Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,251, Puck: Horse sense

Posted by michod on December 4th, 2007


I got about half-way through before I spotted this puzzle’s usp – every clue refers to horses, except for 18 down whose answer contains the word. This means some ingenious and intricate wordplay, although one or two definitions are looser than they could be.


1. CAST RA TED. I thought the boy was Ed, and was trying to work out why a rat might be a painter, but of course it’s the old R.A.

6, 2. Y OR K SHIRE. The last one I got, and I’ve only now worked out why. ‘Riding position’ is the definition, as in the old West, East and North Ridings; one of Yank’s tips cis Y OR K, and SHIRE is the horse.  

12. ICE(COL)D. Colt less T, in DEC1 reversed.

13. OFF GAME. I’m allergic to horses, I don’t ride, and even when my daughter did I sat in the car.  But I’m guessing that a horse has an ‘off’ side on the right – not the one with the steering wheel, but maybe the side you don’t mount from.

14. H AIL(E)S E LASSIE. ‘Horse’ = heroin = H – the only time it’s so used here I think. Ref former president of Ethiopia. I remember when he was deposed in 1974, my older brother drew my attention to the headline ‘Haile Selassie – highly expendable’, possibly the first such punning head I encountered. 

17. OFF ONE’S ROCKER. CD – as in a rocking horse.

21. E CHIN US. I think this is EQUUS with CHIN instead of QU, but I’m not quite clear why ‘chin’ is a genial feature.

24. MAR(V)E LLE D. It seems as if ‘almost fell over’ must give LLE, which doesn’t seem quite right – surely it should be LEF.

25. I DO LS. Discontented Lippizaners rather wonderfully indicates the removal of the contents from the word, leaving LS – others may have come across this before, but it’s a new one on me.


1. CORN I C(H)E. OK, there’s another H for Horse.

3. RUSH ONE’S FENCES. Anag. UNHORSES, indicated by ‘criminal’. I’m not keen on this a.i, though it provides a neat link to ‘fences’.

4. TRE(ADL)E. A weakish definition, but great wordplay – ‘less than stable’ is the anagram indicator, ‘bay or chestnut’ are both trees as well as horses.

5. D IPLOMA. Anag of PALOMI(no), half a grand being 500, or D.

7. ONCE A WEEK. Wait, it’s a cow… ah, horsetail = E. Inside COW A KNEE*.

8. K (t)ILTED. ‘In traditional fashion’ is the slightly loose definition.

9. PRO(FESSOR(S)HI)PS. ‘Looking’ seems redundant here, but nice to have ‘horse’ as anagram fodder again.

15. IRON HORSE. Old word for a train, but what’s it got to do with eBay?

16. TRADES U P. Anag STUD ARE. I think of trading up as swapping something (house, car, partner) for another of greater value, but maybe there’s another meaning.

19. S(WIN D)LE. Good clue – the definition is ‘do’, with WIN replacing A D in ‘saddle.

23. POO(C)H. ‘Here the homonym is in the clue not the answer – ‘heard whinny’ = POOH.

19 Responses to “Guardian 24,251, Puck: Horse sense”

  1. Qaos says:

    13a. In cricket (for right handed batsmen) the off side is on the right – that might help

  2. michod says:

    It might do, but where’s the horse come in then?

  3. SteveM says:

    I think Iron Horse = f (found initially) on ebay, which gives Fe bay

  4. Michod says:

    Thanks Steve, I think you must be right. All I can say is it didn’t work for me!

  5. Fletch says:

    Hmmmm, didn’t like this at all. For me it required a totally different way of thinking, bit like the Quiptics when I tried them several years ago and didn’t like the style.

  6. owenjonesuk says:

    What’s 10a?

  7. Kevin Ward says:

    10a Rails. The barrier alongside the race track, also found: once(superfluous for me) under Iron Horse.

  8. Paul B says:

    Greek geneion = chin. There ya go.

  9. andleg says:


  10. Mang says:

    Off Pace with r off pacer (type of horse) any good?

  11. Geoff says:

    I had OFF PACE for 13A, but OFF GAME is probably right: ‘offside’ is used for the right hand side of horses as well as cars, apparently, and GAME = disabled does work.

    Found this much more tricky than usual – most Saturday puzzles are much easier. I am full of admiration for Puck’s ingenuity, but I can’t say I enjoyed the result much

  12. Mick says:

    OFF PACE seems a better phrase than OFF GAME, although really both are incomplete – aren’t the phrases ‘off the pace’ (as Andleg has it above) and ‘off one’s game’? But I can’t see where ‘disabled’ would come in. We may actually have to wait for the solution on this one.

  13. Geoff says:

    A ‘game” (or gammy) leg is one with the old war wound playing up – hence ‘disabled’

  14. Paul says:

    WinD for ad in saddle -> SwinDdle

  15. Ygor says:

    20d I got “seamer” as is hidden in the clue. I’m not familiar with the term. Are we talking about a cricket delivery here?

  16. Mick H says:

    Geoff – agree about GAME, that’s why I went for OFF GAME (see above). I was querying the absence of disability from OFF PACE.
    Ygor – quite right, a seamer is a ball that changes direction when it bounces on the seam (I think).
    Paul – don’t get your point. As I read it, it’s WIN for A D in SADDLE = S WIN DLE (see above).

  17. Fletch says:

    I see Paul’s once more had the urge to explain something no-one’s actually queried.

  18. Fletch says:

    Yes of course that’s the explanation Mick, one of the tightest clues in the puzzle.

  19. Gordon says:

    I felt that the horse theme running thought the clues in this puzzle was a setter’s conceit, as it did not assist solvers in any way. As a result the many of the clues ended up being a little awkward or convoluted in a bid to embrace something equine.

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