Wednesday, August 02, 2017

The garbage and the flowers

Interesting comments after last night's chapter by David Winter, Glenn Pennington, Craig McKenna and David Wilkinson.  Thanks to all for the feedback.  I would recommend anyone reading the comments, but particularly racecourse managers.  (And I should mention that Yarmouth's extremely competent and conscientious clerk of the course Richard Aldous called me at 9.30 last night, and has been very and typically helpful).  Regarding yesterday's events, it has been interesting that Emma's blog has prompted three other trainers to volunteer that they have had similar unpleasant telephonic experiences recently, two of them this week.  (And it's still only Wednesday).  One common denominator between the three is that the integrity of all three is beyond dispute.

Another update to last night's blog is that I have been in touch with the BHA on the subject today.  Apparently this matter is ongoing, the calls are believed all to come from the same person, and the Metropolitan Police are apparently close to a breakthrough.  The BHA apparently cannot comment any further primarily because the police do not release, even to interested parties, unnecessary details of ongoing investigations.  It's hard to work out why this is taking so long.  (It seems hard to believe that one can actually guarantee anonymity just by pressing the anonymity button on one's telephone, that it genuinely isn't possible for the police to liaise with the phone companies and establish what withheld number called my phone twice around 2.28 pm yesterday.  If they really cannot do this in seconds, then there is no point in watching things like 'Spooks' or the Jason Bourne movies.)

I would hope that this matter is being taken seriously by the police because these calls are effectively death-threats, which can't be legal.  I suppose the miscreant could argue that he was not suggesting a knife in the kidneys when he told me to watch my back, but was merely giving friendly general advice, although the fact that he had called me a paedophile in the previous sentence might make it hard for him to argue that he was speaking in anything other than a hostile manner.  Even if he could pass that one off, it would be hard for him to put an anodyne spin on the call in which he threatened to cut a trainer's throat.  (Bizarrely, that trainer had just trained a winner!).

I did mention yesterday that, while this caller's contributions are not acceptable, we should not be too quick to censure on-course spectators who feel free to barrack (providing of course that they don't go down racist, sexist, etc. lines).  Soccer fans, of course, can and sometimes do go way beyond what is acceptable, but similarly they can be particularly witty.  Over the past year or so I have been enjoying the fact that, apparently, since Hull (somewhat surprisingly) became European City of Culture, the Hull City fans have adopted the practice at home games of taunting visiting supporters with the chant, "You're only here for the culture".  Excellent.  (By the way, does Hull actually exist?  Is it not correctly Kingston-upon-Hull?).

Fortuitously, at bedtime last night I chanced upon an even better example of soccer supporters' wit.  Earlier this year I read and greatly enjoyed Michael Channon jr's superb book, 'How's your dad?'.  While doing so, the thought came to me that I really should have read Mick Quinn's autobiography, 'Who ate all the pies?'.  It would be overstating things to say that Mick and I are close friends, but he is one of the Newmarket trainers with whom I get on best and one of those whom I most like, and I would regard us as being more than mere acquaintances.  The thought came to me that, were I to make the effort to write a book, I would hope that some of my friends would take the trouble to read it.

Anyway, I am reading it now, and enjoying it very much.  The human and sporting anecdotes are very entertaining.  During the chapter which I read in bed last night before turning off the light, I came across this gem from Mick's days with Oldham.  "I arrived at the club in January 1984, at the same time as goalie Andy Goram, who went on to play for Scotland.  Andy, who had a broad Lancashire accent and was known as the Bury Werewolf, also played cricket for Scotland.  Later he joined Glasgow Rangers and was diagnosed with mild schizophrenia; away fans used to sing, 'Two Andy Gorams, there's only two Andy Gorams.'"  Very good indeed - a bit naughty, for sure, but that level of wit would have done Oscar Wilde proud.  Let's hope that Roy can do us proud at Epsom tomorrow night.  He generally does.  And I would imagine that he will be very well ridden by the excellent Nicola Currie, whose 7lb claim is a gift and who has already ridden two winners this week (on Dandy Flame at Windsor on Monday night for her boss Richard Hughes and on Born To Please for Mark Usher at Sandown tonight).


David Wilkinson said...

Great photos from the gallops John I love being on Newmarket Heath as much as the actual racing.Sitting on that wooden stand on the Al Bahathri gallop with the sun shining is my idea of heaven.

neil kearns said...

been busy blogging on on galway and missed your last two chapters have to say firstly my comments on the ****** on the phone are unprintable not all horses you back will win if you can't accept that never bet but the number of imponderables are so immense (let alone the ponderables) that getting any winner should be strongly celebrated . Unfortunately it seems to have become far too acceptable to make criticism of others hiding behind pseudonyms on the web if it starts to spill over to telephones one wonders where it will end

As to racecourses and owners/trainers treatment frankly in the UK it is generally awful to poor (a couple of exceptions) too many tracks fail to provide a facility where one can even see the track (preferring to sell these as corporate boxes) and if you cant do that for the people paying for the whole show then anything after that can be no surprise . It really needs sorting best view in the house should always go to connections .

In terms of quality of spread Newmarket takes some beating , though Ludlow did brilliant homemade cakes back in the day - no voucher required - best I have experienced Malmo (I know you were there John) where fish and chips appeared for "our British visitors"

totally agree about the Mickey Quinn biog well worth a read and a smile or tow ,Andy Goram who was one of the hardest hitters of a cricket ball I have ever had the misfortune to have to stop , he also took one of the best catches I have ever been out to - keeping goal he would probably have tipped it round the post !!

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