Princess Pinky and Amy - The Fluffy Agility Championship (author/artist: Carpdime)
Story by Carpdime
Continued from the story of Blueberry and Jimmy
“A ‘what’ competition?” Mark asked quizzically one afternoon during fluffy daycare pick up time.
“Fluffy Pony Agility competition.” Amy replied without hesitation. She could see the confusion in Mark’s brown eyes which was laced with a hint of skepticism, “It’s like an obstacle race for fluffies. Pinky and I are competitors in the fluffy club championship.”
“How do you even get involved in something like that?”
“Oh, the Greenhaven Country Club runs an annual competition. I’m a life member of the Greenhaven Country club together with my mother.”
Mark looked at Amy who was dressed in an extremely prim, light pink cashmere sweater.
“Well of course you are.” Mark said.
“You and Avocado should come watch us race.” Amy said.
At that moment, a group of fluffy owners entered the daycare waiting room, amongst them were Becky and Jimmy who were casually talking between themselves.
Amy suddenly had a brilliant idea.
“You know what?” Amy said excitedly, “We should get the whole gang together and everyone can come watch us at the club!”
Amy picked out Becky and Jimmy from the awaiting crowd and gestured for them to come over.
“Becky! Jimmy! You know what Mark and I were thinking?”
Mark didn’t even get a chance to speak before Amy spoke again, “Everyone should come to the Greenhaven Country Club this Saturday and watch Pinky and I race in the Fluffy Pony Agility Championship final!”
Becky looked at Amy with confusion.
“Fluffy Pony Agility…what is that?" Becky asked.
Amy rolled her eyes.
“Fluffy Pony Agility…It’s like an obstacle course for fluffies.” Mark added helpfully with a cheeky smile.
“Thank you Mark!” Amy said.
A short distance away, the doors to the daycare classroom swung open and a rush of happy, bouncing fluffy ponies ran energetically to their respective owners. Fluffy daycare class was finally over and the fluffy classmates were eager to tell their owners about their wonderful day.
Leading the way towards the group of friends was the green fluffy Avocado who had immediately honed onto the familiar face of his owner Mark.
“Daddeh daddeh!” Avocado yelled out, “Avo an Buttewcup buiwd the biggest bwocky tower evew!!” The green fluffy jumped into the waiting arms of the young man who ran his hand through Avocado’s mane.
Following closely behind was Pinky who strutted with poise towards her owner Amy.
“Pinky!” Amy said as she picked up the pink fluffy off the ground, “Mummah was just thinking that for this Saturday’s race, wouldn’t it be wonderful if all your friends were there to watch you race?” Amy asked her beloved princess.
Pinky looked around her and read the expressions on the faces of her friends and their owners. Blueberry and Ruby had now settled beside their owners and were looking back at Pinky with expectation. Pinky shuffled her hooves with a hint of doubt.
“Yes mummah. If mummah wan fwiends to see Pinky wace. It am otay….” Pinky said, tucking her tail underneath her.
One of the daycare helpers, a young red haired woman wearing an “East Side Fluffy Daycare” apron noticed Amy and walked over to the group.
“Hey Amy, so I heard from some of the other owners that the fluffy agility championship final is this Saturday.” The woman said to Amy.
“That’s right Scarlett!” Amy’s eyes lit up, “Finally! Someone who knows something about the biggest event in the whole fluffy competition calendar!” Amy gave Scarlett a quick hug, “I can get VIP guest invites for everyone at the Greenhaven club to watch us race. You’ll have box seats, champagne and everything.”
Scarlett’s green eyes lit up. “You’re giving us VIP access to Greenhaven Country Club??”
Amy nodded proudly.
Scarlett grabbed Mark’s arms with fervor. “Oh my God. Mark we have to go. Our aunt Martha is always saying how awesome and exclusive Greenhaven is but she could never get us an invite there.”
Amy smiled at the response she was inciting.
Mark looked at Avocado who was beaming with interest at the prospect of a new adventure.
“A country club? I’m not sure, it all sounds a bit old money to me…” Mark said.
Amy frowned disapprovingly at Mark.
“What I mean was, it would be totally awesome to experience the class and refinement of such a venerable institution!”
Amy smiled at Mark’s correction.
“I’ll go if Jimmy drives us there in his big, V8 truck.” Mark cleverly deflected.
“Mark…really?” Jimmy said in response, feeling betrayed.
Becky stepped forward, “Well, it would be nice to take Ruby out to somewhere new. I’ve been so busy with study and work recently that I’ve neglected her a little bit.” she pondered out loud. Ruby looked up at Becky and smiled with appreciation.
