SHARPE MIND: Tragic Triumph

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 10 January and 16 January.

JANUARY 10, 2009…………….FRANCS ROYALLY TAPPED UP……’The last time the Queen tapped me on the shoulder was to complain about the ride I had given one of her mum’s horses’ revealed John Francome today in 2009, whilst congratulating the Injured Jockeys Fund’s Serena Oxley on receiving an OBE.

JANUARY 10, 1995……….ONE TOO MANY LET-DOWNS……..After refusing to start in his previous three races, Azureus contested a last chance saloon race at Leicester, for which he was made fifth favourite of nine at 10/1 despite his dodgy recent form figures. He duly disgraced himself yet again, condescending to set off 100 yards behind the rest, and finishing tailed off. Said trainer Henry Kavanagh; ‘I’m finished with him.’ The seven year old never contested another race.

JANUARY 11, 2009……….TRAGIC TRIUMPH………..Jamie Spencer rode Dishdasha to victory at Great Leighs on this date, wearing a black armband and, after the victory, waved his whip, to mark the recent death of aspiring jockey Jamie Yeates, 15,nicknamed ‘Spencer’ after his hero, who had ridden for the winning trainer, Alison Thorpe.

Jan 11, 2021….ED MAN’S MOVING MESSAGE……..ITV racing presenter Ed Chamberlin revealed the content of a message he had received from a viewer: “Each time I am able to tune into your coverage, it feels like therapy. I’m happy, I escape the darkness that surrounds me and for 2-3 hours I am enjoying myself again. I just wanted to say thank you.”
Commented Chamberlin: ‘For me the thing that is really resonating are the social media messages I’m getting from people saying how important racing is in their lives.’

JANUARY 12, 2021……PUNTERS’ DRONE DOWNED…..Police began an investigation after a drone, believed to be in use by in-running online punters, crashed on land next to Chepstow racecourse on Welsh Grand National day.
Such large devices, costing up to £30,000, used to get an edge on in-running exchange markets, should be registered with the Civil Aviation Authority and need a licence to fly. Ascot, Newcastle, Haydock, Leicester and Newbury had also reported issues with drones.

Jan 12, 2021……OWNER-BREEDER’S DEATH…….The death was announced, of owner and breeder Khalid Abdullah,83. His green, white and pink silks were carried by Frankel, Dancing Brave and Enable, to name but a few. Lady Cecil, Abdullah’s trainer Henry Cecil’s widow, said: “Not only did the Prince send Henry horses but he sent him good horses. It was obviously the Prince’s call to send him Frankel and it gave him something to get up in the morning for.”

JANUARY 13, 1965……………CROWDED HOUSE………..An astonishing record 229 runners contested the eight races at Worcester today.

JANUARY 13, 1988………..LUCKY THIRTEENTH, FOR PETE’S SAKE……….Jockey Peter Niven’s luck was in as he rode four winners for four different trainers at Edinburgh today in 1988 to land a 318/1 four-timer.

JANUARY 14, 1993………SNIFFING OUT FREEBIES…Explaining why it was against Jefferson Park racecourse’s free admission experiment today in 1993,, US magazine The Blood Horse looked down its nose and sniffed ‘When there is no admission, desirable persons remain away, because they do not want to be present with the sort of people who attend only because it is free.’

JANUARY 14, 1993……….FOURTEEN AT FOURTEEN……………………..Sabin du Loir’s career was called over today, after he raced aged 14 at Wincanton, ridden by Peter Scudamore, trained by Martin Pipe, starting at 85/40- and won by a neck – his 14th victory in 23 races over fences – he also won over hurdles – collecting almost £250,000 prize money . Not only that, he raced against Desert Orchid on five occasions – beating him four times.

JANUARY 15, 2020……………………A TROUBLESOME SPELL……………..On Twitter today in 2020, David Stevens, aka @Pompey_Dave observed: ‘Just looking at tomorrow’s @NewburyRacing card, how did Fukuto get past the @BHAPressOffice name police?!’

JANUARY 15, 1998…………QUEEN MUM’S LOSER……..12/1 shot Indian Arrow won the Lillo Lumb Chase at Wincanton – however, connections were unable to receive the race trophy, because, having won it in 1996, the Queen Mother had mislaid it! The 1997 running was abandoned. Her spokesman Alastair Aird explained; ‘We think as the trophy was won in the West Country it is probably at Windsor Castle.’

JANUARY 16, 1992……..OVER IN A FLASH…..Deep Flash became the first runner to be declared a non-runner for betting purposes, after the 150/1 chance refused to race at Taunton, having come under orders.

JANUARY 16,1994………..THE REST NOWHERE!…….Four year old debutant, Suzhou streaked to a 42 length victory first time out in a sprint race at Dortmund – later claimed to be the greatest ever official winning margin in German racing history.

AND FINALLY………RACE CHRISIS……..Four of the five jockeys contesting a race at Southwell on January 10, 2008, ignored a recall flag and completed the 1m course, with 2/1 Jord ‘winning.’ However, only Chris Catlin, riding 10/1 Rebellious Spirit pulled up his mount as required. A re-run was staged, but the other four were ineligible, having already passed the post, so Catlin and his mount were able to go round in splendid isolation to walk over.