The Great Goat Race at Spitalfields city farm gives Cambridge the blues
- Credit: Archant
The Great Goat Race alternative to the traditional Oxford and Cambridge contest for humans attracted 1,100 spectators to London’s East End this year.
The spectators packed Spitalfields City Farm where Hamish the Goat, dressed as an Oxford Dark Blue, beat off his rival half-brother Hugo trotting for the Light Blues.
The annual event, which sold out days before, was staged at the same time as Saturday afternoon’s race on the Thames between the top universities, as an alternative for those preferring to see the animals at the urban farm off Brick Lane.
Oxford scored a double victory on the Thames that day — starting with the men’s race and, for the first time in the 161-year history of the Varsity boat challenge, the first ever all-women’s race on the same river course.
But there was no such equality at Spitalfields City Farm — it was strictly “a billy goat affair” with half-brother competing against half brother.
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Hamish took an early lead for Oxford and trotted to an easy win in 57 seconds, his dark blue coat falling off half-way along the course — which Cambridge fans felt may have made things lighter for him.
“Those two race each other every day,” farm manager Mhairi Weir told the East London Advertiser. “They rush up to the stable for their food when we let them out of the paddocks at feeding time.”
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Hamish was awarded a trophy of mixed fruit and vegetables, but was generous enough to “divvy up” with Hugo and let him have a share of the spoils.
“The crowds loved it,” Mhairi added. “It always amazes me why people love the Goat Race so much.
“We have to sell tickets in advance, otherwise we get thousands turning up — it’s manic.”
The fundraiser had live music, food stalls and a bar for humans and a “carrygoaty” contest where competitors had to sing like goats.
It earned the farm £10,000 to pay for all the animal feed and vets’ bills.
But it didn’t go all Oxford’s way, fans of the Light Blues would be please to hear.
Two of the farmyard pigs had a preliminary race before the main event, where litter brothers Watson and Holmes took on the colours for their own varsity race.
Holmes won by a snout for the Light Blues. Trust the pigs to buck the trend!