Scarlett pumped her fists victoriously. “Looks like it’s all up to you Jimmy!” She said with high expectations.
Jimmy glanced around quickly and felt completely trapped.
“Damn it! Fine.” Jimmy cursed.
Scarlett gave Amy a high five…
“I’ll drive, but there will absolutely be NO anime music to be played in my truck!” Jimmy said as he pointed specifically at Scarlett who was smiling with delight.
The sun was barely up on Saturday morning but Pinky was already doing her third lap of the warm up track with Amy in the lead. Draped in a beautiful white blanket, Pinky’s eyes were fully focused on Amy’s left hand which was used to give racing directions. She loved looking at the golden bracelet wrapped around Amy’s left wrist, it glistened so beautifully in the day’s first light.
As the two rounded the corner towards the track gate, the shadowy figure of a young woman and her fluffy came into view.
It was Rosemary MacMillan and her champion fluffy Cabot. Rosemary was the captain of the fluffy club at Greenhaven, a post she has held ever since her prized fluffy Cabot swept the Fluffy Agility Nationals 3 years running.
“You’re going to wear out Pinky training so hard on race day.” Rosemary said without invitation.
Amy stopped dead in her tracks and signalled Pinky to wait a small distance away.
“Good morning Rosemary.” Amy replied in a calm, even voice.
Rosemary barely nodded in acknowledgement.
“Cabot. Two laps of the track. Slow trot only.” she whistled sharply and her fine, brown fluffy responded immediately to her instructions.
From a distance, Pinky watched as Cabot started his way around the track. Pinky had always admired the deliberate nature of the brown fluffy’s steps. Pinky knew Cabot was the best trained and physically strongest of all her competitors. The silent dedication in Cabot’s manner frightened Pinky. Cabot never spoke to anyone but Rosemary. Cabot would scarcely even look at anyone else except his owner.
“Cabot looks to be in good condition today.” Amy commented politely.
“Of course he is.” Rosemary said as she put on a pair of soft leather gloves, “But I suppose what you wanted to say is that Cabot is just not in a good enough condition to beat you to the lead heading into the final race?”
“It’s still very close at the top. Our lead means nothing. Anyone in the top three can still win the championship.”
Rosemary looked down at her Audemars Piguet and chuckled.
“I don’t need you to tell me that. You and Pinky better watch your backs. Cabot and I are on the hunt for precious, little princesses.” Rosemary jogged away slowly to catch up with Cabot.
Amy took a short, sharp breath as a rush of anger simmered up to her head. She caught herself falling into the trap and managed to exhale slowly to control her passion. Amy clicked her fingers once and Pinky walked up to her.
“Slow trot now Pinky.” Amy instructed. “Let’s do a final warm down lap before the fluffy club breakfast.”
Pinky nodded solemnly before following Amy back onto the track.
The clattering of silver cutlery on fine china plates rang through the air above the muffled murmur of polite conversation. The elderly chairman of the Greenhaven club smiled satisfyingly at the breakfast meeting before him.
Although fluffy agility racing was initially seen as a sideshow in its early years, the reputation and achievements of the Greenhaven fluffy club had brought great honors and recognition to his esteemed country club.
As he made his way around the room of well dressed owners and their slickly groomed fluffies, he recognized the face of Rosemary MacMillan seated at the head of the captain’s table. As the chairman approached the captain’s table, the senior members of the fluffy club all nodded their heads in deference.
“What a fine assembly of young people and fluffies!” the chairman said warmly.
Rosemary stood up and greeted the chairman with a confident handshake.
“And our illustrious captain! Rosemary, I have no doubt you will once again do us proud this year.”
“Yes sir. Cabot and I will always do our best.” Rosemary replied seriously.
The chairman looked beside Rosemary where Amy and Pinky were seated, “Can you introduce me to your associates?” he asked.
Rosemary glanced momentarily at Amy, “Amy Hastings and Princess Pinky. Vice captain of the fluffy club and current points leader in the club championship.” After the introduction, Rosemary sat down abruptly and looked away.
“Ah Ms. Hastings! I have heard a lot about you but have not had the pleasure.” He shook Amy’s hands and awkwardly tried to pat Pinky on her head, “I hope your mother is well. She has done an exceptional job fundraising with the ladies club. I would love to catch up with her at the race today.”
“She is very well sir, thank you. But I am afraid she won’t be able to make the race today…” Amy replied softly.
