SHARPE MIND: The Original Big Mac

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 looks into the week between January 11 and January 17.

▫️ THE ORIGINAL BIG MAC? The sadly missed John McCririck was, of course, a real, larger than life figure on the British betting scene for many years, but his much earlier fore-runner was also an extravagantly clad, arm-waving figure, who plied his trade as a tipster on Britain’s racecourses under the name of Prince Ras Monolulu. His trademark cry to punters was: ‘I gotta horse’ – however, to discover the name of that animal it was required to cross his palm with silver.

Claiming to be from Abyssinia, he was actually born Peter Carl McKay in the Danish West Indies, now the US Virgin Islands, in 1881, and soon began establishing himself as a maverick racing character in his colourful robes, and plumed headdress, after arriving in England early in the 20th century, and really hitting the headlines when his 100/6 tip Spion Kop obliged in the 1920 Derby. He died in 1965, having had a pub named in his honour, and on January 11, 1994, he was remembered again when two jackets belonging to him were bought at auction for £760 by the National Horseracing Museum, where, one assumes, they can be seen to this day….

▫️ HIGH-QUALITY BIRTH DATE January 11 was a popular day for future racing figures to be born on – and it is the birthday of such popular and successful characters as 13 time champion jockey Fred Archer in 1857; Henry Cecil in 1943, Walter ‘Wally’ Swinburn in 1937, and Richard Hughes in 1973.

▫️ HOLY UNDERSTANDABLE On this day in 1991 a possibly unique betting shop opening took place at Old Bailey in London, officially performed by the Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral.

▫️ STARMINE IS STARNOONE’S On January 12, 1993, if just one tote client had backed 66/1 Leicester winner, Starmine, it would have paid odds of 1530/1 – but no one did!

▫️ WON BY A FURLONG However, on the same date in 1991 a mega gamble was landed in the Leopardstown Hurdle as the owner of The Illiad, smashed down in the market from 33/1 to 7/1 landed a reported £400,000 winning bet for owner Noel Furlong.

▫️ LONGEST ODDS? There were very few takers, even at the extraordinary price of 3000/1 for Park Slave to win the Whixley Hurdle at Wincanton on January 13, 1988, and he duly finished 7th.

▫️ KARATE KID Any friend forgetting that former jockey Alan Munro, winner of the 1991 Derby on Generous, celebrates his 54th birthday on January 14 should stand well back – he’s a karate black-belt.

▫️ TOPLESS TOPPLED Pro punter Dave Nevison cheered home Topless, clear on the run-in, at Taunton to win him £200,000 from his £400 Tote Super 7 bet on January 15, 2009……only for jockey James Davies to fall off yards from the winning post.

▫️ DOUBLE TROUBLE Swindler, Windscales and Zelotes all won on January 17, 1890 at Plumpton – then all returned the next day and all won again.

▫️ AND FINALLY…..LITERALLY A DEAD CERT Raahin won a Fontwell hurdle race on January 16 in 1995, becoming one of the few dead horses to win following their death – having died for 6 minutes whilst under anesthetic in February, 1994.