Sailors love to spin yarns about shipwrecks, real and imagined. The more outrageous and unbelievable the better. Apparently so too do horse racing enthusiasts.
A recent Sydney Morning Herald article recounted the legend of Moiffa, the only New Zealand bred-and-owned jumper to win England’s Grand National. The tale, concocted by an “imaginative American journalist” went something like this: Moiffa, sailing from Sydney to Liverpool, fell victim to shipwreck in the Irish Sea. Undaunted, the fearless stallion plunged into the water, saving its life by swimming fifty miles to an uninhabited island. Discovered by a passing fisherman the following day, Moiffa went on on to win the four-and-a-half mile race before an adoring crowd.
Few Jack Tar’s could tell a better tale. But the legend’s century-long staying power suggests the influence that shipwreck narratives have had over popular perceptions. In this case, of a race horse.