Some bird had once gushed admiringly - drunkenly - that Doyle moved like a cat.
Bodie had looked at Doyle, lurching back from the gents, looked at the girl, and promptly moved in closer, figuring that if she was that drunk, he'd better get while the getting was good.
Doyle was no cat. Doyle, he decided, watching the 2-1 favourite get its legs tangled at the third and bring down half the field, was a thoroughbred. He ripped up his betting ticket and, intrigued by the thought, followed it further.
He certainly had the same gangling limbs, ridiculously broad chest and pronounced arse. And too many bones. Okay, he wasn't quite as neatly groomed as most racehorses but even Red Rum occasionally got straw in his mane.
Bodie began to push his way through the crowds to get to the paddock. The rest of the stands was fascinated by the struggle going on between the chestnut with the sheepskin noseband and the slightly darker chestnut with the sheepskin noseband. All these sodding horses looked the same, as far as he was concerned.
Okay, if one had a frizzy mess of a mane, he could probably pick it out from a crowd. And a smashed cheekbone. And chipped teeth.
Doyle was the thoroughbred who'd failed one fence too many and was showing the results.
Bodie grinned and leaned against the paddock rail. He liked that image. One day he might just share it with Doyle - when he was feeling like living dangerously.
He scrutinised the racecard and tried to make sense of the notations. Just going for the favourite didn't seem to work. The guy in brackets must be the trainer - he vaguely recognised the name Jenny Pitman. Which meant the guy not in brackets was probably the jockey. And all the numbers probably meant where they'd come in their last few races. He could cope with this. Just pick the horse with the lowest numbers and he'd be rolling in it.
"Going's soft," a conspiratorial voice at his elbow informed him. "Akrahad's gonna love that."
Bodie sought out the name and associated numbers and his heart sank. Okay, perhaps it wasn't going to be that easy. According to this, Akrahad had failed miserably in its past four races.
In that case, he'd choose the most noticeable horse. There had to be a white one or a black one or something. Something that stood out a bit more than the shades of brown that seemed to predominate.
Doyle even had the same walk as the horses, he noticed. Slightly stiff and gawky, vaguely aware that they weren't moving at the pace they were designed for. And no doubt, once they exploded into action, one of these horses could kick almost as hard as Doyle.
The horses suddenly lost his attention as he caught sight of the girl leading one of them. Shades of brown, admittedly, but with legs longer than her horse's. He looked at the number on the horse's saddlecloth and then checked it on the racecard. Body Beautiful. That he could live with. Okay, the horse was shades of brown but hopefully the jockey would have distinctive colours. Fluorescent yellow with orange stripes, or something - as long as he could actually pick it out from the mud.
He watched the horse critically, trying to see if there was something that screamed winner!
It plodded round, looking half asleep. Every now and then, it would pin its ears back and half-heartedly snap at its girl, who'd slap it on the nose and it would sullenly return to its circling.
Now that was Ray Doyle!
Suddenly the horse stopped dead and..
Bodie followed the stream of urine upwards and did his very best not to grin.
He may be more convinced than ever that Doyle was a thoroughbred but some comparisons were not meant to be shared. Not if he didn't want to inflate his partner's ego even further.
-- THE END --