SHARPE MIND: A Legend’s Swan Song

In this week’s SHARPE MIND blog, where sports betting PR legend GRAHAM SHARPE aims to bring you a rundown of Sensational, Hard to believe, Amusing, Remarkable, Pertinent & Entertaining events which have happened over the years in the worlds of racing and betting during each specific week of the year, he digs out some of the golden moments from the week between 11 October and 17 October.


OCT 11, 1945………..WHEELY CLOSE……….….The three runners in a race at Wheeling Downs, Virginia went past the winning post together today in 1945. The two ‘placing judges’ and the track steward each decided a different one of the three had won – so a triple dead-heat was given as the official result.

OCT 11, 1958………………RACING UNDER ORDERS AT BEEB……………………………..The first edition of BBC TV’s Grandstand sports programme today in 1958 featured racing from Ascot, with commentaries by Peter O’Sullevan and Clive Graham.

OCT 12,1837……….TOM TRAVELLING LYE………….…Having ridden a winner in Edinburgh the day before, jockey Thomas Lye won the first race at Northallerton, Yorkshire today, the next afternoon, in 1837. No planes or cars to get him there in time, back then.

OCT 12, 1995……………..THE LEASE THEY COULD DO…….Newmarket staged its first ‘leasing’ race, in which 15 of the 20 runners were leased for amounts from £50 up. Highest was £600, and Les Ward, of race sponsors, Milcars, collected the £3000 prize when 3/1 favourite Tarawa won.

OCT 13, 1984………….WHAT A LOAD OF RUBBISH……………………..Steve Smith Eccles’ riding of Green Dolphin in a Uttoxeter chase today in 1984, decided one punter – or else why did he throw a dustbin at them during the race? They didn’t win.

OCT 13, 1837………BY GEORGES………………..Pryoress, El Hakim and Queen Bess were inseparable crossing the line in the 1837 Cesarewitch at Newmarket. Prior to the run-off, bookie George Hodgman quickly engaged crack jockey George Fordham to replace the original rider on Pryoress, and plunged thousands on them winning before word got out. He cleaned up.

OCT 14, 1862…………………….CLASSIC LOSER………………..Five time Classic winner trainer, William Chifney, died in poverty aged 76 today in 1862, despite having won a reported £18,000 – worth over £1.5million today – when he won the 1830 Derby with his own horse Priam.

OCT 14, 2004……..(S)KATING ON THIN ICE?…………….‘I know that some of the jockeys can’t wait to get skating’ declared Lingfield’s Kate Hills today in 2004, announcing that the track was to introduce between November, 2004 and January 2005 ‘a customised, under-cover ice rink.’

OCT 15, 1994…………………DEAD WRONG…………………….…Absalom’s Lady and Large Action were awarded a dead-heat in an Ascot hurdles race today in 1994, only for the judge, Jane Stickels, two hours later, to promote the former as outright winner by a short-head. Very few were impressed.

OCT 15, 1990………..LESTER AT LEICESTER…..Five years after retiring, Lester Piggott returned at Leicester, beaten in a photo in one race, drawing a blank in the other two as Walter Swinburn rode five winners on the card only to be asked by a radio presenter; ‘Are you worried about Lester Piggott’s return?’

OCT 16, 1804……..CHANCELLOR TRAVELS FAR TO CASH IN….. Chancellor won two two-mile heats to land the inaugural Ayr Gold Cup today in 1804. On the same afternoon the horse won an event consisting of four four mile heats, eventually finishing second, thus running a total of some twenty miles in a single afternoon, carrying 8st 10lbs. Amazingly, Chancellor won the Ayr Gold Cup again in 1805, after which the heats were scrapped.

OCT 16, 1996……………….JOCKING THEMSELVES OFF………………………………….Frankie Dettori and Pat Eddery were among 21 jockeys who went on strike after the first race at Haydock, climing the course was too dangerous after heavy rain had made the sharp final turn unsafe. The meeting was abandoned.

OCT 17, 1992…………..SUE’S HAD BETTER DAYS……………Trainer Sue Bradburne sent five horses from her Fife stables to run at Kelso today in 1992. Two were pulled up. One unseated rider at the first. Another finished last. Her best result was via Rogany, who was a non-runner.

OCT 17, 2004………PRIDE COMES BEFORE A FALLON?……….Surrendering the 2004 champion jockey title to Frankie Dettori, Kieren Fallon, quoted in the Sunday Times, declared graciously: ‘Put it this way, I’ve got more championships left in me than Frankie. Frankie knows he’s got a gift this year….a lot of people don’t want me to be champion. I was getting silly little suspensions and Frankie was getting away with a lot.’In fact, neither of them would win the title again. Frankie has won three titles, Fallon six, but Frankie’s 233 winners in 1994 trumps Fallon’s highest winning score of 207.

AND FINALLY………..ON OCTOBER 14, 1972, one of the all-time equine greats, Brigadier Gerard won on his final racecourse appearance in the Champion Stakes, going off at 1/3. Running in the name of owner-breeder John Hislop’s wife, Jean, he was ridden as usual by Joe Mercer for Dick Hern. Winning 17 of 18 starts,including the 2000 Guineas and King George VI-Q Elizabeth Stakes, from 5f to 1m4f – (what do you think of that, Frankel?) – ‘The Brigadier’ won some £250,000 in prize money, worth over £2million now.

GRAHAM SHARPE


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