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Betting gods horse racing guru tattoo

We all have our favourite equines. Of course, as a professional punter, such trivia is supposed to be beneath me but it is not. Off hand, I would say I admire Duke of Marmalade for his professional no-nonsense uncomplicated attitude, Darjina because she is beautiful and Zarkava for the same reason. But none of them can actually speak to me so I have no idea what goes through their heads. If I were to listen to an interview with Duke of Marmalade, what would he say?

An unkind observer may be tempted to suggest Duke of Marmalade or Darjina could give a better interview than Wayne Rooney. But no, with footballers we know how they are feeling. Take Joe Cole last night. Battered and cut from an awful tackle from some Bolshevik beast, stitched and with a head zigzagged with blood, back on the bench, he was talking, joshing, being, well, Joe Cole.

Whereas horses can only shake their heads, gulp water and kick innocent bystanders who get in their flight path. You even have to hold their head in place to get a reasonable photograph. Trainers, owners and jockeys sometimes try to attribute human characteristics to a horse but if he is defecating as they speak, it does dilute such comments to a degree. Somehow, even a half-decent game of football is not over when the final whistle has gone.

There is the dissection, the goals in slow motion and they do have a quality that a horserace, once we know the result, cannot match. Maybe it is something we should be aware of when we try to promote our sport. Even the heady rush of gambling, which can be very short-lived if your horse is plainly going nowhere from some way out, fails to ignite the passion in the same way that other sports can. Perhaps it is because it is over so quickly. And we all know the downfall of activities that are over quickly.

Somehow, the anticipation is always better than the act. Or is that me again? As if the big sprint is not hard enough to start with, we are faced with a situation that suggests if you are not drawn low you are unlikely to win. This is a preamble leading to the chances of Confuchias, the horse, who has been in many a notebook after such a promising run in the Great St Wilfred from a draw that gave him little or no chance.

Backed earlier this week, as those that had not seen the merits of that run began to cotton on to it, and then handed by fate what seemed at the time a good draw, he touched favouritism before sliding after events yesterday. A formerly good horse with Group pretensions, he likes this ground and everything looked in place for a big run in such a minefield — or rice field — of a race.

All that changed a little after 4. However, Confucius the man may have the last laugh. It is also possible that I am acting like a fifth member of the Monty Python team, who so cleverly alluded to the pitfalls and blind stupidity of taking everything as an omen in The Life of Brian. The lesson, according to a Confucius sage, is that the great man was demonstrating the superior value human beings have over property. But if, as reported, he paid such scant heed for the poor unfortunate beasts then, perhaps now, some 2, years later, they are about to get their own back.

FRIDAY: They are squelching through heavy ground at Ayr, where frankly we ought to have our heads tested for even contemplating having a bet. I had mine tested some time ago and the results came back negative. Newmarket stage an all two-year-old card, meaning there will be messages and counter-messages aplenty.

Maybe Royal Vintage; can see Multidimensional but would not back him and Palavinci will be all the rage after a promising second to the very useful Delegator who, for my money, won with a ton in hand. But take heart, Girl of Pangaea should win the 8.

And if all else fails I have a message for Earned Income in the trotting race at 9. Incredibly, this Flat season is drawing to a swift conclusion. And after such a promising start — what, only three months ago, or so it seems — when we all backed Twice Over in the Craven and held vouchers for him for the 2, Guineas, somehow it has dribbled away, closely followed by our bank balances. And we read in the paper today that Denman is likely to miss the Hennessy, has lost weight and may be suffering from an irregular heart beat.

This is devastating news for his connections and for all jump fans. Such glum news is a reminder of the line of tissue that separates joy from misery in this game. Let us hope not. Now all we have to do is sort out this infernal credit crunch, stop pouring money down the bottomless pits that are Iraq and Afghanistan, get Paris Hilton off the front pages and boycott Big Brother and we might actually be on the road to recovery.

I like Ray but why will he insist on calling all female horses mares? He must know that a female horse is a filly and only becomes a mare when she reaches the age of five. I guess it is some sort of Irishism — akin to the statement made by all Irish trainers or jockeys that their horse won IN Ascot rather than AT. Whilst I am about it my quibble with the current trend to savage the English language does not stop there. Why do we call children kids — surely a kid is something spawned by a goat — why cops for police — cops pound the New York streets — why totally useless expressions that mean nothing like chrimbo for Christmas, why taters for potatoes.

Have we become incapable of referring to anything correctly? This prompted me to consider how other sports tend to cope with misquotes and inevitably led to some hilarious examples. In comparison, memorial quotes do not tend to surface from horseracing as such, but there is a clutch of amusing statements from gamblers. So in the spirit of that compilation programme of bloopers hosted by Dennis Norden — herewith the first batch….

That was a true but incomplete answer. Because football commentators tend to be ex-footballers, they are capable of making the biggest howlers of all. In his excitement, Murray Walker could be relied upon to supply a host of gaffs that in some cases surpassed the events he covered. A few gems are below…. No quotes on boxing would be complete without a snapshot sample from the Greatest, Muhammad Ali. You ugly bear! You call yourself a world champion?

I am too smart. I am too pretty. I should be a postage stamp. Later, in a more reflective mood, Ali retracts his personal statements that cut Joe Frazier deeply. I apologise for that. It was all meant to promote the fight. Prospects of winning anything at the races today seem about as likely as a rebate from the taxman landing on my doormat.

And each morning we wake to more greyness, more rain, more gloom, another portent that the end of the world is nigh. Perhaps it is the sheer despondency of life at present that makes the thought of betting so unattractive. After all, a semblance of optimism is required to have a bet.

You have to believe that something good is heading your way in order to ignite the belief you might win. But when waking to a scene from the film The Day After Tomorrow each morning, harbouring any ideas other than those of a negative variety is tough. Moreover, I find it incredulous that we have a perfectly good all-weather track at Lingfield and that someone has decided to split the card between racing on Polytrack and turf today.

More confusion of the Goingstick variety I spoke of last week where hard is registered as 1 and heavy Surely anyone with a spare grey cell would have decided for the sake of simplicity, it should be the other way round. So today we are faced with the first three races being run on turf — if they are run at all considering the surface is already heavy — or Goingstick1 and why is Goingstick spelt thus? Who dreamed this up?

Consider then the gauntlet prospective punters have to run should they decide to attempt a bet there today. In the first race, run over turf, Goingstick 1, the favourite, Definightly, is drawn two. Using all known information at our disposal, this is a bad draw, but if, as used to happen once upon a time when there was no such thing as Sunday racing and Godolphin won all the major races, the runners decide to race down the far side, it could conceivably be a good draw.

Just leave the bloody thing — Roger Charlton will probably decide the horse has not eaten up and withdraw it in any case just to save us all wasting our time! A mark of 74 for My Sweet Georgia looks reasonable in the nursery considering she finished second to the highly promising Gallagher. But she is a Royal Applause on soft ground and is another who, on the face of it, from a draw of five, has a lot of running to do. They have been banging on about Sericus for some time but on all known evidence, he looks average at best.

But if he is any good, being by Verglass, this easy ground will play to his strengths — that is if he has any. Then we come to the 4. However, she behaved like a right madam next time, looks as if she wants cut in the ground and as if she is an out and out galloper. Presented with a sharp track like Lingfield, on a fast surface and from a draw of ten — yeah she could win — but would you want to risk it and pay to find out?

Then there is Collateral Damage at Beverley who likes soft ground just as well , but has two ways of running. And apparently turnover is down, bookmakers cannot pay their bills, Betfair are struggling to sustain betting levels and spectators are tending to spend their leisure time elsewhere.

The Haydock Sprint washed out along with the Leopardstown card that was to have included the Champion Stakes and the Coolmore Fusaichi Pegasus Stakes — three Group 1 races sunk in the mud. Plans are afoot to stage the Leopardstown card on Sunday and to run the Haydock Sprint at Doncaster next week, but neither is guaranteed.

Doncaster has to survive a weather forecast that is far from favourable for the sprint to take place. Thinking back to the Royal Ascot card held at York, or the Ebor meeting held at Newmarket, it has to be said they were not the same — something was missing. Races are rather like geriatric passengers on ocean liners; they fail to travel well.

But we are making the best of a bad situation and under pressure from bookmakers bleating on about the Levy and the racing authorities clamouring to prove they are adaptable to everything the elements can throw their way, some sort of re-scheduling looks like taking place. By all accounts Haydock did all it could to ensure racing took place. What it could not do was to produce a cloud-busting machine that would disperse the hovering watery menace that washed its fixture away.

And for reasons that are murky, they were unable to cancel a fixture overnight even though everyone within a hundred miles of the venue knew racing was impossible. That is what we have come to in this watch-your-back, more-than-my-job-is-worth rain-soaked Great Britain of Pity really; but there is always Big Brother and the X Factor so that is all right then!

Haydock is not a track I have ever visited, so I cannot claim to know much about it except that there are trees in the paddock. But it is noticeable that when watching coverage from there the crowd seems noisy. Normally they are at their most vocal before and during the first race. A kind of football roar goes up as the horses start and you can just imagine the pints being slugged down as they set off.

