AUTHOR: Star Sports Content

SHARPE MIND: Art’s Ascot Angle

In this week’s SHARPE MIND blog sports betting PR legend GRAHAM SHARPE brings us 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. This week he digs out some of the golden moments from between January 16 and January 22.

🗓️ JANUARY 16, 1999……..LOADS OF BAD LUCK…….Amateur rider Keith Loads got his day off to a great start, by marrying Kate Heynes at Lingfield – he then took part in the race named in honour of their nuptials – putting up 18lbs overweight on Badrinath who, as a result, was unsurprisingly a 25/1 outsider – and ran like it, finishing 9th of 9 – a distance behind the 8th placed runner.

🗓️ JANUARY 16, 2013……..THAT WAS DOTTIE, BABY!……..….The seven runners set off for the last race on the card, the 3.40, a 6f handicap, at Lingfield, but forty minutes after the race had finished punters only knew that Baby Dottie had won, in the process, giving rider Sophie Ralston her first career victory. The race was run in foggy conditions, with visibility deemed acceptable at the start. However, ‘swirling fog’ apparently blanketed the final straight and judge, Dave Smith, was only able to determine the identity of the winner. In-coming jockeys were interviewed by the stewards as they weighed in, in an effort to determine the full result, after which it was decided that only the winner, and Spartic, now identified by being the only runner wearing cheekpieces, deemed the runner-up, could be officially placed.

Not best pleased was trainer Dominic Ffrench Davis, who was adamant that his Brandywell Boy had finished third and believed he had, er, ‘mist’ out on £302 prize money.

🗓️ JAN 17, 1968…….CHAMP’S FIRST WINNER………..….Unknown jockey Bob Champion rode his first winner, Altercation, at Plumpton. He would become very much better known both for having and surviving cancer, then for raising millions to fight the disease, and for winning the Grand National on Aldaniti.

🗓️ JANUARY 17, 2007…ART’S ASCOT ANGLE….Arthur Buchwald, who died on this date, aged 81 was an American newspaper columnist for The Washington Post. He was quoted as saying of Ascot racecourse: ‘Ascot is so exclusive that it is the only racecourse in the world where the horses own the people.’

🗓️ JANUARY 18, 1992…….IVOR FEELING THAT’S WRONG!………….…..Favourite backers began celebrating as 6/4 market leader, Major Ivor, was announced as the winner of the 4.00 race at Catterick – only for Judge, Jonathan Dimsdale, to change his mind minutes later, and hand the win to 8/1 Blackdown.

🗓️ JANUARY 18, 1997…….WAS NEV BACKING A WINNER?……………..Having sent out the winners of THREE Grand Nationals, FIVE Scottish Nationals, and TWO Welsh Nationals, Neville Crump, died at the age of 86, on this date. However, he had one, some might say, entirely understandable quirk – refusing point blank ever to train any horse owned by a bookmaker.

🗓️ JAN 19, 1951………MARTIN’S FATAL JOURNEY………..Martin Blackshaw, born on this date, rode 300+ winners (the first, in April 1966, at Ripon, was named Nut Case) as a dual-purpose rider in the UK, before riding widely abroad, becoming champion jump jockey in both Norway and Belgium. In 1976 he was riding the infamous ‘gambling coup’ horse, Gay Future, at Wetherby, only for his mount to fall and die. He took up training in 1980, but died tragically and early in a 1989 car crash.

🗓️ JAN 19, 2007…….NO REGRETS FOR MOURNERS…………….….There was a great deal of support from the Darwen, Lancashire area for Time To Regret at Wolverhampton on this date. 27 year old Ross Plumber’s father Harry, 52, had recently died, but left instructions that mourners at his funeral should not buy flowers but instead back Time To Regret with the money they would otherwise have spent florally. The horse duly obliged at 11/8. Ross had also ‘stuck a form guide and racing paper in his coffin.’