“Oh a shame, but I am sure you and Princess will do exceptionally well at the races today!” The chairman smiled heartily and then looked over to Rosemary. “Rosemary, it looks like you’ve got a bit of competition today!”
The chairman laughed awkwardly at his own attempt at a joke. The rest of the competitors at the table watched on with amusement and suppressed laughter.
Much to Amy’s relief, their conversation was interrupted with the race referee declaring the commencement of race registration.
Amy politely excused herself from the chairman and picked up Pinky from her silk cushion. Together they headed towards the marshaling area beside the club’s grand lawn where the day’s racing was to be held.
“Nice driving Takumi!” Scarlett said sarcastically as Jimmy’s truck screeched to a halt at the Greenhaven country club parking lot.
As the truck’s tires skidded across the lot, it kicked up a wave of gravel that struck the sides of the shiny, waxed Maserati that was parked beside Jimmy’s truck.
The young fluffies at the back of the car slowly released their death grip on their owners. Sweat and tears gathered at the heads and eyes of Avocado, Blueberry and Buttercup. The only fluffy that remained unfazed was the experienced Ruby who had seen her share of bad driving from her previous owner.
“Who the hell is Takumi?” Jimmy asked indignantly as he pulled the e-brake and shut off the engine.
“You know, Takumi Fujiwara from Initial-D?” Scarlett replied.
A blank expression remained on Jimmy’s face, “OK weeb. If you are not happy with my driving you are welcome to jump on your little red scooter next time you need to go somewhere.”
“Excuse me mister! My Ducati is not a little red scooter!” Scarlett elbowed the back of Jimmy’s seat.
Mark looked over at Becky and they shared a laugh.
Through a pair of high and heavy glass doors, the group entered the guest reception area of the Greenhaven country club. As they headed towards the oaken concierge desk, an electric passenger cart whizzed by in front of the group, barely missing Avocado who was running ahead.
Without pausing to look back, the cart’s driver continued on his way. The well manicured fluffy sitting beside the driver looked back and shouted at Avocado.
“Out of da way stupi fwuffy! Stupi fluffy wan fowevew sweepies??”
Mark immediately leapt forward to check on Avocado. The green fluffy was shaken but unhurt. In a belated gesture, Mark yelled at the speeding cart which had already sped out of sight.
Jimmy also went to check on Avocado who was now clutching tightly onto Mark’s legs in fear.
“Damn assholes the bunch of them are.” Jimmy said, “Makes me glad to have left this place behind years ago.”
Jimmy gave Avocado a strong pat on his back to comfort him before going back to his Blueberry who was nervously looking around the reception.
As the group gathered around Avocado with concern, the uniformed concierge approached them with suspicion.
“Can I help you with anything?” The concierge asked with an accusing tone.
“Yes! That golf cart over there almost ran over my fluffy!” Mark yelled, pointing in the direction where the cart had disappeared.
“Golf cart huh. Must be one of the club executives. Look son, just be more careful next time. You wouldn’t want to make a scene in here.” The concierge looked around at the group of unfamiliar faces and fluffies, “I haven’t seen you here before. Are you members of the club? You need to be a member to be here.”
Scarlett frowned at the concierge’s brusque tone, “We were invited here by Amy Hastings, I suggest you go check your guest list pronto before I consider having a stern word with your supervisor.” She shot back.
The concierge stared blankly at Scarlett before checking his digital tablet. After a few taps on his screen, his face turned red momentarily as the descriptions on the guest list matched the fluffies and humans before him.
“Welcome to the Greenhaven club.” his tone shifted dramatically into subservience, “Ms. Hastings has arranged for the private VIP room for lunch with views of the fluffy agility competition this afternoon.”
The concierge gestured towards a marble arched doorway which led into the private section of the club. The group continued onwards without hesitation.
Before leaving the reception, Scarlett looked back at the Concierge, “Thanks for your help…” Scarlett took a closer look at the gold name tag pinned on the concierge’s suit jacket, “Jeffrey Jackson. I’m going to remember you, JJ.” she scowled back menacingly.
The concierge wiped at his brow and returned back to his post behind a tall oaken desk.
The grand, ornate doors of their VIP room slung open and the scent of food and opulence that only money could buy filled their noses.
“Sketties!” the yellow fluffy Buttercup suddenly hollered as he ran towards the large serving of spaghetti that was sitting in a gilded, fluffy bowl. Avocado followed closely behind Buttercup as the two immediately began digging into the food. Suddenly remembering his manners, Avocado turned quickly back to his owner.
