AUTHOR: davidstewart

JUST WILLIAM: In Defence of Preview Nights

Hello one and all, and thanks for reading.

As I write this, we’re all watching a humanitarian catastrophe unfold in Ukraine. One of the few bright spots in the past week has been the help so many have given Ukraine, and to begin this week I wanted to list some links to charities and NGO’s doing vital work there.

British Red Cross:

Choose Love:

International Rescue Committee:

Chris York’s fund for refugees in Poland:

#CookForUkraine: Petition:

In Defence of the Cheltenham Preview

When I first discovered the joy that racing provides, I wasn’t able to share my love of the sport with many other people. The 606 Messageboards (that’s one for the old readers here) were my only real way of communicating with other racing fans, and whilst there were racing communities on Twitter and Facebook, they were in their infancy (and not widely advertised).

So, when I attended my first Cheltenham Festival preview – all the way back in 2013 – it was a complete joy to be in the company of people who understood what I was going on about when mentioning words such as Champagne Fever, Simonsig, Hurricane Fly, Sprinter Sacre and more.

I bring this memory up because recently I’ve seen many on Twitter recently pour scorn on Festival preview nights. That could be a sign of tiredness with pre-Festival speculation, something which seems to hit bigger heights each year, or an oversaturation of selections and tips (with one eagle eyed observer noting that there are more than 50 podcasts out this year).

That’s a fair observation – although it’s a free choice whether to watch or listen to a preview or not – but it feels as many of those commenting have forgotten the best part of preview nights; The company.

I was lucky enough to enjoy our own Cheltenham Festival preview – which was summed up here – and whilst I appreciated the insights of Bill Esdaile, Davy Russell and Pricewise (Tom Segal) – the real joy was being around other racing fans and discussing all things festival related – as it has been each time I’ve enjoyed a preview in person. If you haven’t, I highly recommend it.

World Book Day

It’s World Book Day, and as such it’s a chance to share a few titles which I always end up re-reading for various reasons.

I’ve put a list of my top books to look ahead to this year here:

And last year I put down five books I’d highly recommend:

But it’s a new year, so allow me to put five more books on your reading list:

Celebrating A Century of the Prix D’L’arc De Triomphe (Malcolm Bennett)

A fantastic history of a brilliant race which leads right up to Enable’s win. Hours of fun for anyone interested in flat racing.

Boris Johnson: The Gambler (Tom Bowler)

The best biography written on Boris Johnson, in my view, and filled with the details that make such books worth reading.

Putin’s People: How the KGB took back Russia and then The West (Catherine Belton)

A masterclass from Catherine Belton on just how Putin and his backers amassed their power and fortune from 2000 onwards, and essential reading for all those who want to learn more about him now.

Equal: A Story of Women, Men and Money by Carrie Gracie

A self-written account of Carrie Gracie’s fight for equal pay at the BBC and the landmark story that followed.

Breaking The Champions League

Top level football has its problems. Nobody – even the fans of the biggest clubs – could deny that. But the Champions League – in the eyes of yours truly – remains one of the game’s shining lights.

Some have complained about the domination of the Champions League by superclubs, a valid point, but that is a reflection of the financial power that a certain few now hold, something which is replicated in many different tournament formats. And whilst progress to the knockout stages has been relatively sanguine for the tournament’s biggest names, we’ve seen some incredible knockout encounters which have shown club football at its very best.

So of course, the geniuses at UEFA have decided to massacre the Champions League with this hideous new format, which has 100 additional games, but just four extra teams.

Only UEFA….

William Kedjanyi

Views of authors do not necessarily represent views of Star Sports Bookmakers.