Should any of the runners fail to start, or break loose, the crowd is in its element, booing and cheering with equal venom as horse and rider pass the post in embarrassed isolation. Obviously, this behaviour is drink-fuelled and I could not help but wonder where these so-called racing fans would be on a blank Saturday. Would they be raising tattooed arms and hamburger-sized fists to betting office staff in Haydock High Street; urinating in waste bins in shopping centres, or mooning from the back of Ford Escorts on motorways as they drive from service station to service station before finding a publican too greedy or frightened to turn them away?

Kempton did of course stage a good meeting. Even to those whose idea of studying form is to peruse the Daily Mirror or the Sun, there were two obvious things they could get stuck in to on the card. Premio Loco, selected by Pricewise, and Ethaara and both, although poor value for those of us who purported to know better, started at cramped odds but obliged.

And a winner never starts at poor odds, right? They gulped down the ridiculously expensive drinks and by the time of the two-mile event, those who fail to recognise the difference between a horse and a zebra were cheering home the leader as if he had won on the first circuit. By the time of their next swig they realised there was more to a two-mile race than six furlongs and it was a case of all change in the finishing order as they passed the post on the occasion that counted.

All this is largely prompted by the advert placed by Chateau Racing that appeared in the Racing Post today. Personally, yes, I am fed-up with both those descriptions of life in general in this country at present. At a time when we are promoting this country in advance of the Olympics, feeling smug about the fix America appears to be in, and poking fun at our cousins on the continent, I wonder what they make of us.

While our version of Rome burns; while the Titanic that used to be GREAT Britain slips beneath the waves, we continue to believe we are somehow superior. Fine, but has any one checked how the pound is faring against the euro and the dollar recently? Keep drinking that American and Belgian lager; that French and Spanish wine lads, keep shouting for the wrong horse…. You are given carte blanche to snort and rant about matters that vex. Conscious that most of us only have such an opportunity when incoherent after a flagon of ale in the local, or when the other half is in the kitchen and not listening, I have to be aware of the need to rein myself in.

Aware of the direction into which I am lurching, I have concentrated my efforts recently on being sensible. Perfectly sane articles about betting and how best to harness individual areas of competence have replaced flippancy and clever dick sarcasm. Reading some of the comments, most of them relevant and I hope helpful, I have to say I fail to recognise the writer. Yes, it is me; but like most people who perform a role — in this case one of punter — I just do it rather than subject it to analysis.

You know what I am saying: it is rather like driving a car, being a magician or pleasing a woman. You know the theory but find it impossible to explain the no-how to someone else. Of course, as far as the latter category is concerned we are talking about the impossible so it is not quantifiable. All this is a preamble to announcing I am reverting to type. I realise this is bad news for those of you who thought I might have been replaced, incarcerated or run over by any number of aggrieved members from the ranks of racing.

Those having some difficulty in adjusting to my Hyde as opposed to the philanthropic Dr Jekyll, may care to look away now. My last missive that deviated from the notion that I was properly hinged attacked Goingstick readings as absurdly constructed and the equal irrationality of the colour coding of horses that move in and out of the betting. Nothing too controversial there I would have thought.

But they have forced me out of temporary retirement, reopening the wound of a subject earlier tackled: the four blank Sundays in the fixture list. Oh great joy and bliss; those four renegade Sundays are no more! They are to be filled — by trotting racing — possibly held at Wolverhampton. Apparently, there are a number of curry houses in Wolverhampton so the trots is not a new concept to the city.

Trotting though is something all together different. On the contrary, their antics, harnessed as they are, not to break out of a trot and disqualified if they do, are likely to take from the poor and give to the rich.

So possibly this silly pastime should take place down the road from Wolverhampton at the home of Robin Hood — namely Nottingham. Those tempted to bet should pay special attention to a configuration of names containing any combination of B.

The first cart is likely to have an unfair advantage, the second means there will presumably be no betting, and the last is liable to catch fire if the sun makes an appearance. The possibilities of the four rogue days containing a programme of trotting will not alter my social arrangements for the year. The prospect of four blank days of racing makes a framework for my social calendar.

At the point of writing, there are four days when I can plan to go to Sunday lunch with my partner, that is if she is still my partner, after what is sure to be a rocky few winter months when the ringing of the phone will dictate my life. No matter how desperate the content of racing, how confident you are that there is nothing to be concerned with, have you noticed how some bastard, with nothing else to do with his sad little life, will phone and tell you he has one?

Actually, yes, I can. Let me put it this way. If I allow my day to revolve round this bloody certainty that originates from the shopkeeper in Newmarket High Street and it loses, can we agree to all or any of the following? Can I have your car? Do I have your permission to burn your house down, preferably with you in it?

Can I share a shower with your missus and rub her all over with shower creme? I thought not. Well, okay I know I have already done the last one but it would not do any harm to repeat it, particularly if she was sober this time. But back to the four blank days. What were the authorities thinking?

Four blank days of horseracing in one year! Add that to Good Friday, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and, shock horror, there are seven days during when there is no horseracing. So apart from trotting, fruit machines and virtual racing, what about the human rights of compulsive gamblers and what can they bet on? Herewith a few suggestions if you feel affected: On Christmas Eve, try driving to your local town and drawing up a spread on how long it takes you to park in the multi-storey.

The spread should start at ten minutes and run right through to not at all, to run out of petrol, frozen in vehicle for entire Christmas period with only a new shirt for Uncle Jim, some socks for Uncle Martin, a jumper for Janice and a six-pack of Stella Artois. Christmas Day: Who, if any one, will be drunk before lunch is served; who is the first to fall asleep after lunch; how many times the Queen has to refer to her cue-card on which her speech is written, and whether Steve McQueen will make it on that infernal motorbike.

Good Friday: Whether the special offer at Homebase will be on barbeques or sun-loungers; neither of which, on the evidence of the last two years, will be in much demand. As for the four days of non-proposed racing, I suggest that the trotting, if it goes ahead, can do so without the need to buy the Racing Post. I only hope the ground staff can get rid of the ruts made by the wheels of those carriages before the resumption of proper racing.

Not deliberately, but I have been drawn to the clips I have seen. The problem for me is I can see my character in the cast. Yesterday, in desperation, I penned a piece about why certain races should be boycotted and I find myself in the same situation today. And bit by insidious bit I am beginning to resent those making up the spectators in the arena.

By that I mean the presenters on the racing channels who try to pretend that each day is bulging with betting opportunities and that they are dipping in and out of the exchanges at every opportunity in between races. Whereas we know this is piffle because if they have any sense which they must have to be in such jobs they are pressing buttons, preparing their next part of the script and keeping their fake tans topped up before smiling to camera.

Such presenters, on satellite and terrestrial channels, bookmakers, the Tote and anyone making a living out of this racing game, want us — the mugs — to bet. We are an integral part of keeping the show on the road. A pension is only a word to a professional punter. He is his pension and unless he can back winners, his fund is nil — mafish as our friends in the desert would say. So I want to bet.

Yes, it is nonsense. Take Pontefract. No thanks! Ascot Lime will be short in the 4. The race is weak and you would think he would oblige. He is a good-looking son of Pivotal who had a bad start to his racing career when some wild beast from the jungle ran across him at the start.

He is getting his act together but his solitary win was from a mark of 77 and now he races from I ask you, how has this happened? How can a horse that has one victory to his name, and then by the narrow margin of a head, be rated twelve pounds higher two runs later without winning?

So it looks like another blank day. Elsewhere, after a scare, we are told Denman is now all right. I think it was Martin Pipe who once said there is no such thing as a bit of a leg; saying a horse has a bit of a leg is like saying a woman is a little bit pregnant.

Well said Martin! I wish Denman and all connected nothing but good fortune; but fear that we have not heard the last of this saga. Sick one day — well the next. If I am all Fraser and gloom, at least events in the wider world do present a lighter side. A pig in Australia is apparently preventing its owner, a woman, from leaving her house to use the outside toilet, or dunny. The pig is by all accounts big as far as pigs go — an undesirable shape to be in I would have thought if you are a pig — and his sheer bulk and bad temper has made this woman a prisoner in her own house.

Quite what she is doing without the services of a toilet is unclear. Drinking very little and crossing her legs a lot one would imagine. Oh and the pig is called Bruce. Now I knew that everyone in Australia is called either John or Bruce, unless of course they are female in which case their name is Sheila, but calling a pig Bruce does lack some imagination in a nation full of men all answering to the same name. Tricky times for the Labour Party at present.

If they wish to replace Gordon Brown, they do have a name problem to overcome with regard to his successor. So those wishing to replace Gordon Brown have a limited choice. Unless they can come across a Bruce, this only leaves Hazel Blears, who sounds more and more like a stateswoman each time we see her.

Perhaps aware of this, the powers-that-be only allotted her three minutes speaking time at Conference but she made it count. Hazel Blears it is then! Unless that is J K Rowling can stump up another million quid for the Party, in which case perhaps that will be enough to buy it lock, stock and barrel and she and Harry Potter can run the show. Lindsay Lohan has come out of her pink closet and broken a thousand male hearts with the announcement she has a female lover in the shape of Samantha Ronson.