🗓️ JAN 20, 1976………JOCKEY CLUB JUMP FORWARD…………….….. The Sex Discrimination Act was passed late in 1975, and the Jockey Club announced on this date, that women could apply for professional and amateur licences to ride over jumps.

🗓️ JAN 20, 2022………..DEELITEFUL PERFORMANCE……..…..The death was reported of Popcorn Deelites, a racehorse born on April 19, 1998 who raced at a low level of the sport in America for six years, reportedly winning 11 of 58 starts and accumulating $56,880 in earnings. However, this modest performer was watched by millions as a result of the star role, in which he ‘played’ the great racehorse Seabiscuit in the 2003, successful Academy Award-nominated film of that name.

🗓️ JAN 21, 1943…………..RICH LIFE……………….. Former top jump jockey Richard Pitman, born on January 21, 1943, who rode Crisp into second place in the Grand National of 1973, Red Rum’s first victory, and who was once married to trainer Jenny Pitman, made an amazing sacrifice in February 2012 at the age of 69, when he donated a kidney to a complete stranger. He once listed his favourite recreations as ‘dog walking and water ski-ing’ – not, one trusts, at the same time! Also described his career as ‘470 winners and 5000 losers.’

🗓️ JANUARY, 21..2022….WOODS YOU BELIEVE IT?…………. Market Rasen racecourse tweeted at 12.17 today: ‘Following frost overnight and three inspections this morning, it was decided that racing should be abandoned. A selection of trainers, jockeys and officials were present for the final inspection and their views were sought in determining the outcome.’ Jockey Kielan Woods responded with a tweet of his own – ‘Absolute joke! Waste of a day for everyone! Grow a set and make the call earlier!’

🗓️ JANUARY 22, 1819…………FALLING FOR IT……………….The Sporting Magazine reported the outcome of a six runner, four mile, steeple chase run at Lismore in Ireland on this date, worth 50 guineas to the winner; ‘The country was excessively heavy and a frost in the morning did not improve it.’ The pre-race betting was that six falls was the Evens most likely outcome. In fact there were 12 as the winner, Brown Bess came down four times, third placed Doctor six times; fourth horse Dandy and last, Thrasher once each. The good news was : ‘nobody killed.’

🗓️ JAN 22, 2002………FUNNY BUSINESS FOR McCOY…………..Southwell’s Feast of St Raymond Novice Chase attracted seven runners. Not one got round without a disaster or two along the way – Tony McCoy won on 8/11 favourite Family Business – but only after he’d remounted, having been unseated at the 10th. Of the other seven, Oh No Whiskey fell at the first; Star Control departed at the third; Red Radish unseated rider four out, as did Eaux Les Couers, having previously fallen at the 12th and remounted; Joe Luke unseated, as did What A Wonder.

Explained McCoy, later: ‘I remember falling off, and for some reason I kept watching the ones that were left. A couple had already fallen and the others weren’t jumping great. I’d got in a Land Rover to bring me back up to the winning post and as I was walking back towards the weighing room, I was still watching them jump. I think I spoke to Bob Hodge, travelling head lad for Martin Pipe, and they had caught Family Business. I said to Bob ‘why don’t I just get back up on him?’ When I got back up there were still three left. I went back down and I remember thinking ‘do I have to jump the fence that I fell off at?’ I thought I’d better in case they say I haven’t completed the course. So I jumped the fence again.’

🗓️ AND FINALLY……..JAN 17, 2021…..OWL SWANS IN….Eight of the 14 runners came down during the Sporting Life Beginners’ Chase at Punchestown, largely due to loose horses running in unpredictable directions. Favourite, Ensel Du Perche ‘headbutted’ the first, bringing down two other runners. At the seventh, the leading group of four were carried out by two loose horses. That left 7/1 chance Owl Creek Bridge in front, and seven of the 14 remaining – six after Miss Cedille fell with four to jump. Owl Creek Bridge went on to win, despite having to avoid a swan in the straight.




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