“Daddeh, can Avo hav da sketties pwease?” the green fluffy sputtered between gulps of spaghetti.
“Uh, buddy. It’s a little late to ask for permission now.” Mark said to Avocado as he checked the golden bowl that the fluffies were eating out of.
“Wait, is that caviar in the spaghetti??” Mark knelt down next to the two fluffy gluttons and inspected the large dots of black fish roe that was mixed into the fluffy’s spaghetti.
“Holy shit.” Mark whispered to himself.
** POP! **
Scarlett had unleashed the cork from a magnum sized bottle of Dom Perignon and was laughing wildly at the luxury of their environment. Becky hastily grabbed a champagne flute and caught the overflow from the bottle. She handed the first glass to Jimmy who was intensely surveying the private room they were housed in.
Jimmy looked seriously at Becky and waved away the drink.
“I think I’d rather have a beer and Pizza.” Jimmy said dismissively as he walked to the balcony that overlooked the verdant lawn below them.
Blueberry saw his owner make a lone exit to the balcony and followed suit.
Staring through the wrought iron balustrade of the balcony, Blueberry could see activity below them. On the freshly cut lawn, a number of ramps and jumps had been laid out purposefully.
This must have been the race course that he had heard the humans talk about. It reminded him of his days as a baby foal. He had seen something like this when he still had a mummah and not just a daddy. The blue fluffy sat quietly next to Jimmy.
“Do you remember this place Blueberry?” Jimmy asked.
Blueberry looked up at his daddy, “Bwuebewwy wemembers a wittle. Bwuebewwy was onwy a babbeh…”
“I hate this place.” Jimmy muttered.
Blueberry didn’t hear what Jimmy said.
Something on the far side of the lawn had caught his attention. There was a group of fluffies and their owners gathered in a cordoned off section of the lawn. Amongst the band of fluffies sporting noble coats of earthy browns and distinguished grays, Blueberry picked out the unmistakable sheen of Pinky’s bubblegum colored coat. His heart raced at the sight and he poked his head through a small gap in the balustrade.
Blueberry tapped his front hoof on Jimmy’s foot to get his attention.
“Wook daddeh. It’s Pinky!”
Jimmy looked out into the distance but his eyes were not as sharp as Blueberry’s. Grabbing the pair of leather wrapped binoculars that was sitting on a nearby side table, he finally saw the pink fluffy. Jimmy’s attention was instead immediately drawn to Amy who appeared to be talking to Pinky.
Amy looked fetching in a pink polo shirt that closely matched the color of Pinky’s fluff. Embroidered on the polo was a simple insignia made of a golden heart. That too matched the golden heart that was displayed proudly on Pinky’s collar.
As if telepathically, Amy looked up in the direction of the balcony where Jimmy and Blueberry were transfixed. Upon recognizing Jimmy and his distinctive blue fluffy, Amy gave a wave in their direction.
Jimmy returned a quick wave and turned to Blueberry.
“Blueberry, let’s go say hi to Amy and Pinky.”
“Otay!” Blueberry replied enthusiastically as he raced off towards the exit of their VIP room.
“One last time Pinky. What do you do after you come out of the pipe?” Amy quizzed Pinky.
“Wight turn to jumpy pywamid!” Pinky responded immediately.
“And what do you do if you forget where to go?”
“Fowwow mummah’s pweeetty gowd bwacewet!” Pinky replied, beaming with a smile.
“Good girl!” Amy gave Pinky a playful scratch around her neck.
Amy knelt down beside Pinky and checked each of her hooves for dirt. Using a hoof brush, she cleaned the soil that had stuck onto Pinky’s hooves to ensure her fluffy had the best traction around the tight corners of the agility course. Pinky really liked it when Amy would give her such loving attention. In moments like this, she truly felt like a real princess.
“Hey there little princess.” Jimmy said as he and Blueberry reached the velvet rope that separated the competitors from the crowd.
“Hewwo Jimmy!” Pinky greeted the young man, wagging her long, flowing tail.
Amy put down the hoof brush and stood up, “Blueberry! Jimmy! I am so glad that you two could make it to see Pinky!”
Amy almost reached over the velvet rope to give Blueberry a hug but she remembered the rules forbidding outside contact so close to race time.
“We’d do anything to support Pinky, right Blueberry?” Jimmy asked.
Blueberry stood a step behind Jimmy, staring at the beautifully groomed Pinky who was smiling bright eyed back at Blueberry.
“Yes daddeh. Pinky am so…pwetty.” Blueberry whispered.
