AUTHOR: Star Sports Content

SHARPE MIND: Dickens of a Derby Winner

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 9 and January 15.

🗓️ JAN 9, 1944………STARR ATTRACTION……..The late comedian, Freddie Starr was born on this date. A keen racing fan, he owned Martin Pipe-trained Grand National winner, Miinnehoma, who he bought at auction for 35,000gns, bidding by sticking out his tongue.…your correspondent once acted as a bookie and Freddie as a punter, for a tv feature in which he backed a pantomime horse to win a race – you had to be there!

🗓️ JAN 9, 2012………….NYE ON 200/1 CERT…….…83 year old Pauline Nye, a retired army major from West Sussex quite fancied the chances of Lights of Broadway at Taunton on January 9, 2012, so staked a tenner each-way on the horse, as much because she was a fan of jockey Mark Grant. Not long after placing the bet, Pauline was £2400 better off as Lights of Broadway romped home at 200/1. ‘I watched on television and they could have heard me in the next town when I cheered her home’ said Pauline.

🗓️ JAN 10, 1995….MEAT TRADER FINALLY CHOPS IT OFF……Persistence paid off at last for veteran meat trader, 79yo Mr F Jackman, whose 2/1 Bon Secret won Lingfield’s Victory Auction Stakes by a neck – giving the butcher a rare first winner in 30 years as an owner.

🗓️ JAN 10, 2022……..HANDICAPPED BLOT HANGS ON….……The cross-country course at Pau is as one of the biggest jumping tests in European racing, with the fearsome Passage des Routes double of banks a foreboding obstacle. Riding the course on this date, Frascati Lagarde’s rider Paulin Blot, 34, lost his stirrups at the third jump as his saddle slipped from under him, although remaining on the horse’s back, so he was still carrying the correct weight, in the three-mile Prix Granel. But Blot and his 7yo partner, 18/1 fifth favourite of six, kept going, and as very heavy ground tired their opponents, they picked off rivals and ended up in second place – worth €10,800 prize money.

🗓️ JAN 11, 1919………..DICKENS OF A DERBY WINNER……..…..Subsequently named Captain Cuttle, after a character in Charles Dickens’ book, Dombey and Son, a foal was reportedly born on this date. Had he been foaled 12 days earlier he’d have become a yearling at the age of one day old….instead he grew up to win the 30 runner, 1922 Derby, at 10/1.

🗓️ JAN 11, 2022……TAFFY WAS A KNOCKOUT JOCKEY..….The death was reported on this date of former lightweight flat jockey Myrddin Lloyd ‘Taffy’ Thomas at the age of 76. Born in North Wales, a cobbler’s son,Thomas rode 878 winners in his 30 year career. Amongst his biggest winners were Absalom in the Vernons (now Haydock Park) Sprint Cup in 1978 and Royal Ascot’s King’s Stand Stakes on Sayf El Arab in 1983.Thomas started as an apprentice in 1961 in Newmarket and rode his first winner on Weather Way at defunct Hurst Park the next year. His first big win came in the Northumberland Plate on Piaco five years later and he won the Cambridgeshire (twice), Stewards’ Cup (twice), Cesarewitch and Lincoln. He came closest to winning a Classic on Tower Walk, runner-up to Right Tack in 1969’s 2,000 Guineas.His highest number of winners was 98 in 1977. He retired in 1990.Taffy bizarrely claimed to have beaten former fellow stable lad turned rock idol in the Monkees, Davy Jones by knockout in a stable lads boxing bout!

🗓️ JAN 12, 1994……LONG SHOT LANDED AT ASCOT…….Ascot caved in to protests on this date, announcing that they would now retain the Queen Alexandra Stakes as it was, and NOT shorten its length of 2m6f34yds, which made it the longest race in the Flat programme. After the subsequent redevelopment of Ascot the race became 2m 5f 159 yards long.

