerry and went to the racetrack. They met Uncle Bob and his horse Silver Fox. Silver fox was a handsome racehorse.
“Oh that’s a beautiful horse,” said Jerry. “Will it win the race?”
“It has an outside chance,” said Uncle Bob. “But don’t put your hopes up too high. There are other good horses in the race.” Uncle Bob then gave Ben a race card and pointing with his finger said. “The black horse wearing number one is the favourite. He should win.”
It was now 2:15 and all the horses were walking to the start. Excitement was in the air. People were shouting and cheering. Ben and Jerry got excited and began to shout too. “We’re going to win! We’re going to win. Come on Silver Fox!”
“Don’t put your hopes up too high,” said Dad. “The horses have to jump fences. Some will fall down. Let’s see what happens.”
The race was about to start. There were six horses in the race. Silver fox was wearing number five.
From the loudspeaker you could hear this:
“And they’re off! Over the first fence, and number one is in front. Then number two, then number three, then number four, then number five, then number six. Over the next fence, and number one is still in front. Over the next and number one is joined by number two. Over the next and… oh, wait… Oh no! What happened there? Number one has fallen! The favourite has gone! The crowd are going crazy! Anyone can win it now! Over the next and number two is clearly in front and going strong. Towards the final fence and number two is still going strong, but wait! Here comes Silver Fox! Silver Fox is coming fast! Over the final fence and Silver Fox jumped it like a deer! They’re neck and neck, who will win? The crowd are going wild! Twenty meters to go! Number five! Number two! Number five! Number two! Oh, number two wins by a nose!”
The other horse had won The Jump Cup by a nose! So close! Unbelievable! How terrible it was that Silver Fox had lost. Ben and Jerry felt sad.
Uncle Bob was over the moon. “Yippeeeee!!” he said. “Good luck to the winner!”
“Why are you so happy? asked Ben. “We didn’t win!”
“I didn’t put my hopes up too high,” said Uncle Bob. “But people can see I am a good trainer. I trained the second-best racehorse in the country.”
“Congratulations! said Dad, “Fantastic finish and so close!”
The congratulations went on for some time until Ben said, to everyone’s amusement, “Next time train horses with longer noses.”
He still felt bad about losing.
On the way home Dad said, “If you don’t put your hopes up too high, sometimes coming second can feel like winning.”
Then Jerry joked, “I hope we finish last next year, but I won’t put my hopes up too high.”
Dad said, “What I mean to say is, try hard to win but don’t expect to win. That way you won’t feel so bad when you lose.”
Fun things to do.
1. Find, circle and say these ten words:
Racetrack, tickets, fences, cheering, hopes, loud, speaker, second, Daaaaaaaad!, moon.
2. What’s Ben’s dad’s name?
3. What does ‘spare’ mean?
A. Two B. Additional C.Useless D. Useful
4. What was the name of the horse race?
A. Silver Fox B. The Jump Cup. C. The Race Cup D. The Jump Down Racetrack
5. Discuss – Why should you be aware of putting your hopes up too high?- Total nr. of readings: 310 Copyright © The author  All Rights Reserved. This story may not be reproduced without the express written permission of the author except for personal use.