Both Jimmy and Amy laughed.
“But really. Thanks for inviting us Amy. Everyone else seems to be loving this place.”
Amy smiled with encouragement, “Really? That’s great! I booked out the VIP room for you guys to make sure you were well looked after. I’m just sorry that I’m busy with the race prep so I can’t show you guys around the club personally. I hope you’re having a good time here as well Jimmy.” She looked hopefully at Jimmy.
Jimmy coughed once, “Well, you know me. Places like this aren’t really my thing.” He could visibly see Amy’s shoulder drop, “But seeing you and Pinky in top racing condition has made it all worthwhile.”
Amy nodded quickly in acknowledgement.
Once again, like a looming shadow, Rosemary MacMillan and Cabot appeared a short distance away from Amy and Pinky. Also dressed in a color coordinated polo shirt, Rosemary commanded her brown fluffy to stand close to herself, away from her rival Pinky.
The color left Jimmy’s face as he recognized the young woman that stood before him with her brown fluffy.
Amy stared confusingly at Jimmy and pondered on the silence that had suddenly enveloped the scene.
“Hello Jimmy.” Rosemary said in monotone.
Jimmy hesitated as if he forgot her name, “Hi Rosie.” he finally said after a long pause.
Amy connected the dots but she couldn’t help but ask anyway, “So you two know each other?”
“We were friends.” Rosemary replied quickly. She moved her head to the side to get a better look at the blue fluffy beside Jimmy.
“Hello Blueberry. It’s been a long time.” Rosemary said.
Blueberry looked at the stranger that was now standing in front of him. Except Blueberry knew she wasn’t a stranger. Just as the club itself was familiar to him as a baby foal, the woman’s presence triggered a revival of memories long forgotten. Those memories were the source of his fears and feelings of abandonment.
“M…m…mu…” Blueberry stuttered. He was overwhelmed by a sudden surge of dark, sad memories. Blueberry had no facility to handle such emotions, he quickly hid himself behind Jimmy, wrapping his legs tightly around his owner.
Rosemary shook her head in disappointment, “He was never strong enough to be trained for competition unlike Cabot. Such a pity, Blueberry has such great pedigree and potential. I guess not every flower can bloom.”
Rosemary looked back at Pinky and Amy.
“Not every flower can bloom.” Rosemary repeated as she looked directly at Pinky.
Pivoting on the heels of her fine leather boots, Rosemary whistled once and exited their presence with Cabot in tow.
The longest five seconds passed before Amy dared to speak.
“That was heavy.” was all she could manage to say.
Amy picked up a soft finishing brush from her grooming bag and started running it through Pinky’s silky smooth fluff.
“It was a mistake coming here.” Jimmy said.
“No Jimmy.” Amy said sternly, “It means a lot for Pinky to have her friends here today. It also means a lot for me to see you here.”
Amy put away the brush and checked over Pinky’s presentation. It was as good as it was going to get.
The final call for competitors to gather at the marshaling area went out over the microphone. As Pinky was led away to the marshalling point, she looked back at Jimmy who remained motionless watching them walk away. Pinky tried desperately to catch one last glimpse of her good friend Blueberry as a sort of good luck charm, but he was nowhere to be seen. Blueberry was still cowering behind Jimmy with a stream of tears pouring down his face.
“This is really intense.” Becky said as she watched the latest competitor take the competition lead by a mere 0.3 seconds.
Ruby looked on excitedly from Becky’s lap and clapped her hooves as the next fluffy competitor was introduced to the crowd. Ruby admired the bravery of all the fluffies that ran the race and for a moment she imagined her younger self as a racing fluffy. Ruby looked over to Avocado and Buttercup and laughed. The two young fluffies were pretending to be racers themselves, jumping over tiny cushions that Mark had placed for them on the ground, forming a makeshift obstacle course.
“When is it Pinky’s turn to run? I’m so nervous I can’t breathe.” Becky said as held Ruby tightly in her arms.
Mark grabbed a copy of the race program from the side table.
“It says here that Princess Pinky is currently in first place with a narrow lead of 0.2 seconds ahead of Cabot going into this final round. Pinky will be the last fluffy to run the course.” Mark declared.
Becky breathed out heavily, “We need to give Pinky all the support we can.” she said.
Scarlett suddenly jumped up from her seat, sending her champagne flying everywhere.
“I know! We need to come up with the best and catchiest cheer for Pinky!” Scarlett declared, “Hey Buttercup, what’s that cheer we used at that hockey game we went to last week?”