The last thing I want is a broken heart as well as an empty wallet. Well, how was it for you? Did you lay Infallible reckoning a three-year-old filly had it to do against colts? Or Henrythenavigator because you felt lucky, Yeats because two miles was a minimum and Lush Lashes because the ground had turned against her? But when it comes down to it, it is what you actually do: whether or not you press that button, pick up the phone or write out the slip that counts.

There is a fine line between winning and losing. If you back every horse you fancy, you will lose. If you lay every favourite that you can make half a case against, the same applies. Somehow, you have to invoke a selective system.

And very often it is not a system at all but more an almost random slice of fortune, sprinkled with a sliver of logic or even a sixth sense. What it boils down to is — some transactions are made and others are not. Thereby is the difference between winning and losing. It is as simple as that.

As it turned out, I hit the ground running with Paco Boy and followed up with Gravitation. Two good-priced winners from which only a congenital idiot, a compulsive or someone who had given his Ladbroke details to a sadist could then turn into a losing week. I mention this, not to crow about my good fortune but to illustrate the point.

Without the winning bet on Paco Boy which followed a losing one on Monte Alto , I may not have gone down the same road with Gravitation. And without such a safety net I may not have backed Visit. There were some losers along the way: Muthabara and Prime Defender on Saturday to name but two, but by then I was comfortably in front, or Comfortably Numb depending on your perception and whether you are a Pink Floyd fan.

So what is the difference between a horse we fancy but let run and the one we actually back? Some bets are obvious but they probably only account for fifteen or twenty bets a season at best. Would we be better just concentrating on those, or are we right to back horses we think might win or are good value? To be fair, spreading the number of bets we strike does give us a better chance of winning in the long run — or so you would think — but I am coming to the conclusion that there are bets where the odds are stacked in our favour and bets where they are against or only about right at best.

This may sound obvious but it is worth dwelling on. The truth is, however confident we are before the race, afterwards, it is blindingly obvious what we should or should not have done. I have struck some bets in my time on horses that I was convinced would win only to see them blend into the mountainous backdrop that is Ayr or the rolling turf of Newmarket.

Then, after it is all over, something has come to mind. Wrong trip — never won left-handed, wins in the summer months — badly drawn idiot! You need to be drawn low on the round course at Thirsk not Ripon. Can I? When it all comes together, we are so clever. But this game only teases us into thinking we have cracked its code. No sooner do we think we are on top than we find ourselves right back where we belong! Normally we feel our way through the murk of March and April as form lines gradually slot into place, and by the time of the Guineas Meeting have a fair idea where we stand.

Not so this time round. Aided by one or two clues from the winter all-weather fixtures and from the excellent Dubai Carnival, then by the first two Classics, most years one can bumble along backing the odd winner in amongst all the fat losers until mid-summer when, for those who have persevered with the formbook, all the hard work starts to pay dividends.

So what has gone wrong this year? Well a couple of things: firstly, a bug has plagued half of Lambourn and Newmarket. Horses appear fine in their work but those affected return from the races lifeless and listless having failed to run up to form. Very few yards have escaped this malaise yet not one, with the exception of Jeremy Noseda, has admitted to being a victim. Sensibly, he shut up shop and now looks to be on the way back.

The rest of those struggling through this particularly unpleasant equine strain seem to be in some sort of denial. Not one trainer seems to be prepared to admit there is a problem. What they tell their owners is their own business but it does not take a detective to work out something is wrong.

Just look at the results. Even yards struggling through have patchy form. It is no coincidence that those yards that have enjoyed the most success this season have all been isolated. Richard Hannon and Andrew Balding are two that spring to mind.

Neither yard is housed in a main training centre. The only other horses their strings see are either pulling carts or delivering milk. The problem may not go away with the disappearance of this bug because the danger is that when the big yards return to normal, the formbook is likely to be about as much use as Gordon Brown at a fashion convention — or indeed any convention at all! All one can do at present is stick to horses with solid recent form and avoid those from yards whose last winner was ridden by Scobie Breasley!

The recent Panorama expose that promised to lift the lid on the seamier side of racing was boring viewing for most of us connected with the sport, as it highlighted nothing new. However, what was interesting was how the media tackled a subject we knew more about than it did.

To an extent its coverage told us how reliable its reportage on other subjects, those we have to take their word on, is likely to be. In that respect, we have to conclude that Panorama produced an accurate account of what it had uncovered. There was no sensationalism; on the contrary, it seemed tame, although the stupidity of a few jockeys beggars belief! It did also tell us that there are some very undesirable characters within racing.

Not exactly shock horror for most of us. The sooner they can all be placed in a home for those deluded into believing they belong in a civilised society the better! Lastly, I like Sheikh Mohammed and all he stands for. But I do think he is in danger of wobbling from the rails.

In search of the rouble and the pound, Dubai is no longer quite the desirable destination it once was. Similarly, Godolphin is in danger of being an expensive failure for all who fly its flag. The concept that money can be chucked at, and thus rectify, a problem has long been exposed as false. The main difficulty Godolphin has stems from its purchasing policy. Unlike Coolmore, they do not have the quality of stallion to breed top class middle-distance horses.

In search of elusive Group 1 winners, they pursue a policy of buying American-breds that invariably fail to stay further than ten furlongs at best or of buying from others horses at inflated prices that have won half-decent races. Sometimes the truth hurts. It is time for Godolphin to take a long look at itself.

We all want it to be a success again but, like those trainers in denial over what is happening under their noses at Newmarket and Lambourn at present, they have to wake up and smell the mint tea. At the counter, a customer was engaged in an argument with a member of staff. Apparently, there was some sort of altercation in progress concerning a price that he thought he had taken about a selection in a multiple bet.

It appeared that because a member of staff had not initialled the price, company policy dictated they were not bound to pay at such odds. Having exhausted all his lines of argument, the exasperated punter finally threatened the manageress with what he considered the threat to end all threats. Needless to say she paid him. But what a sad, sad statement for the punter to make. That sort of sum would allow him to go on holiday three times a year, buy a new car, hire a room in Mayfair twice a year for a weekend and have a young blonde in thigh boots beat his buttocks with the Racing Post — the possibilities are endless.

Yet he preferred to give his cash to bookmakers. He might as well have cut out the middle-man and made a standing order to the firm in question, in which case he would not have needed to leave the comfort of his sofa. I am afraid betting shops are full of such characters.

Or at least they used to be; now they are virtually empty. It is little wonder. Friends in London — where there is a betting shop every few hundred yards — tell me such establishments are now little more than arcades. Bells ring, announcers announce, there are constant lottery games, fruit machines pump out coins and flash, whilst on the bank of screens, dogs whizz out of traps and horses, real and otherwise, race. Lots of belt-tightening will be required at Harrow then!

No more best claret at the Ladbroke lunches, just Rioja. Actually, I was once treated to lunch by one of the top men at Ladbrokes that consisted of a beef sandwich and a glass of fresh orange in a club off Portman Square. Once I had expressed no interest in drinking the alcohol never a good idea to imbibe when consorting with the enemy in my view , interest in me waned. That is another story for another day. To return to the Ladbroke report: Chris Bell, their chief executive, stated betting office profits were up by 6.

Chris Bell wears expensive suits and looks like he could stand-in for David Cameron. Following the line taken by William Hill earlier in the week, he bemoans the fact that there will be four blank Sundays in and the cut in evening racing fixtures during the winter. Rather like the man in the earlier scenario, Bell has showed his hand. By declaring fruit machines have mainly generated increased profits, he is in effect issuing a warning to those tempted to play them that they represent the worst value for money within the confines of a betting shop.

That is obvious when you think about it. They are programmed to take out a pre-determined profit. They are rather like the Tote Pool, only worse because they do not declare a dividend. But only whilst those with coins in their hands keep feeding the ever-hungry mouths of the machines in the belief they will be the exception to the rule.

One other slightly more worrying development about the Ladbroke situation is their apparent keenness to move into countries like China and India, which Bell seemed to announce with relish. These are two countries struggling with poverty despite the richness of their showpiece cities. Because they have such large populations that will always be the case, and is not a reflection on the way they are governed. That time has passed. Now they have revealed themselves as the enemy. One last point about them: How is that now, with so much competition from all quarters, including Betfair and squeezed margins, they can afford to match new customers on a free bet for bet basis?

Those that bemoan the standard of racing at some of them may, like me, consider we have at least twenty too many. To have sixty racecourses that are standing idle for the most of the time, requiring ground maintenance and security arrangements, seems like a dubious business proposition. Someone has to finance this idle situation. Some of the money comes from the revenue generated by the courses, some of it from the Levy Board or the BHA. Far better, I would have thought, to have less racecourses staging more racing.

Pound for pound, we derive most value from the all-weather racecourses, of which there are only four. They may not provide the highest standard of racing but they do give punters a fair chance. The ground and the draw is not an issue. We can rely on the ground invariably being standard, whilst the draw bias is an open secret. If anything, we could do with a few more Polytrack-based racecourses and few less turf-based, something so amply demonstrated by the unfortunate non-fixture that was York this week.

