The Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race is one of the most renowned events in the sporting calendar and has been held yearly since 1859. Since 2008, though, it has spawned a younger brother, The Goat Race. Fought out between goats representing the esteemed universities and hosted by the City Farm in East London, the Goat Race is beginning to attract its share of ardent followers, with 1,700 people turning out to watch the fourth edition of the race.
Cambridge, the incumbent champion, and winner of the previous three races was the clear favourite (although, in the interest of fairness and simplicity both goats were named at the same odds) and had set a new track record of 56.9 seconds in the 2011 race.
The question on everybody's lips as they made their way into the stadium, which will, surely, one day, rival the Nou Camp as one of the great sporting venues in the world, was whether the Oxford goat break Cambridge's stranglehold on the trophy? The answer was an emphatic 'no' and although there was not to be a Usain Bolt performance, the Cambridge goat swanned home in 1 minute 26 seconds and left the punters with the impression that he had more in the locker.
The event, though, was so much more than the 90 seconds for which the two goats were ambling towards the finish line, with the afternoon having the feel of a farmyard festival. There was music, there was dancing, there were food stalls and, naturally, it wouldn't be a boat… sorry, goat race, without a healthy dose of ale; there was even a man dressed up as a goat with whom people could have their photos taken. That the money from ticket sales, the left over takings from the losing bets and donations from stalls all contributed to the upkeep of the farm, really provided a warm and friendly atmosphere, in spite of the bitter East London breeze.
1,700 tickets were sold and more people were turned away on the door, suggesting that this crack pot method of raising money for the farm certainly has found its corner and, who knows, in the future we may be greeted by a Sky Sports booth full of goat racing experts offering detailed analysis of the race. So, for the meantime, let's take pleasure in this unique, hilarious and worthwhile event.