Buttercup pranced towards Scarlett and proudly puffed out his fluffy chest before shouting as loud as he could;
“Pinky cannot be beat!
Pinky nu accept defeat!
Go Pinky, go Pinky, gooooooooo Pinky!”
Ruby and Avocado clapped their hooves delightedly as Becky and Mark whooped in response.
Jimmy and Blueberry remained silent as they watched on. Jimmy had put out Blueberry’s play blocks as a way to distract the fluffy from his anxiety attack. Blueberry only managed to paw lifelessly at his blocks, his mind still stuck on the encounter with his old mummah.
“And with a record time of 35 seconds flat, Cabot and Rosemary MacMillan have taken the championship lead with only one competitor remaining.” the race announcer said as the brown fluffy and his owner left the race lawn to a round of polite applause.
Barely panting and cooly strutting back to the marshalling area, Cabot did not give in to any emotion or excitement at taking the lead.
As Pinky and Amy waited for their chance to prove their mettle, Rosemary passed the two and fired a final shot at the waiting pair.
“Maybe Jimmy actually came to watch me race.” Rosemary said.
Amy didn’t look at Rosemary.
“Good luck bitch. You’re going to need it.” Rosemary added.
Pinky heard and understood what Rosemary had said.
“Mummah…” Pinky said.
“Yes Pinky?” Amy responded calmly.
“Pinky nu know if Pinky can win…Cabot am so fast…Cabot am su much bettew than Pinky…”
Amy knelt down beside Pinky.
“Don’t think about anything except the very next step you are going to take.” Amy ran her hands through Pinky’s mane, “What comes after the pipe?” Amy asked.
Pinky smiled, “Wight turn to jumpy pywamid!”
Amy gave Pinky a hug and returned to her waiting position.
“And now, our final competitor of the day and the only fluffy with a chance to take the championship from Cabot…Princess Pinky and Amy Hastings!” the announcer introduced the pair.
Amy and Pinky walked solemnly to the starting line to a background of gentle applause. The civilized applause was suddenly broken by a loud cheer and the voices of their daycare friends yelling out their boisterous chant;
“Pinky cannot be beat!
Pinky nu accept defeat!
Go Pinky, go Pinky, gooooooooo Pinky!”
Muted gasps of outrage ran through the club members watching the race.
Pinky looked up immediately at the VIP room balcony and her spirit soared at the sight of all of her friends in support. Most importantly, she finally caught a glimpse of Blueberry who was nervously looking down at her with his hooves resting on the balustrade.
Amy wanted to yell back in appreciation but her well practised decorum kept her focused on the task in front of her.
“Well I never!” exclaimed the announcer. Regaining her composure, the announcer signalled for the pair to get ready.
The race timer began its countdown.
5…4…3…2…1…‘Ding’ went the starting bell.
With the energy of a coiled spring, Pinky pushed off her hind legs and launched herself at the first stretch of the course which is a short sprint designed to test the fluffy’s straight line speed. With legs shorter than the average competitor, Pinky adapted to her disadvantage with pure explosive power. Her legs pumped faster, her strides were small but many.
Through the first timed gate she was on pace with Cabot’s split.
At the end of the sprint, Amy guided Pinky with her hand to make a 90 degree turn towards the vertical weave which was made up of 15 individual rods of PVC spaced evenly apart.
Conventionally, this obstacle was handled with a series of quick side steps. Amy had instead trained Pinky to crash almost straight through the centreline of the obstacle, reducing any speed loss suffered with side stepping. The pink fluffy ducked her head slightly and slithered through the bars with little effort.
Following the weave was a U-shaped piped section. During this trial, the fluffy would lose visual contact with their owner, oftentimes resulting in disorientation and precious time loss. Everything around her went dark as Pinky dashed into the entrance of the pipe. In her head, Pinky kept repeating the lesson from her training:
“What comes after the pipe?” her mummah would often ask.
“Wight turn to jumpy pywamid!” came the well practised reply.
The light re-appeared again as she exited the pipe and the colors all around her overwhelmed her senses. In spite of this she was not lost, Pinky knew exactly where she needed to go as she made a sharp right turn and then jumped in the same motion onto the first step of the pyramidal obstacle that was now before her.
On the other side of the pyramid, Amy was waiting. She was clearly calling out the cadence of Pinky’s jumps. Reaching the very top step of the pyramid, Pinky did not hesitate and she leapt fearlessly, landing with her front legs which absorbed the impact with little effort.
