Onwards and upwards ...

Thank you Tim

Friday, 18 May 2018

"Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realise they were big things."

Robert Brault.


Setting off

It’s a bright, dry morning once again. All the staff are in and everything is ticking over smoothly. Tim has been doing an unbelievable good job whilst I have been off ill. I have been trying to come in every morning for a while and hopefully will soon be back in the swing of it. I must just thank everybody once again for their good wishes. I am still not 100% but we should get to the bottom of it soon.


Tim watching two-year-old fillies warm up, led by Farne Odyssey

The fallout from the FOBTs decision continues apace with the bookmaker’s obviously crying wolf, but they have had a long time to get their act together and have not done so. They have changed from being a shop that was part of the community, to being a shop that just couldn’t fail to make money as the machines are programmed not to lose. It is about time that bookmaker’s got back to being bookmakers, get more involved in the racing and greyhound industry, have their own opinion, own a few more horses and be prepared to take a bet. Times change and everybody must move with it, but you are either a bookmaker or an arcade. There is a big difference.


Cantering on Rubbing House polytrack

As usual the York Dante meeting has been very popular with the public, trainers and jockeys. A few bubbles will have been burst and one or two reputations enhanced. It is the Yorkshire Cup today, which is always a Melbourne Cup pointer, along with the Ebor in August, but to me the best race on the card today is the first race, the Listed two-year-old fillies’ race which should throw up some Ascot horses. There doesn’t seem to have been any trouble, or at least we haven’t heard of any at York, and there wasn’t any at Chester. Maybe it is that the Northern racegoers are more dedicated to the sport than the Ascot and Goodwood ones. I shouldn’t be saying this really as there will now be an enormous punch up there today.

Walking back after exercise

Phil On Friday


With the cricket season in full swing we’re again having to get used to those over-simplified nicknames. Just add a Y to a cricketer’s real name and in many cases you’ve got it – Straussy, Rooty, Cooky, Broady and so on. I feel for Bess of Somerset and more especially for Bell of Warwickshire. Raine of Leicestershire might be appropriate in most English summers.

‘Whispering Death’ was Michael Holding’s more meaningful label and of course there are hundreds of other examples, including Ricky Ponting’s ‘Punter’ which says a lot about the former Aussie captain.

Racing has more than its fair share of nicknames. The Guvnor himself was known as ‘Terror Tompkins’ in his fast bowling days for the Newmarket Trainers Cricket XI. It was coined by the late Julian Wilson, himself known as ‘Whizz’.

Among the most famous racing nicknames are, or have been, ‘The Choir Boy’ for Walter Swinburn, ‘The Long Fellow’ Lester Piggott, ‘The Head Waiter’ Harry Wragg -  well known for driving his mounts into the action very late and usually getting up on the line - ‘The Kid’ Steve Cauthen, ‘The Duke’ David Nicholson, and many, many more.  ‘Boots’ Madden was a top Irish jockey; his first son is known as ‘Slippers’ and his youngest ‘Socks’. What next?

Not so well known perhaps are ‘Hellfire Jack’ Trigg who rode 843 winners, another jockey ’Slinky’ Webb who was obsessed with his elegant feet and footwear, Miriam McTague who lost 84 pounds to get down to seven stone for her first ride in public and was thereafter known as ‘Mini’, and top Chinese jockey Marshall who had extraordinarily large ears which, it was said, he made good use of to signal to paddock watchers whether his mount was ‘off’.  He was known as ‘Peanut’, possibly a comment on his head size which made his ears look so disproportionate.

On a family note, my grandfather was always known as ‘The Old Gent’, and my unfortunate Uncle Arthur was ‘Pizzey’, based quite innocently on his compulsion to buy so-called inside information from racecourse tipster Mark Pizzey.

As for me it was ‘Birse’. That originated when I was in the third form at school. Father and I decided one evening that a horse called Birso Boy was a good thing at Haydock next day and I was rash enough to tip it widely. Plenty of kids went hungry as a result – all their dinner money was on Birso Boy! It won at 5-1 and I was Birse ever after. I’m rather proud of that.