Polytrack is the future. Its surface can withstand endless pounding. It would be possible to stage two meetings a day at, say Wolverhampton or Great Leighs — any combination of morning, afternoon and evening — and the surface is not subject to a last minute change due to unexpected weather.

Turf racecourses are liable to become quagmires, or airport runways. Because they are watered, the draw bias can alter without rhyme or reason. Some places like Folkestone, Salisbury, Doncaster, York and Newcastle have an advantageous draw one day that can turn into the kiss of death the next. This situation benefits no one — except of course bookmakers. Reluctantly, we have to accept the isolated world of horseracing is not so isolated when global weather change can effect its continuance in its present form.

Our winters are warmer but our summers at least if the last two are anything to go by are wetter. America has tackled this problem by installing dirt racecourses soon to be replaced by a similar surface to Polytrack on all their courses so there is a choice of surface.

In this country, it seems a similar overhaul of some of our racecourses is in order. If we are to trim the number of racing venues, such a move has to be fair and without prejudice. So initially we could start by short listing all non dual-coded racecourses as potentially redundant.

It should not take too long and too many brains to decide they are exempt from closure. But what of Huntingdon, Taunton, Stratford, Salisbury, Brighton ridiculously popular with Londoners considering its vagaries Nottingham and Sedgefield? How about Carlisle, Catterick, Folkestone, the cluster of racecourses in Yorkshire, those encroaching the Midlands: Ludlow, Towcester, Warwick, Worcester — are they all essential? Locals to places like those mentioned in addition to Fakenham and Market Rasen will no doubt put up a fight, and I do accept there is a problem with the closure of National Hunt racecourses.

However, where racecourses are close to each other, surely a distribution of racing throughout the surviving racecourses would mean one less in that area would not spell a reduction in actual racing. Is it sensible to continue to prop up sixty racecourses when forty, maybe even thirty-five, would do the same job at a lesser cost and allow more investment in prize-money and a lowering in entrance fees currently too high for race-goers?

Their fixtures transferred, no one laments the passing of these places now — only those of us old enough or nostalgic enough are even aware of their closure, much less are in mourning. Time and circumstances change. Racing has to bend with the wind. I know such radical thinking will not make me popular with many; but needs must! A cull of racecourses is required. We need to trim the fixture list but consider utilising the all-weather racecourses on a wider scale to accommodate the shortfall, at least in terms of Flat racing.

National Hunt racing is a special case. Virtually useless from a betting point of view after April, to an extent they will have to paddle their respective canoes in some cases literally during the summer months. Those that can survive during the winter places like Plumpton and Fontwell must struggle are welcome to soldier on; those that cannot will have to accept they are not viable concerns and hand their fixtures over to courses that are.

By all accounts, biblical proportions of rain are due, meaning if your neighbour is a carpenter and you hear banging and hammering noises coming from his garage it could be time to check your insurance. Weather forecasters have a poor betting history. They are quite good at stating the obvious but less good when it comes to predicting the unexpected. Once the weather turns in one direction or the other they are quick to state that it will be a long hot summer or the wettest in living memory or, at the first sign of a dusting of ground frost in December that we are in for a desperate winter.

Right now, they seem united. The next three days are likely to present us with monsoon conditions: for Sunderland read Singapore, Reading becomes Rangoon and Birmingham Bombay. We are in for a rainy season, which means that for the second year running the summer has been a virtual washout. So far, at least in the south of the country, the sky looks menacing, purple in places; there is a grumble of thunder but other than a brief downpour or two, rather like the man that predicts the end of the world is nigh, we have not progressed beyond threats.

Perhaps it is different with you but taking the weathermen at their word, we are all likely to be awash at some stage over the next few days. As far as racing is concerned that means we are in for yet another seismic change in terms of form and ground. Such a situation only exacerbates a year when form is already in turmoil.

If you are struggling, then if it is any consolation, professionals that I know are at best breaking even on their betting but losing when considering expenses, at worst, they are doing their brains. It has been that sort of year. Black clouds have been amassing ever since the start of the Flat season and now they are literally threatening to rain on our parade. Tomorrow, Beverley and Hamilton could be quagmires. Chepstow, already and always it seems soft, must be in doubt after the predicted deluges, whilst Sandown and Salisbury should survive but look guaranteed to be soft.

Only Great Leighs on Thursday can be relied upon to provide decent ground. All very depressing I know. Apart from the fact that racing has failed to lift off from a punting point of view, it has also been a downbeat year in other ways for followers of the sport.

So much so, that, under pressure from the other half, I have just booked a late summer holiday in Greece starting on the Tuesday after the Arc de Triomphe. That is a sure sign that all my yards will simultaneously have it off during that period and horses like Moonquake that I have waited for all season, will chose that week to come good.

But you cannot continue to sit and hope. Better to spend money on something you are guaranteed to enjoy rather than contribute to the holiday funds of others. In the meantime, on the assumption our friends from the Met Office are on the right lines, it looks like a case of backing Black Rain in the 8.

Nothing personal, it is just that I am not particularly interested in archery, swimming especially when the events same to be won by the same competitor , sailing or whatever else it is that they are up to at present. My loss no doubt; and to be fair racing takes a large chunk of the day, so for me, watching television as a pastime is rather like Gordon Ramsey having to endure a dinner party in my conservatory.

By all accounts, the Chinese have made a good job of staging the Olympics. Their opening ceremony was spectacular — anything that involves fireworks does give them an advantage — but they appear to have set a standard that will be hard for Great Britain to emulate in when the quest for athletic excellence shifts to London. Oh Lord! Great city for shopping: Oxford Street for the big chains, Bond Street for designers and Marleybone High Street for women who like the unusual reasonably priced, as found in Shoon.

Shaftesbury Avenue is good for theatres — although not up to Broadway — and there are countless other attractions like the London Eye, the Imax, museums and events like tea at the Ritz. But London to host the Olympics. Now that is something of a challenge for a city geared up to commerce, shopping, entertainment and turning visitors over.

However, we appear to be on the starting blocks already. No sooner do the current Games conclude than, to coincide with the handover on August 24th, London will stage a party with Will Young, James Morrison and Scouting for Girls headlining a host of artists along The Mall. Whether any miming will be involved is not known. The Olympic Flag will be handed to Boris Johnson, so no danger of him doing much damage there, and to be on the safe side Jade Goody will be in India.

As a nation, we have four years to prepare the world for what they may encounter after their touchdown at London Airport. Well, there will be the usual shady-looking cab drivers prowling the terminals in the hope of picking up a fare. Strangers to the UK who agree to the cheaper alternative to the traditional black cab, will have the temporary impression that the Vauxhall Cavalier is a cutting edge vehicle here.

Those unfamiliar with our monetary system will also be perplexed when persuaded the larger note that says it is a twenty is worth less than the smaller one that says it is a five. They may also think a game known as Find the Lady is incredibly easy to play until they actually put any money down. The same applies to the MacDonalds Hamburger Eating competition, principally because, as a condition, this discipline should include the downing of a pint of bitter in between burgers.

The most suitable location for this would appear to be The Queen Vic, which could also hold fledging events such as darts, dominos and spitting into a pint mug from a distance of ten yards. Those who find themselves here in four years time should be aware that we have some stringent immigration rules. Only if you cannot speak English, or have a billion pounds are you likely to be eligible to apply for British citizenship when the competition concludes. However, if you tick neither of the above boxes, all is not lost as you may still be given a Toyota Cruiser and a large house in Finsbury Park.

As for us residents, before the shindig, travel agents should prepare for a flood of enquiries from residents in the capital looking for holidays between late July and early August. At its completion, there is the promise of a better transport system, new state-of-the-art stadiums, and the rebirth of the east end of London.

Today, on ground that should have made us all think twice, there were some disappointing runs from some very well-fancied favourites. The word disappointing is overused in racing. Trainers often shove it under our noses when discussing the chances of horses that appear to only have to go down and come back. It makes me wonder how we should cope with so much disappointment swimming around after the races.

I have seen some of the trainers in question after this unforeseen disappointment has manifested itself. They look surprisingly unruffled, in contrast to those that have backed the horses concerned. Two races are shown from there on the racing channels and the prize-money totals the equivalent of three days domestic racing in this country.

Not bad for a wet Sunday in August and certainly better than anything we will manage this week! Oh sure, we have York round the corner but, like so many things associated with our nearest neighbours across the channel, you cannot help but think they have a better formula than we have.. French racing is very different to our equivalent. They have nowhere near the amount of racing but when they do stage a meeting, it is with typical Gallic panache.

The major tracks of Longchamp, Deauville, Maisons-Laffitte, Chantilly and Saint-Cloud all regularly host meetings where fat purses are offered to winning connections. Entrance fees are low and an experience at a French racecourse is a much more refined affair than it is in Britain. No chanting from hordes of race goers just off the coach who have polished off crates of Carling and John Smiths and are now starting on the racecourse draught.

