mánudagur, maí 05, 2008


Poor old horse! Poor young filly. Eight Belles stumbles and splinters. Do not search for the photographs. They are horrible: not of a gunshot to the temple (she was given the needle) but of sickeningly bent forelimbs.

Far sturdier horses have raced for thousands of years. The Norse raced the stocky ancestors of Norwegian fjordings and Icelandic horses on tracks called skeiðar. Iceland is still dotted with place names ending in -skeið. There is also a town in Lancashire, England called Hesketh, which was once hestaskeið. The Norse were there -- not the Danes, as in York, but Norwegians. At some point, Hesketh acquired lords.

The Heskeths (Heskeyths, Heskaiths, &c.) are easily traceable to within a few generations of 1275. The present Lord is Thomas Alexander Fermor-Hesketh, 3rd Baron Hesketh KBE PC. Lord Hesketh is best known for his interest in formula one cars. He founded Hesketh Racing, constructed cars, and assembled a team that competed until 1978. In 1980, he turned to motorcycles, and the Hesketh V1000 was born, followed in later years by the Hesketh Vampire. The company staggered and collapsed in 1982, but first Hesleydon Ltd. and then Broom Development Engineering took up production.

Broom also seems to be the one to turn to for repair, should your Hesketh show signs of needing it, but the cycle is so well-engineered that you may never have to call. The frame is "light but rigid," and the telescopic front forks are "renowned for rigidity, excellent damping and long service life."

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