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 back on the week between 22 February and 28 February.
▫️ INTRODUCING… THE TEN BOB MILLIONAIRE: Fred Craggs was feeling lucky on February 22, 2008…..so he picked 10/1 shot Isn’t That Lucky at Sandown as the first leg of his EIGHT selection 50p accumulator in his local Thirsk betting shop, deciding to finish it off with a 2/1 chance A Dream Come True……I can tell you’re ahead of me, here – as not only did those two oblige – so did the other six, including three at Nad Al Sheba. This could have been a problem, as his bookie had a hundred grand limit on bets including foreign races….however, they waived it, and Fred duly became the country’s newest millionaire!
▫️ THE NUMBER EIGHT figures prominently in this week’s stories, as we’ve just seen. On the same date, in 2003 12-year-old gelding Leaping Plum won the same race – the 4f (and why can’t we have such a sprint distance over here? Discuss…) Grasmick Handicap at Fonner Park, Nebraska for the EIGHTH time since 1995.
▫️ OFF COURSE… Heading for Huntingdon on February 23, 1993, Peter Upson-trained Mansfield House found himself racing on an unfamiliar surface when his horsebox crashed on the A604 dual carriageway, leaving him free to set off charging along the road, until he was happily caught before he could damage himself.
▫️ EIGHT FIGURES AGAIN… Trainer J C Williams set what was claimed at the time to be a world record on February 24, 1979, when sending out EIGHT winners on the 12 race card at the Waterford Park course – since renamed Mountaineer Park – in West Virginia.
▫️ WHAT’S LUCK GOT TO DO WITH IT!? ‘Over the years, I’ve been very lucky’ said jockey Brendan Powell, who broke his leg at Doncaster on February 24, 1992……. However, Brendan’s definition of ‘lucky’ presumably overlooked the small matter of his ruptured stomach, the internal bleeding, that other broken leg; oh, yes, and a broken arm; then there was the broken wrist; not to forget the broken collar-bones. Hope I’m never that lucky……
▫️ WHO’D HAVE GUEST? Jockey Richard Guest came down to earth with a bump at Wincanton on February 25, 1988 – recording his EIGHTH fall in five days.
▫️ UNWANTED CHELTENHAM TREBLE… for jockey Adrian Maguire, who broke his arm at Leicester on February 25, 1997, meaning that for the third successive season he would have to miss the Cheltenham Festival. The previous year he had suffered a broken collar-bone, and the year before that he was sadly mourning the recent loss of his mother.
▫️ SPECTACULAR WIN… Jockey Andy Orkney caught the eye as he made a spectacle of himself when winning properly for the first time on February 26, 1985 on Golden Ty at Nottingham. He’d previously ridden what he thought was his first winner, Joca, at Ayr on February 9, 1985 – only for the horse to be disqualified after failing a dope test. Enough to leave him somewhat glassy-eyed – all quite appropriate for a man who was a qualified optometrist and ran an optician’s in Leyburn, Middleham.
▫️ STREETS AHEAD… Four times winner of the Aintree Hurdle, twice winner of the Breeders Cup Chase, and 1991 Champion Hurdle winner, Morley Street, who raced 45 times, winning 20 of them for prize money of £589,589 died aged 25 on February 26, 2009.
▫️ IF AT FIRST YOU DON’T SUCCEED… carry on plugging away for quarter of a century – which is just what 56 year old George Turner, believed at the time to be the oldest active jockey in the country, did when he partnered Rathmichael on February 27, 1993, to win at the Lemalla point-to-point in Cornwall – the first winner he’d ridden there in 25 years of trying.
▫️ THEY WERE QUAKING ALL OVER on February 27, 2008 when an earthquake registering 5.2 on the Richter Scale – the strongest in England for 25 years – hit, with its epicentre at Market Rasen, where the racecourse Managing Director, Pip Kirkby commented: ‘We’ve been telling everyone for years that Market Rasen is the epicentre of the world.’ Fortunately, no serious damage was reported at the course.
▫️ DIARY NOTE… ‘The Duke of Devon lost £1900 at a race at Newmarket’ noted the diarist John Evelyn on February 28 – not that unusual, you might think – no, except that this was on February 28, 1699 and would today be the equivalent of £203,268.27…….
▫️ AND FINALLY, WELL DONE OLD BOY… Sonny Somers won over fences at Lingfield on February 28, 1980 – his second victory at the age of 18.