🗓️ JAN 12, 2013……FAIR ENOUGH……Fair Grounds Race Course, New Orleans, hosted a special night of zebra and ostrich racing.In the latter, five lined up, ridden by volunteer riders, amongst them local horse exerciser Adrian Bennet, who rode Feather Duster, only to slip off his mount and have to hold onto the bird’s reins and run alongside it as it trotted to the finish line.The contest was won by Fair Grounds jockey, Denny Velazquez, on Nom de Plumage. The Zebra Zip, included four of the striped quadrupeds and was won by Replacement Ref, ridden by Dane Noel – eventually, after two runners tried to buck their riders off.

🗓️ JAN 13, 1927…………PUNTERS BOWLED OVER BY GOOGLY?……….England cricketer Ted Arnold was owner of Bubbly, odds-on favourite to win a race at Tenby on this date, only for Arnold’s friend and professional punter Ben Warner’s stablemate runner Oyster Maid to win at 100/6 – in the process landing a huge off-course gamble. Some bookies refused ever to bet again at the course as a result while Dick Francis commented: ‘The result concealed the biggest and most bitterly resented betting National Hunt racing had ever known.’

🗓️ JAN 13, 1967……ACCURATE OBSERVATIONS?……..Presiding over a court case, Mr Justice Melford Stevenson observed that ‘The racing fraternity consists very largely of a bunch of crooks out to relieve you of your money.’…..on the same date, but in 2019, Derek ‘Tommo’ Thompson extolled the virtues of ‘virtual racing’ – ‘There are no fallers, so every horse finishes the race and no horses of jockeys get injured.’

🗓️ JAN 14, 1932……………EDDIE SNIFFED OUT WINNERS……………….US Jockey Eddie ‘Banana Nose’ Arcaro rode his first career winner at Agua Caliente. Born in 1916, Arcaro, had a 4779 career total of winners, and became an American Hall of Fame rider, who won more US Classic races than any other jockey in history and became the only rider to have won the US Triple Crown twice. Arcaro was also a driving force behind the creation of the Jockeys Guild.He died in November 1997.

🗓️ JAN 14, 1997…………CHARLIE COULDN’T HAVE HIS CAKE, OR EAT IT………….There was a commemorative cake to mark the occasion as 71 year old Charlie – real Christian name Arthur – Moore’s final career runner after 36 years as a trainer – Kingsdown Trix – went to post at Lingfield, coming back in 6th place of 7. Moore, however, grandfather of Ryan, was nowhere to be seen to be offered the cake – he’d gone off to an appointment with his heart specialist. He’d had heart attacks and surgery in the past, and the former used car dealer died in October, 2000. His favourite expressions were that he’d been around ‘since Hyde Park was a flower pot and the town hall was a watchman’s hut’.

🗓️ JAN 15, 1740………..RIVER RUNNERS……………..…..Six runners and riders lined up for a contest over three heats of two miles each. There was no hot favourite – as the races took place on the ice on the River Tees, near Barnard Castle. Sadly, like the course, the result of the race has melted away.

🗓️ JAN 15, 2008…….GREY GAMBLE DIDN’T FADE………Off the course for 570 days and returning at Kempton in a two mile classified race, Fade To Grey was 66/1 on track and 109/1 on the exchanges before those odds collapsed to 8/1. The Shaun Lycett-trained gelding, 10th of 13 over the same trip last time out, won by a neck. Owner Bill Hinge admitted; ‘We’ve won £150,000.’ The trainer said, regarding the improved form shown, that the gelding was having its first run for the yard and had benefited from the step up in trip from 7f to 2m.

🗓️ AND FINALLY……………JAN 9,2021………….SHOEING HERSELF UP….Times’ sportswriter, Alyson Rudd interviewed jockey Bryony Frost, who told her that as a young child, ‘if there was no pony on hand she would stick stolen horseshoes on her pumps (trainers) and pretend to be one, competing in the Grand National, using a scarf for a tail.’ But referring back to one of her greatest triumph, when she won the King George on Boxing Day she revealed, ‘After a good win, it’s diving down to




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