MISC

14 December, 2021

AUTHOR: James Dowen

SHARPE MIND: Was He The Best Ever?

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 6 and 12 December.


DECEMBER 13, 1968…………….JET’S BELLY FLOP………………’Dark Jet is so far in front he can fall and still win’ declared Sandown’s racecourse commentator today in 1968, just as Terry Biddlecombe’s mount came down at the last, slithering along the ground on his belly, with Biddlecombe somehow staying put, then galvanising the horse back into action and going on to win by five lengths.

DECEMBER 13, 1969…………ROY’S BRAINCHILD A PUNTING WINNER…..A new tv accumulator bet, the ITV Saturday Seven – invented, so he told me, by debonair William Hill director, Roy Sutterlin – launched today in 1969 and was an instant success, with Hills alone taking 75,000 bets and opening 400 new telephone accounts on the day.

DECEMBER 14, 1870………………GOOD LORD…………………………….…Lord Poulett, who owned chaser The Lamb had a dream that the horse won the Grand National, ridden by Tommy Pickernell. When he awoke, today in 1870, he set about booking Tommy to partner the horse in the big race, and they duly won the 1871 running.

DECEMBER 14, 1999…………DUN ENOUGH……………Top jump jockey Richard Dunwoody, three times champion, retired today in 1999 with 1699 career wins and 669 falls to his credit. He won the King George VI Chase four times – twice each on Desert Orchid and One Man. He also won the 1986 and ’94 Grand National, on West Tip and Miinnehoma ; the 1988 Cheltenham Gold Cup on Charter Party and the Champion Hurdle on Kribensis..

DECEMBER 15, 2019…………………..PANTING WINNER………………………………………..….The tenth annual London Pantomime Horse Race took place in Greenwich today in 2019. The event, raising money for local charities, including ‘Harpenden Riding for the Disabled (RDA)’ regularly attracts an audience of thousands. The ‘runners’ follow a course which involves several pubs, obstacle courses and a ‘space hopper challenge’. Unfortunately, but probably inevitably, this year’s race has had to be postponed but organisers hope to reschedule : ‘Sadly, due to ongoing safety concerns with current Covid infection rates, the Panto Horse race will now take place later in 2022. Full details to be announced in spring ’22. ‘

DECEMBER 15, 2003……………GREAT BRITTAIN…..‘I get to 70 and suddenly start learning things’ declared trainer Clive Brittain, who’d taken out his first licence in 1972, today in 2003, adding – and he wasn’t far wrong – ‘Watch out for me in ten years, I could be dangerous!’ Clive began training as an apprentice in 1949, and on his own from 1972, having worked for Noel Murless. He trained at Newmarket’s Carlburg Stables and sent out his final runner prior to retirement in October 2015. His best-known horse was Pebbles,1984 1000 Guineas winner, who also won the 1985 Breeders Cup Turf.

DECEMBER 16, 2019……………NOT THE BOOKIES’ FAVOURITE MEETING………………The bookies took a hammering as all seven favourites won at Plumpton today in 2019, returning accumulative odds of 541/1. This was Plumpton history – ironically made at the very meeting where a new book on the history of the course was being unveiled!

DECEMBER 16, 1969……..IN THE RED……..Jack Berry – who became famous for his regular red shirted race day garb and his Injured Jockeys Fund involvement – saddled his first winner today in 1969 – Camasco, ridden by Tony Potts, over hurdles at Kelso.

DECEMBER 17, 2008……………..BASH BEEB, SAID JENNY……………………’Let’s stop paying our licence fee’ demanded trainer Jenny Pitman today in 2008, objecting to the BBC’s threat to cut their coverage of racing.

DECEMBER 17, 1934……………DERBY DEAD-HEAT…….Racing legends, Keith – (dad of Lester) Piggott, riding Crafty Captain, and subsequently-great trainer Fulke Walwyn, on Dusky Troubadour, rode a dead-heat in Derby’s £73 Ashbourne Hurdle.

DECEMBER 18, 1991………………..TRAGIC OUTCOME TO PHOTO………………….….Awaiting the outcome of a three-way photo finish at Lingfield today in 1991, owner of eventual 11/4 winner Super Sally, Leonard Seale collapsed and died of a heart attack without hearing the result.

DECEMBER 18, 1846……………….HAPPY TO RACE……..A race meeting announced today in 1846 in the China Mail was said to be the first held at Hong Kong’s Happy Valley.

DECEMBER 19, 1991……………….MAIRY CHRISTMAS…….Mary Reveley became the first woman to train 100 winners in a calendar year when her 20/1 shot Festival Fancy won at Kelso today in 1991. Her 20-time winner, former hurdler Mellottie, won the 1991 Cambridgeshire, and the Cesarewitch, with Old Red and Turnpole in 1995 and 1997 respectively. She died, aged 77, in 2017.

DECEMBER 19, 1989…………………ED UNDER ORDERS FOR TITLE………………..…Actor Edward Underdown, who died today in 1989, aged 81, appeared alongside Humphrey Bogart in 1953 movie Beat The Devil – and also dead-heated with John Hislop as 1938’s leading Flat amateur rider.

AND FINALLY……DECEMBER 14, 1966……………..WAS HE THE BEST EVER?…….The great Arkle won for the 27th and final time on December 14, 1966 – landing the 3m SGB Chase at Ascot, partnered by Pat Taaffe, carrying 12st 7lbs, and starting at 1/3. At one point, the slogan ‘Arkle for President’ appeared, daubed on a wall in Dublin.The horse became known to his fans simply as “Himself”, and reportedly received fan mail addressed to ‘Himself, Ireland’. Supporters declare him the greatest chaser of all – personally, I rate him second only to Golden Miller, who achieved what triple Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Arkle never did, by winning five Cheltenham Gold Cups, plus the Grand National, although Arkle did also win the 1964 Irish Grand National.

GRAHAM SHARPE


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