No heaving betting ring full of men in football shirts swilling beer from plastic containers and gurning at the television cameras behind John McCririck. It is more a case of Yves St Lauren, Hermes ties and the equivalent of what used to be the British stiff upper-lip. Of course the French only have customers to please and no bookmakers, so which is preferable? Betting in France is strictly regulated and controlled by the PMU, with all profits returned to racing. Betting in this country is still regulated but is an industry in freefall.

Of course, this means punters have far greater choice here and are not saddled with swingeing SPs or their equivalent. And there is none of this coupling nonsense to put up with. The French definitely have that one wrong. Their system, which is a dubious concept to start with, means coupling horses in the same ownership, rather than the logical step of lumping together horses that represent the same trainer.

A case can be made for the latter system but horses in the same, or in part-ownership being coupled means that very often, with something like the Ballydoyle consortium, or on occasions when Prince Khalid Abdullah has more than one runner in a race, prices are compressed to a ghastly level. The French do not have everything right but they are a good way toward making racing a pastime enjoyed by the public, rather than an industry catering for people with little interest in the sport.

Visitors to our racecourses do gracefully declare that English racing is wonderful. It would be nice if we could combine the best of both worlds to these shores but such a move would require a major cultural rethink that shifts way beyond our little equine world.

As a nation, we would have to revise our behaviour in all sorts of areas. Our attitude to alcohol and the way we spend our leisure time for a start. For the time being, although it grieves me to admit it, rather like their food and their way of life, the Europeans, although far from perfect, do seem to have the edge over us in the culture stakes.

Which is rather a shame as there was a time when Britain led the way in that particular field. Alas, along with so much more of our national heritage, those days are gone. Many will state about time too! They may have a point. Those that administrated this country for so long eventually fell on their own swords, leaving the way open for a dilution of power, away from authority and to its people. Perhaps they only have themselves to blame for the kind of society we now find ourselves living in.

Had they made a better and more convincing job of that rule, perhaps the yob, knife and drink culture, for which we are increasing becoming synonymous, would never had reared its grotesque head. It started in typical curmudgeonly style. It rained. It rained very hard at Haydock, making the ground akin to Towcester in December. It also rained pretty hard at Newmarket and steadily at Ascot — where they held the Shergar Cup.

Oh so much to complain about! The form would be out the window, the Shergar Cup would provide the bookmakers with the sort of benefit they could not have staged better if they had been in control. The races were all handicaps; we were largely unfamiliar with half the jockeys riding, and the captain of the British team was a girl. And we all know that girls cannot ride because they are not strong enough or wily enough and the proper jockeys, that is to say the men, shuffle and buffet them around during races.

So there was not point in having a bet at all. At Haydock, where it had rained very hard, in the opener, Zero Tolerance was punted into the ground and bolted up. Then, in the Coral Handicap, especially designed to fox the punter, the obvious and topical horse in view of events in China, Valery Borzov, sprinted away to land another gamble. Not a bad start to a card that looked about as logical as Portman Park beforehand.

Newmarket trundled along reasonably well. Despite being his Bismarck, a very well-backed Rainbow View upset only Barry Dennis when winning the Group 3 Sweet Solera in the style of a useful filly. Jamie Spencer had the sort of day we all had coming. He failed to persuade Bentong to exit the stalls in this and later, his mount, Vanderlin, burst from the stalls prematurely in the last and had to be withdrawn.

The Japanese rider followed up in he second when Nans Joy, who could not win, did. Then they smashed into Shifting Star and he obliged. What makes it worse, this is not the first time she has done this sort of thing. The little strumpet can ride and she looks cute, particularly with mud splattered across her pretty face and her earrings twinkling in the rain. If she is going to be a proper jockey, at least she could look like one of the dwarfs out of Snow White. But no, not content with captaining her team and having the gall to be the only British jockey to ride a winner, she makes you want to ask her out for a drink!

But there was still hope! Okay, she liked a bit of give, but the rain had really got in by this time, she pulled to the start and her rider, Gerald Mosse, had already booted two winners home so had used up all his good fortune. It was a recipe for disaster. Time to open the red wine.

Something French seemed appropriate, as Mosse was sure to make a mess of things. Worse, he had probably phoned Ladbrokes in the morning and told them they could lay the filly for all they were worth! Off a slow pace, he rode a shocker, lying too far out of his ground and giving the filly far too much to do. After a glass of claret, it was obvious Perfect Star was not going to win.

But the rain slowed those in front, who stopped quickly and Mosse was able to extricate the filly and produce her with the perfect run to get up close home. See, I told you he was a good jockey! And rumour has it that the Ascot crowd were entertained after racing by Paul Young, Bananarama and other popular musicians and that people, most of them improperly dressed by Ascot standards, were reported having had a good time.

Damn it! What is happening with this racing game? We have the best jockeys, the best horses, the most diverse courses: Ascot, Cheltenham, Newmarket and York to name a few. Oh, and we have the biggest number of racecourses of any country considering our size. That is a great recipe is it not. So how come I have not watched a single horserace the last two days and possibly will not bother again today.

Put bluntly, racing has been abysmal, dire, shocking, boring in the extreme. Writing this on Tuesday night, if somebody offered me that dream scenario of being able to have a bet today with the results already known, I would be unable to cash in. I am no wiser than I was this morning. Yet I have not been in the slightest bit interested. I have spent this afternoon listening to Steve Wright on Radio 2 whilst catching up on some work.

For that to happen something is wrong. I do not expect Goodwood every week. I know poor horses need a chance to compete. But do they have to do it in my office for race after race, day after day? No, they do not. Not if I chose for them not to, and for the past two days I have chosen them to run round the likes of Catterick, Windsor, Carlisle and Chepstow without me. That is my choice — it is yours too. If, as the bookmakers would have us believe, racing revolves around the turnover they generate, allowing them to put money into the sport, how is it that the level of prize-money today was so paltry?

At Chepstow, it was even worse. Something is radically wrong somewhere. This is not an isolated incident, this is happening every day of the week. And when the prize-money on offer is less than the amount that can be won by laying or backing a horse for even a modest sum, then it does not take an egghead to work out our priorities are askew. All it takes is a bit of common sense and the will to improve the situation. If trainers fail to support such an initiative and it does not give punters at least something of interest on the day, close the tracks, stop the funding, tell the courses in question they have to make their own way without the help of the Levy Board.

Bookmakers would soon start screaming if blank days appeared, or on certain days, only one meeting was staged. If they are the benevolent saviours that they claim, let them step in and plug the gap in the fixture list, which at present infers only those without any appreciation of the noble sport are dim-witted enough to watch what is served up regardless of quality. If, as they assert, racing is not the focal point of their business, let us put it to the test and see how long their betting shops, their off-shore credit offices and their mansions of commerce in London, Manchester and Leeds, last without the staple diet they have taken for granted for so long.

As punters — never forget you have a choice. You can turn off the remote; you can go to the cinema or the gym instead of the betting office. You can check out the latest holiday details on your computer instead of gawping at Betfair. Racing is great when it is good. But it is dross when it is bad. Gambling caused me a lot of problems in my life — financial and emotional. I want to help, just one person would be enough.

The gambling epidemic can only get worse. Shilton said he hoped to work with the Professional Footballers Association to raise awareness of gambling within the game. He and his wife were shocked by the story of Mr Keogh, who was 34 when he took his own life in Gambling addiction has been linked to self-harm, depression and anxiety and causes two suicides a day in the UK. Shilton received no fee for this article. A donation has been made to Gambling with Lives.

Wife quit job to save him from addiction. She was shocked by the grip gambling had on the football legend when she met him in , and embarked on a mission to get him to quit. She left her job to help him through withdrawal symptoms, and will next week meet Government ministers to discuss ways to help other addicts. I looked at it as a medical condition, just like a drug addiction. But she said they replied claiming they were unable to take any action because of data protection rules.

She was forced to try other tactics, including separating herself financially. I kept reiterating that he could tell me anything. In , three years after they got together, the former goalkeeper placed his last bet. Shilton then picked up the phone to Betfair to cancel his account. Stopping gambling caused three months of withdrawal symptoms including sleepless nights, mood swings and irritability.

I wanted him so much to overcome it that giving up my career was unquestionable. Each day we went on long walks. She now hopes to return to work in the NHS, and is determined to help other families struggling with gambling. She will meet health minister Nadine Dorries next week to discuss becoming involved in the 14 NHS gambling clinics around the country. Gambling firms must take their responsibility. We now have a second life. We have disposable income and can go on nice weekends or nice meals.

Shilton split from his first wife in They married in and have two sons. Over the past few years we have significantly strengthened our responsible gambling practices, including limit-setting and other tools, and have invested in technology to help us proactively identify and engage with customers who may be at risk. The Shiltons are supporting the charity Gambling with Lives which was set up by bereaved parents who have lost children to gambling addiction.

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KOA AND ANDY LINDAHL SPORTS BETTING INTERVIEW

Such presenters, on satellite and terrestrial channels, bookmakers, the Tote and anyone making a living out of this racing game, want us — the mugs — to bet. We are an integral part of keeping the show on the road. A pension is only a word to a professional punter.

