AUTHOR: Star Sports Content

SHARPE MIND: Heroic Trainer

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 March 20 and March 26.

🗓️ MARCH 20, 1980…..GEOFF WHIPPED UP A STORM……Discussing the whip debate, Classic winning Welsh jockey Geoff Lewis, rider of the great Mill Reef, and who sent out his first winner as a trainer – Concert Hall – on this date, declared: ‘The number of times you hit them is irrelevant compared to how hard you hit them.’

🗓️ MARCH 20, 2013……KEITH’S 40+ YEAR WAIT WAS OVER………..Don’t Do Mondays, the 15/8 favourite, won a two mile novice hurdle at Warwick on March,20, 2013 – the first ever winner for owner Keith Griffin, who had owned 15 horses over 41 years without ever previously troubling the judge.

🗓️ MARCH 21, 1986…HEROIC TRAINER….Aussie-born (26-6-1895, in NSW) trainer Stanley Wootton died in Epsom on this date. In 1906 he came to Epsom with trainer father, Richard. By 1915 he’d taken out his first training licence, but joined the forces, serving in the Battle of the Somme. In July, 1916, now in the 17th Royal Fusiliers, he was reported injured. On the 29th of the month he was reported deceased. Two more days later, it was confirmed that he was NOT dead. In August that year he was awarded the Military Cross. After WW1 he trained in Epsom, retiring in 1962. In 1967 he gave his gallops to the Horserace Betting Levy Board in a 999 year lease, thus helping secure the long term future of the training industry at Epsom.

MARCH 21, 2022….A COUPLE OF JOCKEYS……Top flat jockeys Tom Marquand, 23, and Hollie Doyle, 25, married – with an inflatable horse invited along as one of the guests. The couple, boasting a combined 1400+ winners between them, were wed in Herefordshire, where Hollie was brought up. Doyle was a member of the Herefordshire Pony Club, and rode in her first pony race aged 9. In 2019 she set a new record for winners ridden in a calendar year in Britain by a female jockey with 116, passing the previous record of 106 winners set by Josephine Gordon in 2017. The couple met in their pony racing days, and were for a time apprentices together at Richard Hannon’s yard.

MARCH 22, 1984………..A REAL PRO…..Provideo won the first of what would prove to be a 20th century record of 16 victories as a 2yo – it was also the 36th birthday of his trainer Bill O’Gorman, father of jockey, Emma.

MARCH 22, 2021……GO,GO,GO, JOE…..Trainer Jacqueline Coward enjoyed her first jumps winner at the 47th attempt when 11/2 Eden Collonges landed Kelso’s 2m5f handicap hurdle. The winning feeling was nothing new for 7lb claimer Joe Williamson – it was his 3rd winner from his last five rides.

MARCH 23, 1997…FIERY PUNTERS FELT FLAMING CHEATED…A gang of outraged punters, chanting ‘Cheating, cheating…’ invaded the course when two fancied runners who finished 1st and 2nd were disqualified for interference by stewards, and a 35/1 chance promoted to winner. The enraged mob at the Royal Bangkok Sports Club track in Thailand then covered the track in rubbish which they set ablaze….despite this, stewards reviewed the film – and upheld the verdict. The rest of the meeting was then cancelled.

MARCH 23, 2022… JOCKEY JIMMY A SAD LOSS……Classic-winning jockey Jimmy Lindley, 86, a popular member of the BBC tv racing team for some 30 years after quitting the saddle, passed away. Jimmy rode 800+ winners on the Flat (during a career in the saddle of over 20 years) amongst them, the 1963 and 1966 2,000 Guineas on Only For Life and Kashmir, as well as the 1964 St Leger on Indiana. He also raced over jumps, winning the Oteley Hurdle in 1958 on Retour de Flamme, and finishing 3rd in the same year’s Champion Hurdle on that horse, behind winner Bandalore. Jimmy helped bring top US rider Steve Cauthen to Europe, coaching him as a mentor.

MARCH 24, 1859……..THAT’S LIFE – FOR 129 YEARS…The Sporting Life newspaper, costing one penny – 1d – was first published on March 24, 1859, as ‘The Penny Bell’s Life and Sporting News’. By April 30, edition 12 was calling itself ‘The Sporting Life’ It would survive for 36,910 editions, until May 12, 1988.

MARCH 24, 2022…….ADAM’S BROKEN FEAT…Two days before the race he thought would boost his career, 22 year old apprentice Adam Farragher was denied the chance to ride favourite Mujtaba for in the Lincoln as the result of a fall on the gallops.Trainer William Haggas’ 5lb claimer had to watch, with his foot in plaster, as his intended mount went off 3/1 favourite – and no doubt had mixed feelings as the horse was 12th of 22, declaring: “I landed on my ankle and broke a bone in my foot. I think I’m a lot sorer about missing the ride in the Lincoln. That hurts a lot more than the leg.’

MARCH 25, 1668……..WHO WUNN?….…One of, and probably THE oldest racing trophy discovered in America bears an inscription: ‘1668. Wunn atte hampstead plaines. March 25.’

MARCH 25, 1961……FERGIE’S FIRST FLUTTER….….Former Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson, a committed racehorse owner over the years, confessed that his first ever bet was ‘sixpence each way, or something’ on 28/1 1961 Grand National (run on March 25, 1961) winner, the grey, Nicolaus Silver – when he was 19 years old. The next grey to win was 33/1 Neptune Collonges in 2012.

MARCH 26, 1947… MEMORABLE MANNY……Cheshire-born jockey Manny Mercer, born in 1928, 29, or 30, depending on which source one consults, swooped late to win the Lincolnshire Handicap, run on Lincoln’s Carholme, on this date in 1947, at 100/1. Under five feet tall , weighing six stone, he’d begun his working life in a cotton factory but was offered an apprenticeship as a jockey. He won two Classics, the 1953 1000 Guineas on Happy Laughter, and Darius in the next year’s 2000 Guineas. Tragically, he was killed after being thrown from his mount Priddy Fair when going down to the start at Ascot on September 26, 1959. Fellow jockey Jimmy Lindley believed: “If he hadn’t been killed he would have been one of the greats. I’d put him in the same class as Lester Piggott.’

MARCH 26, 2022………..FRANKIE’S FEW BOB FROM BOB………..“I’ve known Bob for over 30 years from my time in California and I’ve galloped horses for him in the past, but I really believe it’s my first ride for him’ said Frankie Dettori after winning his 4th Dubai World Cup – and first for 16 years, on board controversial trainer Bob Baffert’s 15/2 chance County Grammer (correct spelling) to do so. But Frankie lost some of his prize money via a fine for breaking whip rules.

AND FINALLY……….ALMOST 400 YEARS AGO, A PUNTER LEGS IT TO AVOID SETTLING UP WITH HIS BOOKMAKER!…….MARCH 20….1634…….A report of a welching punter appeared in a letter, dated March 20, and complaining that ‘The Earl of Southampton, they say, hath lost a great deal of monie latelie at the Horse Races at Newmarket; but true it is, he hath licence to travel for three years and is gone in all haste to France.’




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