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19th June 2024 5:22 pm

“A difference of opinion is what makes horse racing and missionaries."

Good Moaning all – A sad catch-up

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Just in: CJM… Bunter… Ken… Thank you. They join: William S – MEJi – Peter N – Nigel B – Ken C – Mark S – James D – William M – Fiona M – Julian A – Jonathan H – Mrs V.M – Pete BN – Gavin C – Thom S – Sarah C – Mark S – Sam H – James R

My new laptop arrives, just in time to miss the tips for the last day of Glorious. Given that I managed to clear my Fitzdares account debt on Saturday, I fear you might think I have let you down. I should tell you that the other six betting accounts remain firmly in the red, and in reality, you should be grateful. Lest you think I do nothing but moan and rant, the last two weeks have been bloody good in the main, with one huge exception.

Since we last spoke, I have had a series of jolly lunches and dinners. At one, I drew Lady Judy Martin – three hours of sheer delight. Quite apart from remaining one of the most connected octogenarians in the music business, she has been racing since Noah and loves cricket. Wonderful company. A few days later, at The Boisdale Life Editor’s Awards, Ranald Macdonald plonked me between two stunners, one of whom is a very clever PR and the other the former Bond girl Carole Ashby. She used to be engaged to Jeremy Lloyd, a script-writing hero of mine. He had ‘Allo ‘Allo and Are you being served? on his credits and had married Joanna Lumley for three nano-seconds. He worked with the Beatles and had been the legendary missing dinner guest at Sharon Tate’s house the night the Manson crazies slaughtered the party. You can’t write Life scripts more interesting than that. Anyway, I left the Lunch totally in love with my Bond girl – and her mate Jules – and Ranald  – and Sipsmiths and, rather strangely, The Elizabeth Line, which was chilled, clean, efficient, fast and excellent. Next, a pre-theatre dinner in La Cucina in St Clements, Oxford. The food was exemplary. Delicious Pizzas and a host of other decent dishes, including a shared Shoulder of Lamb, are all great examples of what to do with a wood-fired oven. The Globe Theatre’s touring production of Julius Caesar was, by comparison, unpalatable. Gender swapping and roots patois are no longer clever or even fashionable – but it does require the actors to understand the basics of Iambic Pentameter and not screech their passion.

Then Goodwood. Let’s get the worst of it out of the way. The “Free” internet service was lamentable. I suspect they are also blocking some online betting companies. I’m not sure which is worse, but if the latter is true, then it is an intolerable form of commercial censorship. I could go racing in Venezuela and probably get a better signal if I want that.

I should also mention the sandwiches. Four quarters of four different sandwiches crammed together and devoid of crust. The four quarters were: Coronation Chicken made to a recipe that demanded the chicken be in huge gristly lumps, rather than sliced, and the curry powder to be added to rather than mixed with the Mayonnaise. Then Ham and Cheese of such dryness that it would kill a man crossing Brighton Beach unless he drank a Litre of water every five paces. There was something pink that might have been Salmon – and then there was The Egg and Cress. Why would anyone make an Egg and Cress sandwich with hard-boiled eggs that tasted slightly of fish and visibly included the black bits from being badly boiled, and then sit on it? No, wait – there’s more. This “Sandwich Selection” was £8.50!

OK.  Onto the better bits. We did eat well in a box, and we ate splendidly elsewhere. Should you find yourself in Goodwood or nearby, this would be my Top 4 List

  1. The White Horse, Sutton Pulborough. Delicious Food – Outstanding chef
  2. The Ancor Bleu, Bosham, Can’t beat the views, great food, reasonably priced
  3. The Crab and Lobster, Sidlesham, Super service, excellent food, not cheap
  4. The Crown and Anchor, Dell Quay. Proper pub, service a bit slow, but the views and fab and the food better than good.

On Tuesday 26th July and Day 1, we stayed at the adequate Chichester Park Hotel, the hostel of choice for ITV Racing. I opened my week’s betting account with Forest Falcon at 14/1 with Frankie and Mark Johnston. As all amateur punters know, this is the worst thing that can happen for the first race on the first of five long days. The confidence was sky-high; the stakes rose and remained high until I realised three days later, that Luck had left the building just before Race 2. For some extraordinary reason, I convinced myself that Enemy was fantastic value at 33/1 for four places. The dog came eighth, Kyprios won, Stradivarius was third, and Common Sense was nowhere to be found. I mentioned that I was after a Growler, and a chum guffawed, thinking me a lewd fellow. He now knows that a Growler was a 4-wheeled, single-horse cab, different from The Clarence and the Hansom and was the Hackney of choice at Railway Stations because its large roof could take one’s cabin trunks. Nanny always called them as such and would often say, that one should get one at the station. Wednesday saw four favourites, two of them odds-on, and the Slough of Despond grew wider. While it was a joy to see Baaeed stretch away, my backing of Oscula didn’t cut it financially. Thursday saw some sheepish knee-taking. Huzzah. Let’s shut all stables down that don’t employ at least 50% BAME staff. Oh, hang on, they do. The answer, of course, is we must do away with the wrong sort of owners, who employ the wrong sort of trainers.

On or around the fourth bottle of The Pale, this year’s Rose de choix, there was some criticism of my jacket, which was described as a gardening jacket. This came from a man in a blue-striped affair, but he might have been in a different conversation altogether as the hours and days were becoming blurred.  We had lunch with The Good and The Great on Friday in a posh box. Sadly the Wifi is better in the box, resulting in Fitzdares, Bat365 and Betfair immediately sending me invitations to become even more loyal. Great racing – again. More losses – again. But every day, I am reminded about how lucky one is to have good friends and to share a day of fun, laughter, and good companionship supplemented by Rose wine and very expensive racecourse food. I ended the day with dinner at The Park House Hotel, where I bump into more chums, with whom I have my first Espresso Martinis. This might be a sexy drink at 9:00 pm, but it is a destroyer of sleep at 1:00 am. Finally, the winds of fortune changed on Saturday. There was some confusion about the pronunciation of George Baker’s Cemhaan. It transpires that the “Cem” in the first part of the name is pronounced Kem not Seem; and that the Haan is pronounced as Harn rather than Hen. Naturally, we were delighted to sort this out before the race, as shouting for Hollie to kick on might have been seen in a very poor light. Otherwise, I got Trawlerman, Sea La Rosa, and I’m a Gambler.

On the way home, we discovered that our friend, eminent racehorse owner, city columnist, intelligent fund manager, and supporter of the young, the great John Carrington, had been taken to hospital. On Sunday, he was no longer with us. I cannot adequately begin to tell you what a good man he was. One day I’ll tell you some tales, but not now.

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