He is his pension and unless he can back winners, his fund is nil — mafish as our friends in the desert would say. So I want to bet. Yes, it is nonsense. Take Pontefract. No thanks! Ascot Lime will be short in the 4. The race is weak and you would think he would oblige.

He is a good-looking son of Pivotal who had a bad start to his racing career when some wild beast from the jungle ran across him at the start. He is getting his act together but his solitary win was from a mark of 77 and now he races from I ask you, how has this happened? How can a horse that has one victory to his name, and then by the narrow margin of a head, be rated twelve pounds higher two runs later without winning?

So it looks like another blank day. Elsewhere, after a scare, we are told Denman is now all right. I think it was Martin Pipe who once said there is no such thing as a bit of a leg; saying a horse has a bit of a leg is like saying a woman is a little bit pregnant. Well said Martin! I wish Denman and all connected nothing but good fortune; but fear that we have not heard the last of this saga.

Sick one day — well the next. If I am all Fraser and gloom, at least events in the wider world do present a lighter side. A pig in Australia is apparently preventing its owner, a woman, from leaving her house to use the outside toilet, or dunny.

The pig is by all accounts big as far as pigs go — an undesirable shape to be in I would have thought if you are a pig — and his sheer bulk and bad temper has made this woman a prisoner in her own house. Quite what she is doing without the services of a toilet is unclear. Drinking very little and crossing her legs a lot one would imagine.

Oh and the pig is called Bruce. Now I knew that everyone in Australia is called either John or Bruce, unless of course they are female in which case their name is Sheila, but calling a pig Bruce does lack some imagination in a nation full of men all answering to the same name. Tricky times for the Labour Party at present.

If they wish to replace Gordon Brown, they do have a name problem to overcome with regard to his successor. So those wishing to replace Gordon Brown have a limited choice. Unless they can come across a Bruce, this only leaves Hazel Blears, who sounds more and more like a stateswoman each time we see her. Perhaps aware of this, the powers-that-be only allotted her three minutes speaking time at Conference but she made it count. Hazel Blears it is then! Unless that is J K Rowling can stump up another million quid for the Party, in which case perhaps that will be enough to buy it lock, stock and barrel and she and Harry Potter can run the show.

Lindsay Lohan has come out of her pink closet and broken a thousand male hearts with the announcement she has a female lover in the shape of Samantha Ronson. The last thing I want is a broken heart as well as an empty wallet. Well, how was it for you?

Did you lay Infallible reckoning a three-year-old filly had it to do against colts? Or Henrythenavigator because you felt lucky, Yeats because two miles was a minimum and Lush Lashes because the ground had turned against her? But when it comes down to it, it is what you actually do: whether or not you press that button, pick up the phone or write out the slip that counts. There is a fine line between winning and losing. If you back every horse you fancy, you will lose. If you lay every favourite that you can make half a case against, the same applies.

Somehow, you have to invoke a selective system. And very often it is not a system at all but more an almost random slice of fortune, sprinkled with a sliver of logic or even a sixth sense. What it boils down to is — some transactions are made and others are not. Thereby is the difference between winning and losing. It is as simple as that. As it turned out, I hit the ground running with Paco Boy and followed up with Gravitation.

Two good-priced winners from which only a congenital idiot, a compulsive or someone who had given his Ladbroke details to a sadist could then turn into a losing week. I mention this, not to crow about my good fortune but to illustrate the point. Without the winning bet on Paco Boy which followed a losing one on Monte Alto , I may not have gone down the same road with Gravitation.

And without such a safety net I may not have backed Visit. There were some losers along the way: Muthabara and Prime Defender on Saturday to name but two, but by then I was comfortably in front, or Comfortably Numb depending on your perception and whether you are a Pink Floyd fan. So what is the difference between a horse we fancy but let run and the one we actually back? Some bets are obvious but they probably only account for fifteen or twenty bets a season at best.

Would we be better just concentrating on those, or are we right to back horses we think might win or are good value? To be fair, spreading the number of bets we strike does give us a better chance of winning in the long run — or so you would think — but I am coming to the conclusion that there are bets where the odds are stacked in our favour and bets where they are against or only about right at best.

This may sound obvious but it is worth dwelling on. The truth is, however confident we are before the race, afterwards, it is blindingly obvious what we should or should not have done. I have struck some bets in my time on horses that I was convinced would win only to see them blend into the mountainous backdrop that is Ayr or the rolling turf of Newmarket.

Then, after it is all over, something has come to mind. Wrong trip — never won left-handed, wins in the summer months — badly drawn idiot! You need to be drawn low on the round course at Thirsk not Ripon. Can I? When it all comes together, we are so clever. But this game only teases us into thinking we have cracked its code.

No sooner do we think we are on top than we find ourselves right back where we belong! Normally we feel our way through the murk of March and April as form lines gradually slot into place, and by the time of the Guineas Meeting have a fair idea where we stand.

Not so this time round. Aided by one or two clues from the winter all-weather fixtures and from the excellent Dubai Carnival, then by the first two Classics, most years one can bumble along backing the odd winner in amongst all the fat losers until mid-summer when, for those who have persevered with the formbook, all the hard work starts to pay dividends. So what has gone wrong this year? Well a couple of things: firstly, a bug has plagued half of Lambourn and Newmarket.

Horses appear fine in their work but those affected return from the races lifeless and listless having failed to run up to form. Very few yards have escaped this malaise yet not one, with the exception of Jeremy Noseda, has admitted to being a victim. Sensibly, he shut up shop and now looks to be on the way back.

The rest of those struggling through this particularly unpleasant equine strain seem to be in some sort of denial. Not one trainer seems to be prepared to admit there is a problem. What they tell their owners is their own business but it does not take a detective to work out something is wrong.

Just look at the results. Even yards struggling through have patchy form. It is no coincidence that those yards that have enjoyed the most success this season have all been isolated. Richard Hannon and Andrew Balding are two that spring to mind.

Neither yard is housed in a main training centre. The only other horses their strings see are either pulling carts or delivering milk. The problem may not go away with the disappearance of this bug because the danger is that when the big yards return to normal, the formbook is likely to be about as much use as Gordon Brown at a fashion convention — or indeed any convention at all!

All one can do at present is stick to horses with solid recent form and avoid those from yards whose last winner was ridden by Scobie Breasley! The recent Panorama expose that promised to lift the lid on the seamier side of racing was boring viewing for most of us connected with the sport, as it highlighted nothing new. However, what was interesting was how the media tackled a subject we knew more about than it did.

To an extent its coverage told us how reliable its reportage on other subjects, those we have to take their word on, is likely to be. In that respect, we have to conclude that Panorama produced an accurate account of what it had uncovered. There was no sensationalism; on the contrary, it seemed tame, although the stupidity of a few jockeys beggars belief! It did also tell us that there are some very undesirable characters within racing.

Not exactly shock horror for most of us. The sooner they can all be placed in a home for those deluded into believing they belong in a civilised society the better! Lastly, I like Sheikh Mohammed and all he stands for. But I do think he is in danger of wobbling from the rails. In search of the rouble and the pound, Dubai is no longer quite the desirable destination it once was.

Similarly, Godolphin is in danger of being an expensive failure for all who fly its flag. The concept that money can be chucked at, and thus rectify, a problem has long been exposed as false. The main difficulty Godolphin has stems from its purchasing policy. Unlike Coolmore, they do not have the quality of stallion to breed top class middle-distance horses.

In search of elusive Group 1 winners, they pursue a policy of buying American-breds that invariably fail to stay further than ten furlongs at best or of buying from others horses at inflated prices that have won half-decent races. Sometimes the truth hurts. It is time for Godolphin to take a long look at itself. We all want it to be a success again but, like those trainers in denial over what is happening under their noses at Newmarket and Lambourn at present, they have to wake up and smell the mint tea.

At the counter, a customer was engaged in an argument with a member of staff. Apparently, there was some sort of altercation in progress concerning a price that he thought he had taken about a selection in a multiple bet. It appeared that because a member of staff had not initialled the price, company policy dictated they were not bound to pay at such odds. Having exhausted all his lines of argument, the exasperated punter finally threatened the manageress with what he considered the threat to end all threats.

Needless to say she paid him. But what a sad, sad statement for the punter to make. That sort of sum would allow him to go on holiday three times a year, buy a new car, hire a room in Mayfair twice a year for a weekend and have a young blonde in thigh boots beat his buttocks with the Racing Post — the possibilities are endless.

Yet he preferred to give his cash to bookmakers. He might as well have cut out the middle-man and made a standing order to the firm in question, in which case he would not have needed to leave the comfort of his sofa. I am afraid betting shops are full of such characters. Or at least they used to be; now they are virtually empty. It is little wonder. Friends in London — where there is a betting shop every few hundred yards — tell me such establishments are now little more than arcades. Bells ring, announcers announce, there are constant lottery games, fruit machines pump out coins and flash, whilst on the bank of screens, dogs whizz out of traps and horses, real and otherwise, race.

Lots of belt-tightening will be required at Harrow then! No more best claret at the Ladbroke lunches, just Rioja. Actually, I was once treated to lunch by one of the top men at Ladbrokes that consisted of a beef sandwich and a glass of fresh orange in a club off Portman Square. Once I had expressed no interest in drinking the alcohol never a good idea to imbibe when consorting with the enemy in my view , interest in me waned. That is another story for another day.