On the VIP balcony, the group breathed a collective sigh of relief as Pinky seemed to land the impossibly high jump from the top without injury. Buttercup and Avocado were astonished at Pinky’s performance, they began excitedly tapping their hooves on the metal balustrade to show their support.
The next split time appeared on the large screen. Even though Pinky was fast through the last section, she was still only dead even against Cabot’s time.
The dead even split deeply concerned Jimmy. He knew that the last sections of the course were the most technical. Errors would inevitably creep in and he feared that Pinky did not create enough of a lead in the early sections. He reached nervously for a can of beer that was chilling in the large ice bucket. Jimmy hated how he felt so invested in the result of this stupid fluffy race.
Back on the race lawn, Pinky had dispatched a series of jumps and narrow balance beams that gave her no trouble at all. She was now past the halfway point of the race and there remained only two major sections left to conquer.
The end was in sight.
Pinky was starting to feel a shortness of breath from the intense activity. The discomfort would soon again dissolve into nothing if she would just focus on the next section coming up. The pain, she reminded herself, was always just in her head.
Amy kept ahead of Pinky as she leapt from obstacle to obstacle, the determination in Amy’s expression was underlined with a confident smile. Pinky knew her mummah loved racing with her. As much as Pinky loved the challenge of the race herself, doing her very best and winning the race was something she wanted to give her mummah.
The upcoming hoop jump required the cooperation of the pair. Pinky started the section by deftly mounting the steady platform of a raised balance beam. At the same time, Amy picked up the hoop that was on the ground and held it waist height for Pinky to jump through. The pink fluffy completed the jump cleanly and landed with grace. The crowd responded with a generous shower of applause.
Pinky smiled upon hearing the applause. She felt good about the run, her mummah was smiling back at her. She was having the time of her life.
Digging her hooves deeply into the soft turf, she made a sharp turn to the left in order to line herself up with the final stretch of the race. Before her was a series of 3 jumps of various difficulty. The first jump was an equal height, triple bar oxer that required extraordinary control of her body. This jump was a difficult trial as it required not only good vertical height but it also required great speed to cover the long distance of the jump.
Pinky lifted off the ground with speed and strength, making the height easily.
“Back legs!” Amy called out to remind Pinky of her form.
As she sailed through the air, her focus was to keep her back legs tucked in tightly to prevent touching any of the rails which would result in an unwanted penalty. Pinky kept her poise and landed without issue on the other side of the rails.
The second jump was a wall jump. It was an imposing, solid obstacle designed to dishearten and test the very limits of a fluffy racer’s self confidence. At her height, being low to the ground, Pinky could barely even see the top of the wall jump let alone what was on the other side. Training and pure instincts drove what Pinky had to do. Muscle memory developed over months and months of repeated practise told her exactly how much power she needed to clear this jump. She soared efficiently over the wall, not an inch higher than what was needed to clear it.
Her heart was now beating in anticipation of finishing the race. The final water jump was another long jump that required a good amount of built up speed. With her head down low, Pinky exploded like a rocket from landing the previous wall jump which gave her the jump distance she needed.
In the air, over water, Pinky could see the azure sky and white puffs of cloud reflected in the pool below her. She cleared the distance of the water jump with only an inch to spare, her feet landing in the muddy grass on the edge of the pool.
Although the jumps were all completed, the race was still not over as the finish line loomed a short sprint away from the final jump. Struggling for grip on the muddy landing, a moment of panic engulfed Pinky as the finish line suddenly began to look so far away.
“Easy there!” Amy called out.
Pinky heard her mummah’s words and slowed down her run as she regained grip on the muddy turf. A few steps away from the water, Pinky could feel the ground below her become drier. She immediately put the pedal to the metal and smashed through the finish line to complete the race.
Amy was already ahead of her at the finish fine and she lifted Pinky off the ground into a tight embrace.
“Good girl! I’m so proud of you!” Amy said as she leaned slightly backwards to lift Pinky into the air. Even as she was carried towards the sky, Pinky’s thoughts remained anchored to the race behind her. She looked over anxiously to the giant screen to check her time.
34.90 seconds. It was 0.1 quicker than Cabot’s time. It was a new record and it was enough to take first place and the championship.
Their friends on the VIP balcony erupted into a chorus of cheering.
“We did it Pinky!” Amy yelled with joy.
Pinky looked at Amy with dazed confusion.
Was that it?
How did she beat Cabot?
Pinky felt a sense of hollow dread in the pit of her stomach. She knew that she had done really well, but she also knew that the win was not secured until the racing judges confirmed it.
