AUTHOR: Star Sports Content

SHARPE MIND: Bah, Humbug!

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 19 December and 25 December.

🗓️ DEC 19, 1963………..HAYLEY 32 YEARS BEHIND GAY……..….Born on this date in 1963, jockey turned trainer Gay Kelleway became the first female jockey to win at Royal Ascot, when doing so on Sprowston Boy, trained by Dad, Paul Kelleway, in the 1987 Queen Alexandra Stakes – and later declaring, ‘Although in 1987 some jockeys still did not like being beaten by a woman, it had become accepted, but I never felt as if I was accepted as a jockey in the eyes of the public. Male jockeys accepted me after a few dirty tricks, when they saw that I was serious’. She rode 85 winners in all, and it was 32 years before another woman – Hayley Turner- matched her with a Royal Ascot winner in 2019.

🗓️ DEC 19, 2021………..JJ CUT UP BADLY!……..Paul Townend took revenge on fellow rider JJ Slevin for beating him, and winning the Mares Novice Hurdle at Thurles when, offered the chance of shaving JJ’s head in the winner’s enclosure for charity, the champion jockey left Slevin looking like a character from The Last Of The Mohicans.It was all for a worthy cause, though, baldly speaking, with Slevin going hairless to raise awareness for Muscular Dystrophy Ireland, a charity close to his heart.

🗓️ DEC 20, 1989……..TON-UP PETE – AGAIN……On Dec 20, 1988 Peter Scudamore rode his 100th winner of the season having taken 291 rides to do it. On his 242nd ride in 1989 – and on the same date, Peter completed his century of winners for the season again, when Redgrave Devil won at Bangor.

🗓️ DEC 20, 1605……………..JIM’S ROYAL LETDOWN……..King James I splashed out £154 for an Arabian horse of which he harboured high hopes – which, it seems, were not ultimately justified, as the Duke of Newcastle later commented; ‘When he came to run, every horse beat him.’

🗓️ DECEMBER 21, 1848…………OLDEST KIWI COURSE……..…. New Zealand’s Wanganui Racecourse opened on this date in 1848. The racing surface was ‘little more than a barren waste of sandhills and holes, flax, toetoe, ti-tree and tutu with little native grass’ described course historian, Laraine Sole. The Club is the oldest in the country still operating on its original land.They race on a sand-based 1700 metre track. There were three races on the 1848 opening day. Local clergyman, the Reverend Richard Taylor was there, observing that on that occasion; ‘Perhaps 700 Europeans were assembled at the races, many passing their time swearing, drinking and gambling, while exactly opposite nearly 4000 of the Maori had congregated from all parts of the district, some as far away as 150 miles, to celebrate a Saviour’s birth.’

🗓️ DECEMBER 21, 2006………MUCH MISSED…………Four-time British champion jockey, Aussie, Scobie Breasley, born in Wagga Wagga, New Guinea, in 1914, and twice a Derby winner, on Santa Claus, and Charlottown, died aged 92……..on the same date in 1933, jockey Tod Sloan, known as ‘monkey-on-a-stick’ for the revolutionary style of riding he brought over to the UK from the USA, only to be warned off in 1900, died penniless in a Los Angeles hospital…..and 77 year old former trainer Stuart Murless, who sent out Nocturnal Spree to win the 1975 1000 Guineas was another turf casualty on the same date in 1994.

🗓️ DECEMBER 22, 1946……..MAJOR TRIUMPH……..Riding his own horse, whose name might raise an eyebrow or two these days, Maror Victor McCalmont, a member of the Jockey Club and Irish Turf Club won the Killerby Hurdle at Catterick – on Bluetit.

🗓️ DEC 22, 2003………..RECORD POINT SCORER…………One of the most successful of all point-to-point jockeys, David Turner, died aged 59 – he’d been champion a record eight times, riding 343 winners and 50 more under Rules. He retired from race riding in 1989 but stayed on the racing scene in the capacity of a steward, on the panels at Fakenham, Huntingdon, Newmarket and Yarmouth.

🗓️ DECEMBER 23, 1999………..BETTER LATE….?……Although she had actually been training her horses for years, Lewes-based Auriol Sinclair, who died aged 81 on this date, was only the second woman to be officially granted a licence to do so by the Jockey Club in 1966.

🗓️ DEC 23, 2021……….McCOY THE HEROIC LIFE-SAVER……….…..Jump jockey James Bowen was knocked unconscious as he took a tumble while riding out at trainer Nicky Henderson’s stables. The 20 year old had began to choke on his tongue – until former champion jockey A P McCoy became a festive hero as he came to the rescue – ‘James was unconscious and choking’ revealed Nicky Henderson, ‘AP had to get his mouth open, which was proving extremely difficult. I’m surprised he has any fingers left at the end of his hands.’ Bowen was taken to hospital and scanned ‘amazingly everything is okay’ said Henderson but added that the rider would be off ‘for a while.’

🗓️ DEC 24, 2008……………..FESTIVE FLUTTERS…………For the first time, thousands of betting shops were legally opened for business on Christmas Eve.

🗓️ DEC 24, 2021…….SACRE BLEU, JAMES – LE CHAMP AGAIN…………James Reveley set himself up for a third French jump jockeys’ title, after his best season in that country, landing a rare century of winners, as he rode a Christmas Eve treble at Pau – becoming just the fifth rider to achieve that number in a French jumps season since the Cravache d’Or was first presented in 1958. He ended up with 102 for the year, claiming his third title in the process. Reveley had thought French lessons at school were pointless when he was growing up in Yorkshire hoping to become a successful jump jockey, but Cumbrian trainer Nicky Richards first suggested he should spend the summer months riding out for top French handler, Guillaume Macaire, to gain experience and develop his horsemanship. The rest is French racing history!

🗓️ DECEMBER 25, 1895……………REPETITIVE CONFUSION……….…The Racing Illustrated publication’s writer, ‘Druid Junior’ on this date, Dec 25, 1895, opined: ‘The constant repetition of names would be rather amusing if it were not the cause of endless confusion’, pointing out that the year’s racing just coming to an end had seen no fewer than five horses named ‘Nun’ running; four with the appellation of ‘Starlight’, ‘quite a profusion’ of ‘Count’s, and ‘Countess’es; several ‘Charlie’s, and a number of ‘Gamecock’s.

🗓️ DEC 25, 2004………..BAH, HUMBUG!………In October 2004 the government’s new Gambling Bill had made it legal for racing to take place on Christmas Day. But the British Horseracing Board’s Alan Delmonte ruled the idea out ; ‘Christmas Day has never even been considered.’ Never say never?

🗓️ AND FINALLY………DECEMBER 23, 2007…….KATIE’S CHRISTMAS ‘ARSE-BUSTER’………Recuperating from depression and cancer to return to work for trainer Henrietta Knight and the horse to which she was stable lass and groom, Katie Clark declared: ‘I think I’d have given up if it wasn’t for the yard. You’re not going to bust your arse to get back for an office job, are you!?’




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