To return to the Ladbroke report: Chris Bell, their chief executive, stated betting office profits were up by 6. Chris Bell wears expensive suits and looks like he could stand-in for David Cameron. Following the line taken by William Hill earlier in the week, he bemoans the fact that there will be four blank Sundays in and the cut in evening racing fixtures during the winter.

Rather like the man in the earlier scenario, Bell has showed his hand. By declaring fruit machines have mainly generated increased profits, he is in effect issuing a warning to those tempted to play them that they represent the worst value for money within the confines of a betting shop. That is obvious when you think about it. They are programmed to take out a pre-determined profit. They are rather like the Tote Pool, only worse because they do not declare a dividend.

But only whilst those with coins in their hands keep feeding the ever-hungry mouths of the machines in the belief they will be the exception to the rule. One other slightly more worrying development about the Ladbroke situation is their apparent keenness to move into countries like China and India, which Bell seemed to announce with relish. These are two countries struggling with poverty despite the richness of their showpiece cities.

Because they have such large populations that will always be the case, and is not a reflection on the way they are governed. That time has passed. Now they have revealed themselves as the enemy. One last point about them: How is that now, with so much competition from all quarters, including Betfair and squeezed margins, they can afford to match new customers on a free bet for bet basis?

Those that bemoan the standard of racing at some of them may, like me, consider we have at least twenty too many. To have sixty racecourses that are standing idle for the most of the time, requiring ground maintenance and security arrangements, seems like a dubious business proposition. Someone has to finance this idle situation. Some of the money comes from the revenue generated by the courses, some of it from the Levy Board or the BHA.

Far better, I would have thought, to have less racecourses staging more racing. Pound for pound, we derive most value from the all-weather racecourses, of which there are only four. They may not provide the highest standard of racing but they do give punters a fair chance. The ground and the draw is not an issue.

We can rely on the ground invariably being standard, whilst the draw bias is an open secret. If anything, we could do with a few more Polytrack-based racecourses and few less turf-based, something so amply demonstrated by the unfortunate non-fixture that was York this week. Polytrack is the future. Its surface can withstand endless pounding. It would be possible to stage two meetings a day at, say Wolverhampton or Great Leighs — any combination of morning, afternoon and evening — and the surface is not subject to a last minute change due to unexpected weather.

Turf racecourses are liable to become quagmires, or airport runways. Because they are watered, the draw bias can alter without rhyme or reason. Some places like Folkestone, Salisbury, Doncaster, York and Newcastle have an advantageous draw one day that can turn into the kiss of death the next. This situation benefits no one — except of course bookmakers. Reluctantly, we have to accept the isolated world of horseracing is not so isolated when global weather change can effect its continuance in its present form.

Our winters are warmer but our summers at least if the last two are anything to go by are wetter. America has tackled this problem by installing dirt racecourses soon to be replaced by a similar surface to Polytrack on all their courses so there is a choice of surface. In this country, it seems a similar overhaul of some of our racecourses is in order. If we are to trim the number of racing venues, such a move has to be fair and without prejudice. So initially we could start by short listing all non dual-coded racecourses as potentially redundant.

It should not take too long and too many brains to decide they are exempt from closure. But what of Huntingdon, Taunton, Stratford, Salisbury, Brighton ridiculously popular with Londoners considering its vagaries Nottingham and Sedgefield? How about Carlisle, Catterick, Folkestone, the cluster of racecourses in Yorkshire, those encroaching the Midlands: Ludlow, Towcester, Warwick, Worcester — are they all essential?

Locals to places like those mentioned in addition to Fakenham and Market Rasen will no doubt put up a fight, and I do accept there is a problem with the closure of National Hunt racecourses. However, where racecourses are close to each other, surely a distribution of racing throughout the surviving racecourses would mean one less in that area would not spell a reduction in actual racing.

Is it sensible to continue to prop up sixty racecourses when forty, maybe even thirty-five, would do the same job at a lesser cost and allow more investment in prize-money and a lowering in entrance fees currently too high for race-goers? Their fixtures transferred, no one laments the passing of these places now — only those of us old enough or nostalgic enough are even aware of their closure, much less are in mourning.

Time and circumstances change. Racing has to bend with the wind. I know such radical thinking will not make me popular with many; but needs must! A cull of racecourses is required. We need to trim the fixture list but consider utilising the all-weather racecourses on a wider scale to accommodate the shortfall, at least in terms of Flat racing. National Hunt racing is a special case.

Virtually useless from a betting point of view after April, to an extent they will have to paddle their respective canoes in some cases literally during the summer months. Those that can survive during the winter places like Plumpton and Fontwell must struggle are welcome to soldier on; those that cannot will have to accept they are not viable concerns and hand their fixtures over to courses that are.

By all accounts, biblical proportions of rain are due, meaning if your neighbour is a carpenter and you hear banging and hammering noises coming from his garage it could be time to check your insurance. Weather forecasters have a poor betting history. They are quite good at stating the obvious but less good when it comes to predicting the unexpected. Once the weather turns in one direction or the other they are quick to state that it will be a long hot summer or the wettest in living memory or, at the first sign of a dusting of ground frost in December that we are in for a desperate winter.

Right now, they seem united. The next three days are likely to present us with monsoon conditions: for Sunderland read Singapore, Reading becomes Rangoon and Birmingham Bombay. We are in for a rainy season, which means that for the second year running the summer has been a virtual washout. So far, at least in the south of the country, the sky looks menacing, purple in places; there is a grumble of thunder but other than a brief downpour or two, rather like the man that predicts the end of the world is nigh, we have not progressed beyond threats.

Perhaps it is different with you but taking the weathermen at their word, we are all likely to be awash at some stage over the next few days. As far as racing is concerned that means we are in for yet another seismic change in terms of form and ground. Such a situation only exacerbates a year when form is already in turmoil.

If you are struggling, then if it is any consolation, professionals that I know are at best breaking even on their betting but losing when considering expenses, at worst, they are doing their brains. It has been that sort of year. Black clouds have been amassing ever since the start of the Flat season and now they are literally threatening to rain on our parade.

Tomorrow, Beverley and Hamilton could be quagmires. Chepstow, already and always it seems soft, must be in doubt after the predicted deluges, whilst Sandown and Salisbury should survive but look guaranteed to be soft. Only Great Leighs on Thursday can be relied upon to provide decent ground. All very depressing I know.

Apart from the fact that racing has failed to lift off from a punting point of view, it has also been a downbeat year in other ways for followers of the sport. So much so, that, under pressure from the other half, I have just booked a late summer holiday in Greece starting on the Tuesday after the Arc de Triomphe.

That is a sure sign that all my yards will simultaneously have it off during that period and horses like Moonquake that I have waited for all season, will chose that week to come good. But you cannot continue to sit and hope. Better to spend money on something you are guaranteed to enjoy rather than contribute to the holiday funds of others.

In the meantime, on the assumption our friends from the Met Office are on the right lines, it looks like a case of backing Black Rain in the 8. Nothing personal, it is just that I am not particularly interested in archery, swimming especially when the events same to be won by the same competitor , sailing or whatever else it is that they are up to at present.

My loss no doubt; and to be fair racing takes a large chunk of the day, so for me, watching television as a pastime is rather like Gordon Ramsey having to endure a dinner party in my conservatory. By all accounts, the Chinese have made a good job of staging the Olympics.

Their opening ceremony was spectacular — anything that involves fireworks does give them an advantage — but they appear to have set a standard that will be hard for Great Britain to emulate in when the quest for athletic excellence shifts to London. Oh Lord! Great city for shopping: Oxford Street for the big chains, Bond Street for designers and Marleybone High Street for women who like the unusual reasonably priced, as found in Shoon.

Shaftesbury Avenue is good for theatres — although not up to Broadway — and there are countless other attractions like the London Eye, the Imax, museums and events like tea at the Ritz. But London to host the Olympics. Now that is something of a challenge for a city geared up to commerce, shopping, entertainment and turning visitors over.

However, we appear to be on the starting blocks already. No sooner do the current Games conclude than, to coincide with the handover on August 24th, London will stage a party with Will Young, James Morrison and Scouting for Girls headlining a host of artists along The Mall. Whether any miming will be involved is not known. The Olympic Flag will be handed to Boris Johnson, so no danger of him doing much damage there, and to be on the safe side Jade Goody will be in India.

As a nation, we have four years to prepare the world for what they may encounter after their touchdown at London Airport. Well, there will be the usual shady-looking cab drivers prowling the terminals in the hope of picking up a fare. Strangers to the UK who agree to the cheaper alternative to the traditional black cab, will have the temporary impression that the Vauxhall Cavalier is a cutting edge vehicle here.

Those unfamiliar with our monetary system will also be perplexed when persuaded the larger note that says it is a twenty is worth less than the smaller one that says it is a five. They may also think a game known as Find the Lady is incredibly easy to play until they actually put any money down.

