28 Jan 2022



When does a tidy birthday present become something much bigger?

When it’s a €20 voucher for a bet in the bookies, and that having being struck, the bet has a return many multiples of the stake.

I slipped past a significant milestone on Friday last. In the exalted company, I should say, sharing with the likes of Shirley Bassey, David Silva, Stephen Hawking, David Bowie - who sadly passed away in the early hours of Monday morning - Kim Yong-un, and Bobby Krieger, who, it says on the magic machine, is a guitarist with The Doors.

Bassey and Hawking are older than me, and the late Bowie’s collaboration with Bing Crosby is the second-best Christmas number. The best? Oh Holy Night, but it must be sung by Kiri Te Kanawa.

I’ve heard of The Doors, but couldn’t name any of their numbers if it was to save my life.

It was also on January 8 that Elvis Presley first made his presence felt; but the man known to some as the King wasn’t around to celebrate last Friday. Neither was the actor, William Hartnell, or Peter Cazalet, the one-time horse trainer to the Queen of England and before that, her mother.

Elvis is good to listen to when singing Suspicious Minds, and Cazalet’s best horse was also his unluckiest. Devon Loch was being cheered home a winner in the 1956 Aintree Grand National, but inexplicably slipped up in the shadow of the finishing line. Dick Francis, later to become a prolific writer of novels, was on board.

I could have bet odds-on that a bookie’s gift voucher would be included when it came time to open envelopes. Scratch cards, as well. Anything bulkier and it’s for certain there’d be a bottle of Scotch wrapped up. I don’t have the same taste nowadays for Teachers, but there are those who know it would nearly always be reached for way back when there was a hip flask to be filled on the way to a National League match. To all and sundry, a big thanks.

The gift voucher was for a Score, enough for a one euro Lucky 15 and a Fiver Placepot. Saturday’s best betting race was the Welsh Grand National, down for decision at Chepstow. Kerry Lee’s a trainer who’s being making a name for herself since taking over from her dad, and this is a race in which her gender’s handlers boast a good record, Jenny Pitman, Rebecca Curtis and Venetia Williams among those who figure among the winners.

Lee’s Mountainous it is, to go along with Millanisi Boy and two at the Lingfield all-weather meeting, Perfect Alchemy and Jamie Spencer’s mount in the last.

Millanisi Boy was first to click. Then came Mountainous, driven through the Chepstow mud by the brilliant Jamie Moore to win quite comfortably. Next up was Perfect Alchemy. Oisin Murphy’s mount ran well, but not well enough; she finished second, beaten by Twin Point, who I might have nailed had I been into piseogs. The voucher had been given to me by a girl who was accompanied by another on the day she entered this world.

Spencer was at his strongest getting Wavelet home in a three-horse photo. Three up, and time to get the calculator out.

Not a life-changing return by any means, but enough to throw a Tenner here and a ‘nifty’ there – and change my mind about betting being a mug’s game.

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