AUTHOR: davidstewart

SHARPE MIND: Dream Winner…

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 21 March and 27 March.

MARCH 21,1871……..DREAM WINNER…..The Lamb, a 5/1 shot, was a dream winner for owner, Lord Poulet, who ‘saw’ Tommy Pickernell riding the horse to victory in a dream. He woke up and booked the jockey for the ride.

MARCH 21, 2008…….THE VICAR DIDN’T MIND……..For the first time, betting shops were permitted to open on Good Friday, in 2008 on March 1. A number of ‘Christian groups’ were outraged and sent out press releases abhorring the practice. Those looking for an opinion from above noted that three days later at Huntingdon, The Vicar was made 9/4 favourite and duly obliged.

MARCH 22, 2008…..OK TO SMOKE………..Smokey Oakey, 10/1, won the 2008 Lincoln on March 22. The horse was co-owned by actress Dame Judi Dench, and named after her grandson, Samuel Michael Oak Williams – ‘We cried uncontrollably – it was thrilling and wonderful’ revealed Dame J.

MARCH 22, 1922….WHITE OUT……..‘Just in case’ explained financier Jimmy White, staking £1000 on his own 20/1 shot Granely in the Lincoln, despite being tied up at work and unable to watch the race. The horse won, but five years later his finances were wiped out on the stock exchange, and he committed suicide.

MAR 23, 2012…BY GEORGE!…….With one to jump, rookie jockey George Gorman, 17, was cruising to victory at Newbury on March 23, 2012 in only his second race. He and equine partner, second favourite, Merry Vic were several lengths clear – only to mistakenly miss out the last fence completely. ‘In a few seconds I’ve gone from the highlight of my life to the worst moment of my life’ sighed the distraught rider. Here’s how the ride was recorded by the Racing Post: ‘Hit 2nd and 7th, ridden and outpaced 14th, rallied 4 out, led 3 out, driven and 2 lengths in front when incorrectly bypassed final fence, finished 8 lengths clear, rider took wrong course.’

MARCH 23, 1877……….HOLD ON, HOBSY!…….Displaying one of the most eccentric and unorthodox riding styles ever seen, Fred Hobson won today’s 1877 Grand National on 15/1 Austerlitz, holding on to his saddle at every jump. He never contested the race again.

MARCH 24, 1999…….TOWCESTER TOILS…….…Despite claiming an unexpected call of nature was to blame, jockey Fred Hutsby was disqualified and fined £265 today in 1999 after winning on 2/1 favourite Rusk at Towcester but then weighing in one and a half pounds light.

MARCH 24, 2004………….KIWI SUPERSTAR……..A saddle used on racing superstar, Phar Lap, was sold for AU$ 87,500 at an auction in Melbourne on March 24, 2004. Born in 1926, Phar Lap, was a champion New Zealand-bred, widely regarded as that country’s greatest racehorse ever. He won the Melbourne Cup, two Cox Plates, the Aussie Derby and 19 other weight for age races.

MARCH 25, 1927…….GOOD EFFORT…….The first radio commentary of a Grand National took place on March 25, 1927 – with Sporting Life journalist Meyrick Good the chief commentator, as 8/1 favourite Sprig won the 37 runner race – only 7 completed the course – ridden by Ted Leader, who father, Tom, a good friend of Good, trained the horse. Good was reportedly paid a good fee of 100 guineas for his work.

During the previous two runnings of the race Good had acted as commentator for King George V, who was reportedly alongside him for the radio debut, in which Good had George Allison as his assistant – who would go on to become manager of Arsenal FC.

MARCH 25, 1997…………WILLIE’S BRITT DOUBLE?…..Scottish jockey Willie Carson became a director of Swindon Town Football Club on March 25 in 1997 – having recently being bizarrely nominated in a newspaper lookalike competition as a dead ringer for……actress Britt Ekland.

MARCH 26, 1960…NATIONAL ON THE BOX……The first televised Grand National was won by 13/2 favourite,(the first clear market leader to win for 33 years) and first Scottish-bred winner, Merryman II under 22 year old Gerry Scott, who had broken his collarbone just a fortnight earlier. It was trainer Neville Crump’s third success in the race. BBC presenter, Cliff Michelmore stepped in late on to substitute for David Coleman, who was suffering from appendicitis. The BBC utilised 16 cameras round the course, with Peter O’Sullevan (who had been doing so on radio since 1947) commentating on his first of 38 televised Grand Nationals.

MARCH 26, 2021……UNFAIRER SEX?.…’The notion of an allowance for female horses is now as incongruous and outdated as anyone who would call for an allowance for female jockeys.’ declared Peter Thomas in the Racing Post. He has a point.

MAR 27, 2020…FIREY CHARACTER…….. Former apprentice jockey Nathan Alison, with 54 winners to his credit, was about to don a very different type of safety helmet, reported the Racing Post, revealing: ‘he is in the latter stages of an ambitious career change to become a firefighter’ with Suffolk Fire & Rescue Service in Newmarket.

MARCH 27, 1995……NAMELESS NONSENSE……Two year old filly Wear The Fox Hat was scheduled to run in the first race at Folkestone on March 27. 1995 – until the Jockey Club demanded the horse to be withdrawn unless her name was changed. It was – to Nameless – but she was then withdrawn.

AND FINALLY.…..FERGIE’S TANNER EACH-WAY….….Former Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson, born in 1941, and a committed racehorse owner over the years, confessed that his first ever bet was ‘sixpence each way’ on 1961 Grand National (run on March 25, 1961) winner, the grey, Nicolaus Silver, who won at 28/1, so the bet would have won him about eighteen bob (sorry about that, decimal currency youngsters, ask your parents!) The next grey to win was, also at 28/1 bizarrely enough, Neptune Collonges in 2012.