SHARPE MIND

AUTHOR: Star Sports Content

SHARPE MIND: Breaking Good?

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 February 21 and February 27.


🗓️ FEB 21, 1930………TUT, TUT – SUICIDE CURSE?……..…..Racehorse owner, Lord Westbury committed suicide ‘by throwing himself out of a window of his flat in St James’s Court, London, early in the morning.’ Born in 1852, his racing colours of ‘patchwork, red cap’ were registered in 1904 and although he ‘spent a good deal of money in the endeavour to obtain good horses, as an owner he did not achieve much success on the Turf.’ Westbury’s son, who had recently died, had acted as secretary to Mr Howard Carter, and assisted in the exploration of King Tutankhamun’s tomb in the Nile Valley. Lord Westbury was a believer in the legendary curse, said to apply to those tampering with the tombs of the Pharaohs, and it was reported at the time of his death that he ‘believed that through his son he had come under the influence of the curse.’

🗓️ FEB 21, 2009…………FELLA’S BIG BONUS……….£2,755,923 was riding on 7/2 favourite, Big Fella Thanks, owned by Harry Findlay, in the Racing Post Chase at Kempton, after an anonymous Suffolk man, who won the previous week’s Scoop 6, worth £669,465.50, pledged to donate his ‘Bonus’ payment to the Royal British Legion, should he win. In the event, the horse finished 3rd – but the donor then handed over £200,000 of his previous winnings to the RBL.

🗓️ FEB 22, 1994………..THE GREAT ALL-ROUNDER…..Owner-breeder-rider John Hislop died aged 82. He rode 102 flat winners and was champion amateur for 11 consecutive years. He also partnered 48 jumps winners and was 3rd on Kami in the 1947 Grand National. Not only that, but he owned and bred the immortal Brigadier Gerard, who, In a racing career between June 1970 and October 1972,  won 17 of 18 races, including the 2000 Guineas in which he beat Mill Reef, and was rated the best racehorse trained in Britain in the 20th century. His only defeat was to Roberto in the inaugural Benson & Hedges Gold Cup.

🗓️ FEB 22, 2022…….BAFFERT BASHED….…It was announced that Medina Spirit, first past the post in the 2021 Kentucky Derby, had been officially disqualified by the Kentucky Horse Racing Board, which also handed trainer Bob Baffert a 90-day suspension and a $7,500 fine. Within a few hours, Churchill Downs officials issued a statement: ‘Today Churchill Downs recognizes (sic) Mandaloun as the winner of the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby and extends congratulations to owner/breeder Juddmonte, trainer Brad Cox and jockey Florent Geroux.’

🗓️ FEB 23, 1904……..M-M-M-MARCUS……..Future Derby winning trainer Marcus Maskell Marsh was born. He went on to win the Derby twice, with Windsor Lad in 1934 and Tulyar in 1952, despite having been sacked by his uncle, trainer Fred Darling – for not placing all of his bets with him! He died in 1983.

🗓️ FEB 23, 2009…JUST RIGHT FOR CRAIG….Just Timmy Marcus was a shock 66/1 winner over 6f at Wolverhampton on his debut, despite dwelling at the start of the 13 runner sprint – but owner Craig Watts had managed to get a tenner each-way on at 100/1, commenting, ‘You wouldn’t want him to run unbacked.’

🗓️ FEB 24, 2008…………..BROADLY SPEAKING……………..‘Every jockey needs a horse to define his early career’ declared Tom Scudamore ,after partnering David Pipe-trained Lough Derg, 5/1, to win Fontwell’s National Spirit Hurdle – and the same combination would win the race again in 2009 as 5/2 favourites. ‘My father, Peter, had Broadsword and now I’ve got Lough Derg.’ Broadsword was a classy hurdler who helped to put ‘Scu’ on the map – he went off hot favourite for the 1981 Triumph Hurdle, and was three lengths clear with 100 yards to run but was mugged on the line by Baron Blakeney. Broadsword was then second in the 1982 Champion Hurdle and then fourth in 1983. A “nearly horse” if ever there was one.

🗓️ FEB 24, 2009………..BREAKING GOOD?…………..Prolific trainer Mark Johnston returned to work in his stables following his ski-ing holiday, on this date – despite having brought back with him the unwanted St Moritz souvenir – of a broken leg.

🗓️ FEB 25, 1966……….BETTING BLIND……….. The Sporting Life Northern Spotlight column carried this item: “There was a blind jockey named McGilvray, who rode in Scotland for the grandfather of the present Malton ex-trainer, William Binnie. McGilvray was familiar with all the Scottish courses and his sense of hearing became so much more acute after blindness that he could tell how the other horses in races were going, and their proximity to him.”

🗓️ FEB 25, 1990……..START STOPS RACE………………The 11th race at US track, Charles Town was declared a no-contest when the starting gate could not be removed from the track after the race had begun. The track announcer warned the jockeys to pull up their mounts, and all wagers on the race were refunded.

🗓️ FEB 26, 1918………..RACING TRAGEDY……..….During the Derby Day meeting at Hong Kong’s Happy Valley, just after the 4th race had been run, a terrace of mat-sheds (temporary structures) outside the grandstand collapsed into temporary kitchens below, where the cooking fires merged into an inferno which spread rapidly, causing over 600 deaths.

🗓️ FEB 26, 2016………..QUIRKY OUTCOME………….Dennis Quirke resigned as New Zealand’s Chief Handicapper on 26 February 2016 after pleading guilty to two charges brought by the Racing Integrity Unit relating to the placing of some (reportedly 14 in total) small bets on New Zealand racing which, given his position as a handicapper, was a breach of the Rules of Racing. He co-operated with all investigations undertaken by the RIU and apologised to New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing.

🗓️ FEB 27, 1930…………..LOST FOR WORDS……….Taunton Stewards accepted the reason put forward by connections of Mrs J Woodman’s runner on February 27, 1930 for the horse’s non-participation in the race it was entered for- that the horse ‘couldn’t be found.’……..Now, where has that nag gone, I know I left it around here somewhere….’excuse me, have you seen…..?’

The same course staged a selling race in September, 1988, after which the winner attracted a bid of 1100 guineas – followed by one of 2800guineas, which was then increased to £1million – by a man who was promptly removed by the local constabulary, protesting that he was a member of the SAS……….The horse eventually sold for 1880 guineas.

🗓️ FEB 27, 1948…………TAYLOR-MADE GIFT…….……As a present for her 16th birthday, on this date, actress Elizabeth Taylor was gifted a blue Cadillac. However three years earlier her 13th birthday present from her MGM studio for completing the horseracing themed film, National Velvet, was the 7yo horse she’d ridden in the movie – real name King Charles, but called by her, The Pie or Pirate. The horse was a grandson of the great Man o’War, (winner of 20 of his 21 races) and was also related to Seabiscuit.

🗓️ AND FINALLY……….FEB 25, 2021……….BOWEN’S BUMPER BREAK……..…James Bowen rode one of the strangest winners of his career after breaking a rein early on in a Chepstow bumper, but holding on as Mot A Mot went clear for victory. Bowen lost control of his mount within the first furlong as the rein broke in the 2m bumper, but pressed on into the lead. Mot A Mot increased his advantag, avoiding a scare when nearly running into a wing before Bowen guided him past the winning post. With no rein, he then had to work hard to pull the horse up. “I’ve never had that happen to me and I never want it to happen again,” said Bowen: Six-time champion trainer Nicky Henderson watched the race, and commented: “It won’t be far away [from ride of the season], someone will have to do something remarkable to top that.’

GRAHAM SHARPE


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