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Europe's railway systems, however, hexed the expedition from the first; the Soviet horsemen expected to get their steeds to Paris in three days. It took seven. They were halted for five hours at the Polish border, were 48 hours late at Hanover, and from then on fell farther and farther behind schedule. At Jeumont, on the French frontier, the Russians asked French customs officials for permission to take the horses out of their cars and exercise them a little; the French, with a bureaucratic disdain that even a Russian border guard would envy, refused. It was, they whinnied, against regulations.
The Russians had hoped to run their horses against Gelinotte, queen of French trotters; Gay Noon, a Swedish 7-year-old; Scotch-Harbor, an Italian-owned horse, and other top European standard breds in the 12-million-franc Prix d'Amerique. They arrived at Vincennes track (five miles from Paris) so belatedly that the stiffened horses were not even entered. The race was won by G�linotte. All the following week, however, the Russian horses were worked briskly. Grooms wearing astrakhan fur bonnets were on hand to lead them from the stables. Their drivers seemed prepared for every eventuality—they even had silvery plastic overalls to protect them from mud. But in the 5-million-franc Prix de France, none of the Russian entries placed among the first six. Again, France's G�linotte was the winner.
Last week the Russians stubbornly went on predicting victory in the next big Sunday race—the Prix de Paris. "Perhaps," said Spokesman Kalentar, "it was the change of climate. Maybe it was the different shape of the Vincennes track which was responsible for our defeat. Our horses are not accustomed to race in packs of 19 and 20—in the Soviet Union there are seldom more than seven or eight participants. We are confident we will do better next Sunday."
But last Sunday the Russian trotters got badly beaten all over again; this time a simpler, if more heretical, explanation for defeat, finally seemed to dawn on their drivers and trainers—that G�linotte (the winner), Gay Noon (which was second) and two other French horses (which were third and fourth) might just be able to run faster than the trotters from the U.S.S.R.
PANDEMONIUM AT HARRINGAY
Britons regard their system of boxing control, though not their boxers, as among the world's finest. It is a system which rests ultimate authority in a self-appointed, self-perpetuating group of men who are amateurs of the sport—the British Boxing Board of Control. The board has no legal authority but its prestige is such that the professionals—promoters, managers, fighters—accept it voluntarily as the supreme court of British boxing.
The supreme court now has a case on its hands. Kid Gavilan, who has been jobbed before but deserves better in these, his declining years, lost a decision the other night at Harringay Arena, London, to Peter Waterman, a likely young fighter who paints in the Churchillian manner, enjoys ballet, reads Homer and likes to discuss the nuances of James Thurber's humor. Waterman also likes to take his breakfast in bed from an elegant, raffia-wrapped tray—quite moderne—while fondling an equally elegant Persian cat. And what's more, his manager is named Jarvis Astaire.
Well, The Keed, a raffish type if there ever was one, toyed with this charming esthete for a couple of rounds, then moved in with a familiar, oldtime grin and proceeded to clobber the Homer out of him. Gavilan slapped a bit, to be sure, as he always does, but he punched too, and at the end of the fight there were few among the sell-out crowd of 11,000 who did not believe that Gavilan had won, and handily, giving Waterman his first defeat in 31 bouts. The press row was unanimously for Gavilan.
But not the referee. Paunchy Ben Green waddled over to Waterman and raised his hand.
For 10 minutes there was wild, indignant tumult in the arena. A bottle, some apple cores and an orange were flung into the ring, where Gavilan stood shaking his head and smiling wryly the while his manager, Se�or Yamil Chade, screaming above the hoots and boos, alternately tore at his hair and beat the canvas with his hands. Eventually, Chade had to be restrained from punching anyone who came near him.