Donkeys all over Spain have sighed with gratitude - or in some cases gulped through the stranglehold of their reins - following Rafael Nadal's surprise exit in the quarter finals of the Australian Open. Many had feared that, if Nadal had won and thereby completed the Grand Slam of the four major open tournaments, the effects of the celebrations on their numbers could have been disastrous.
'We've barely recovered from them winning the European Championship and the World Cup in quick succession,' complained Negrito, a male who has been chained upside-down from the roof of the church in a small village near Toledo for the past 17 years to symbolise the sufferings of Christ. 'This could have been the final straw.'
According to unofficial estimates, on a night of ecstatic partying after Spain beat Holland 1-0 to claim its first World Cup last year, about 3,000 donkeys were thrown from church steeples or over cliffs, while 1,600 more were driven into the sea and sprayed with sulphuric acid. Others barely escaped alive after being driven through sewers by crossbows or having telegraph poles stitched into their backs.
'You also have to factor in the trauma of the survivors,' added Marisol, a grey female who spends her life stapled to the wall of a primary school in Valencia with an archery target painted on her flank. 'Now every time they bring hay for me, I fear they are going to set fire to it and ram it down my throat to celebrate the local saint's martyrdom or something like that.'
A few fortunate animals have been rescued by eccentric English Tory ex-pat ladies with a lot of time on their hands. Sadly, however, these donkeys feel little solidarity with their stricken colleagues.
'It was David Ferrer, another Spaniard who beat Nadal, durr,' scoffed Chiquito, from the comfort of a sanctuary near Fuengirola. 'Just wait till the celebrations when Ferrer wins the final or Cesc Fabregas gets FIFA Footballer of the Year. I mean ee-aw, ee-aw, ee-aw to have a good chance. Sorry, couldn't resist that one. My ass hurts. Oh dear, somebody stop me...'