AUTHOR: Star Sports Content

SHARPE MIND: Tommy’s Six of the Best

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 27 June and 3 July.

🗓️ JUNE 27, 1920


Pride tragically came before a fall for jockey William Lane – champion in 1902 with 170 winners. He died on this date in 1920, still suffering the after-effects of a fall at Lingfield in 1904, just a fortnight after he’d completed the fillies’ Triple Crown on Pretty Polly.

🗓️ JUNE 27, 2009


Madeleine, Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber’s wife, celebrated their Dar Re Mi’s 9/2 success in the Audi Pretty Polly Stakes at The Curragh by suggesting to the sponsor’s boss, John Hayes – ‘We’ll send you a cd if you send us an Audi!’

🗓️ JUNE 28, 1791


A right royal gamble reportedly landed a £17,000 payout for regal punter George, Prince of Wales as his 20/1 Baronet won Ascot’s Oatland Stakes under Sam Chifney. It was probably the first major race at the course, worth 2950 guineas to the winner, at a time when the Derby was worth £1076.

🗓️ JUNE 28, 2009


Asked to name his favourite racecourse, Channel 4 Racing presenter Jim McGrath opted for Longchamp, but added that ‘I can stomach anywhere save Brighton, which I last visited in 1984.’

🗓️ JUNE 29, 1974


Named English Prince – but ridden by Frenchman, Yves Saint-Martin for owner Vera Hue-Williams, who was beating her husband, Colonel Hue-Williams-owned 11/5 favourite, Imperial Prince into second – the 8/1 shot, trained by Peter Walwyn won the Irish Derby, as the H-Ws collected a total £90,993 in prize money.

🗓️ JUNE 29, 1991


A 35-year-old woman died after scaffolding fell from the grandstand at Santa Anita racecourse, USA, during an earthquake registering 6.0 on the Richter Scale, The course was in use for training purposes at the time.

🗓️ JUNE 30, 1897


Having ridden a single winner during the season thus far, Tommy Fiely rode six at the three day Irish Derby meeting, including, on this day, the big one, on 4/1 favourite, Wales, owned and trained by W P Cullen.

🗓️ JUNE 30, 1987


Having won virtually all of the major jumps prizes in the UK, Michael Dickinson -three times champion jumps trainer, began training in the US and won with the first horse he sent out there – 2yo Bold Magistrate at Philadelphia Park. Dickinson demonstrated his versatility with Da Hoss, who he trained to win the 1996 and 1998 Breeders Cup Mile, despite the horse only having had one race in between, owing to injury.

🗓️ JULY 1, 1944


John Knight, Managing Director of Royal Windsor racecourse at the time, was watching the runners for the Combermere Plate in the paddock, with 4/9 favourite Travel On receiving the majority of racegoer attention. Suddenly an announcement came over the course loudspeakers, warning those present to ‘lie flat as a flying bomb is approaching the racecourse.’ Everyone dived to the ground as the missile narrowly over-flew the racecourse, striking a chimney stack and exploding just half a mile from the track. Mr Knight was unperturbed and continued with pre-race preparations, which resulted in the expected win for Travel On.

🗓️ JULY 1, 2009


After the opening 2.10 race, a two and a half mile novice hurdle, had been run, Worcester’s meeting was abandoned, due to extreme heat and water shortage. Charlie Egerton-trained Highland Laddie had collapsed twice after racing and needed hundreds of gallons of water to be poured over him. The 4yo, who finished 3rd of 14 at 16/1 never raced again.

🗓️ JULY 2, 2021


It was reported on this date that Arazi, one of the most impressive winners in Breeders’ Cup history, had died the day before, at the grand age of 32.

The chestnut with three white socks romped to a stunning victory in the Juvenile in 1991, and ran up a seven-race unbeaten sequence as a two year old. Trained by Francois Boutin, he was the first winner of the Cartier Horse of the Year award that year.

🗓️ JULY 3, 1929


Place backers of Gashmu at Newmarket on this date were thin on the ground – as the horse returned a dividend of £20 17/6d to a 2/- stake.

🗓️ JULY 3, 1937


‘Some of my favorite(sic) performers are horses!’ – declared ‘Old Blue Eyes’ himself, Frank Sinatra, no stranger to a racecourse, quoted by William Murray in his 1976 book, Horse Fever, in which he records how Sinatra’s fellow crooner Bing Crosby was to a large extent responsible for the opening of Del Mar racecourse on July 3, 1937. He also records that Bing’s High Strike won the very first race, and that Crosby also broadcast a half-hour radio show from the track every Saturday, as well as making his song ‘Where The Turf Meets The Surf’ synonymous with the course – it became famous for being played there before the first and after the last race.

🗓️ AND FINALLY……JUNE 27, 2021


Noel Furlong, the man who stung bookies to the tune of £1.5 million when pulling off a coup at the 1991 Cheltenham Festival, died at the age of 83. A trainer and charismatic owner, he also made global headlines when winning the 1999 World Series of Poker in Las Vegas, netting $1m. Known as Noel due to his date of birth on Christmas Day of 1937, but christened John James, he founded multi-million-Euro carpeting business Furlong Flooring in 1980.

The Dublin-born businessman, who died peacefully at home on Sunday, June 27, 2021, will be forever remembered in racing and betting circles for his extraordinary punting spree in early 1991, which began with an estimated £1m payout from The Illiad’s win in the Ladbroke Hurdle at Leopardstown.

At the Cheltenham Festival, Destriero – sporting Furlong’s black and red silks after being bought from Mick O’Toole following a debut bumper win – lined up in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.

Furlong’s wife Betty unofficially oversaw the horse’s training duties, but was refused a licence to train her husband’s horses, leading Andrew Geraghty to be officially recognised as the trainer. Having reportedly placed £300,000 on Destriero, as well as doubling him with The Illiad in the Champion Hurdle, Furlong’s punt was rewarded when the novice landed the festival opener by four lengths at 6-1.

The Illiad failed to complete the double, but Furlong’s name firmly became a part of Cheltenham folklore.