Suddenly there are as many as people. Smooth and sleek and calm at first, paraded with their little jockeys hitching a ride. Even through the TV they are differently shaped to the rough nags you might see though a hedge or from a train window: their musculature bulges satisfyingly.
Someone remarks upon a group demonstrating out of picture against all this. Ah yes: this is why. The stories of great writhing lumps of horse put down and relieved of their misery. Out of picture, behind the evergreen too-high jumps, one might gallop furiously on its side or lay utterly still, as if balancing nitro-glycerine. Eyes wide as they can, the vet and his medical gun reflected.
And everyone looks smart. But when the camera focuses in close there’s spittle around lips and one starts bucking then kicking out. Forty or more line up behind the wire until there’s a surge and one garrottes itself until the wire breaks and flings back to smash one of the TV cameras. A starting mechanism is ruined so men have to hold the line across the track, as straight as they can. Tonnes of horse muscle rubbing and pushing at the wire. A few minutes become super-dense with an inevitability being held at bay. They cant hold the wire across for long.
Crowd noise surges and moves like a murmuration of starlings. Red faced men lean out of their conversations towards the edge of the track to see in the distance how a river of dark, bucking meat is held back invisibly.
The wire is down and they’re away and it’s over before starting. In the bookies anyone winning lost a long time ago.