On the other side of the lawn, a congress of well dressed officials in ironed shirts and tall boots were huddled over the referee’s desk. Amongst them was Rosemary MacMillan who was talking wildly and gesturing frantically towards the final water jump.
Amy could see the concern in Pinky’s expression and she looked over to where the officials had gathered.
The race referee was overwhelmed with the people around him talking all at the same time. In a show of frustration, he stood up from his seat and scurried over to Amy and Pinky.
“Amy, your time is good enough for first place and in my mind you are the new champions. But Rosemary MacMillan has lodged a racing protest.” The referee adjusted his glasses, “She alleges that Pinky landed in the water on the final jump. That itself is a 2 second penalty which would make Cabot the champion.”
Amy looked over at Rosemary. The club captain was standing a few feet away with her arms crossed.
“That’s ridiculous, Pinky definitely cleared the water jump cleanly.” Amy said to the referee.
“Check her hoof.” Rosemary said.
The referee looked uneasily at Amy.
“May I check Pinky’s legs please?” The referee asked politely.
Amy adjusted her hold of Pinky to show Pinky’s legs. The referee touched Pinky’s rear hooves and could feel moisture.
“The grass at the edge of the water jump is wet. The racers before us who failed the jump would have splashed water onto the grass.” Amy reasoned.
The referee nodded in agreement but Rosemary would have none of it. She waltzed over to the water jump and pointed at the soft plasticine edge of the water pool that was indented with a clear hoof print.
“Look at this.” Rosemary called the referee over. “This is more evidence that Amy Hastings is trying to cheat the race.”
Amy placed Pinky onto the grass and walked within a step of Rosemary.
“This hoof print here is nowhere near where Pinky landed! It was probably from a previous racer and the plasticine edge was not reset before our run.”
Rosemary ignored Amy and spoke directly to the referee, “The rules clearly state that a wet hoof and an imprint on the plasticine edge registers as a water landing.” Rosemary pointed her finger at the referee, “YOU know what needs to be done.”
With that, Rosemary stormed off without another word towards the waiting area where the other competitors were standing.
Amy looked pleadingly at the referee. The referee bowed his head and avoided eye contact.
“I am really sorry Amy but Rosemary is right.” He started walking away, “Look, it’s possible that the course marshals forgot to reset the water jump…but I don’t have evidence of that so I can’t rule in your favor. I’m so sorry Amy…”
An extreme disappointment overcame Amy. She was not angry at losing the championship but rather at the depraved lengths her rival would go to in order to deprive Pinky of what was rightfully hers.
Within a few seconds, the leaderboard displayed on the giant screen was updated with the time penalty applied to Pinky. The 2 second penalty pushed Pinky down to second place behind Rosemary and Cabot.
“Mummah?” Pinky called out to Amy with distress, sensing something awful had happened.
The dreadful moment was interrupted by the highly spirited cheers and congratulations coming from their daycare friends who had just arrived at the finish to greet them.
“Pinky am suuu amazing! Pinky am fastest fwuffy in da whole wowld!” Avocado exclaimed.
“Go Pinky! Go Pinky!” Buttercup cheered repeatedly as he skipped and bounced around playfully.
The more subdued Blueberry and Ruby remained quiet as they approached Pinky, but it was clear in the expression on their faces that Pinky was a star in their eyes.
Jimmy noticed Pinky’s second placing on the leaderboard and his face scrunched up with confusion.
“What the hell happened?” He asked Amy.
Amy stared blankly at the giant screen. She turned to Jimmy who was looking on with concern. The comfort of his presence made her want to do nothing but smile.
“I guess the race wasn’t ours to win today.” She replied simply.
Amy knelt down beside Pinky and gave her princess a great big hug.
“You were fast and focused during the entire race. Your jumps were amazing. I am so proud of you Pinky.” She said.
The cloud of distress disappeared from Pinky’s expression and it melted into a comfortable sense of consolation.
Mark, Scarlett and Becky joined Jimmy and they each gave Pinky a good dose of hugs and scratches.
Pinky had never felt so loved than how she was feeling right now. At that moment she didn’t give a damn that she didn’t win the race. The unconditional friendship and joy that her friends were giving her meant so much more than any medal she could ever receive. Pinky looked over to Cabot who was now swamped with a crowd of adoring fans.
Plus there was always next year, Pinky thought to herself.
Pinky’s gaze focused into a laser-like concentration.
Next year, she was going to be even leaner, faster, stronger and smarter.