The same applies to the MacDonalds Hamburger Eating competition, principally because, as a condition, this discipline should include the downing of a pint of bitter in between burgers. The most suitable location for this would appear to be The Queen Vic, which could also hold fledging events such as darts, dominos and spitting into a pint mug from a distance of ten yards. Those who find themselves here in four years time should be aware that we have some stringent immigration rules.

Only if you cannot speak English, or have a billion pounds are you likely to be eligible to apply for British citizenship when the competition concludes. However, if you tick neither of the above boxes, all is not lost as you may still be given a Toyota Cruiser and a large house in Finsbury Park. As for us residents, before the shindig, travel agents should prepare for a flood of enquiries from residents in the capital looking for holidays between late July and early August.

At its completion, there is the promise of a better transport system, new state-of-the-art stadiums, and the rebirth of the east end of London. Today, on ground that should have made us all think twice, there were some disappointing runs from some very well-fancied favourites. The word disappointing is overused in racing. Trainers often shove it under our noses when discussing the chances of horses that appear to only have to go down and come back.

It makes me wonder how we should cope with so much disappointment swimming around after the races. I have seen some of the trainers in question after this unforeseen disappointment has manifested itself. They look surprisingly unruffled, in contrast to those that have backed the horses concerned. Two races are shown from there on the racing channels and the prize-money totals the equivalent of three days domestic racing in this country.

Not bad for a wet Sunday in August and certainly better than anything we will manage this week! Oh sure, we have York round the corner but, like so many things associated with our nearest neighbours across the channel, you cannot help but think they have a better formula than we have..

French racing is very different to our equivalent. They have nowhere near the amount of racing but when they do stage a meeting, it is with typical Gallic panache. The major tracks of Longchamp, Deauville, Maisons-Laffitte, Chantilly and Saint-Cloud all regularly host meetings where fat purses are offered to winning connections.

Entrance fees are low and an experience at a French racecourse is a much more refined affair than it is in Britain. No chanting from hordes of race goers just off the coach who have polished off crates of Carling and John Smiths and are now starting on the racecourse draught. No heaving betting ring full of men in football shirts swilling beer from plastic containers and gurning at the television cameras behind John McCririck.

It is more a case of Yves St Lauren, Hermes ties and the equivalent of what used to be the British stiff upper-lip. Of course the French only have customers to please and no bookmakers, so which is preferable? Betting in France is strictly regulated and controlled by the PMU, with all profits returned to racing.

Betting in this country is still regulated but is an industry in freefall. Of course, this means punters have far greater choice here and are not saddled with swingeing SPs or their equivalent. And there is none of this coupling nonsense to put up with. The French definitely have that one wrong. Their system, which is a dubious concept to start with, means coupling horses in the same ownership, rather than the logical step of lumping together horses that represent the same trainer.

A case can be made for the latter system but horses in the same, or in part-ownership being coupled means that very often, with something like the Ballydoyle consortium, or on occasions when Prince Khalid Abdullah has more than one runner in a race, prices are compressed to a ghastly level. The French do not have everything right but they are a good way toward making racing a pastime enjoyed by the public, rather than an industry catering for people with little interest in the sport.

Visitors to our racecourses do gracefully declare that English racing is wonderful. It would be nice if we could combine the best of both worlds to these shores but such a move would require a major cultural rethink that shifts way beyond our little equine world. As a nation, we would have to revise our behaviour in all sorts of areas. Our attitude to alcohol and the way we spend our leisure time for a start. For the time being, although it grieves me to admit it, rather like their food and their way of life, the Europeans, although far from perfect, do seem to have the edge over us in the culture stakes.

Which is rather a shame as there was a time when Britain led the way in that particular field. Alas, along with so much more of our national heritage, those days are gone. Many will state about time too! They may have a point.

Those that administrated this country for so long eventually fell on their own swords, leaving the way open for a dilution of power, away from authority and to its people. Perhaps they only have themselves to blame for the kind of society we now find ourselves living in.

Had they made a better and more convincing job of that rule, perhaps the yob, knife and drink culture, for which we are increasing becoming synonymous, would never had reared its grotesque head. It started in typical curmudgeonly style. It rained. It rained very hard at Haydock, making the ground akin to Towcester in December. It also rained pretty hard at Newmarket and steadily at Ascot — where they held the Shergar Cup. Oh so much to complain about!

The form would be out the window, the Shergar Cup would provide the bookmakers with the sort of benefit they could not have staged better if they had been in control. The races were all handicaps; we were largely unfamiliar with half the jockeys riding, and the captain of the British team was a girl.

And we all know that girls cannot ride because they are not strong enough or wily enough and the proper jockeys, that is to say the men, shuffle and buffet them around during races. So there was not point in having a bet at all. At Haydock, where it had rained very hard, in the opener, Zero Tolerance was punted into the ground and bolted up. Then, in the Coral Handicap, especially designed to fox the punter, the obvious and topical horse in view of events in China, Valery Borzov, sprinted away to land another gamble.

Not a bad start to a card that looked about as logical as Portman Park beforehand. Newmarket trundled along reasonably well. Despite being his Bismarck, a very well-backed Rainbow View upset only Barry Dennis when winning the Group 3 Sweet Solera in the style of a useful filly. Jamie Spencer had the sort of day we all had coming. He failed to persuade Bentong to exit the stalls in this and later, his mount, Vanderlin, burst from the stalls prematurely in the last and had to be withdrawn.

The Japanese rider followed up in he second when Nans Joy, who could not win, did. Then they smashed into Shifting Star and he obliged. What makes it worse, this is not the first time she has done this sort of thing. The little strumpet can ride and she looks cute, particularly with mud splattered across her pretty face and her earrings twinkling in the rain. If she is going to be a proper jockey, at least she could look like one of the dwarfs out of Snow White.

But no, not content with captaining her team and having the gall to be the only British jockey to ride a winner, she makes you want to ask her out for a drink! But there was still hope! Okay, she liked a bit of give, but the rain had really got in by this time, she pulled to the start and her rider, Gerald Mosse, had already booted two winners home so had used up all his good fortune. It was a recipe for disaster. Time to open the red wine. Something French seemed appropriate, as Mosse was sure to make a mess of things.

Worse, he had probably phoned Ladbrokes in the morning and told them they could lay the filly for all they were worth! Off a slow pace, he rode a shocker, lying too far out of his ground and giving the filly far too much to do. After a glass of claret, it was obvious Perfect Star was not going to win. But the rain slowed those in front, who stopped quickly and Mosse was able to extricate the filly and produce her with the perfect run to get up close home.

See, I told you he was a good jockey! And rumour has it that the Ascot crowd were entertained after racing by Paul Young, Bananarama and other popular musicians and that people, most of them improperly dressed by Ascot standards, were reported having had a good time. Damn it! What is happening with this racing game? We have the best jockeys, the best horses, the most diverse courses: Ascot, Cheltenham, Newmarket and York to name a few. Oh, and we have the biggest number of racecourses of any country considering our size.

That is a great recipe is it not. So how come I have not watched a single horserace the last two days and possibly will not bother again today. Put bluntly, racing has been abysmal, dire, shocking, boring in the extreme. Writing this on Tuesday night, if somebody offered me that dream scenario of being able to have a bet today with the results already known, I would be unable to cash in.

I am no wiser than I was this morning. Yet I have not been in the slightest bit interested. I have spent this afternoon listening to Steve Wright on Radio 2 whilst catching up on some work. For that to happen something is wrong. I do not expect Goodwood every week. I know poor horses need a chance to compete. But do they have to do it in my office for race after race, day after day?

No, they do not. Not if I chose for them not to, and for the past two days I have chosen them to run round the likes of Catterick, Windsor, Carlisle and Chepstow without me. That is my choice — it is yours too. If, as the bookmakers would have us believe, racing revolves around the turnover they generate, allowing them to put money into the sport, how is it that the level of prize-money today was so paltry?

At Chepstow, it was even worse. Something is radically wrong somewhere. This is not an isolated incident, this is happening every day of the week. And when the prize-money on offer is less than the amount that can be won by laying or backing a horse for even a modest sum, then it does not take an egghead to work out our priorities are askew. All it takes is a bit of common sense and the will to improve the situation. If trainers fail to support such an initiative and it does not give punters at least something of interest on the day, close the tracks, stop the funding, tell the courses in question they have to make their own way without the help of the Levy Board.

Bookmakers would soon start screaming if blank days appeared, or on certain days, only one meeting was staged. If they are the benevolent saviours that they claim, let them step in and plug the gap in the fixture list, which at present infers only those without any appreciation of the noble sport are dim-witted enough to watch what is served up regardless of quality. If, as they assert, racing is not the focal point of their business, let us put it to the test and see how long their betting shops, their off-shore credit offices and their mansions of commerce in London, Manchester and Leeds, last without the staple diet they have taken for granted for so long.

As punters — never forget you have a choice. You can turn off the remote; you can go to the cinema or the gym instead of the betting office. You can check out the latest holiday details on your computer instead of gawping at Betfair. Racing is great when it is good. But it is dross when it is bad. Let us vote with our biros, our fingers on the remote and our telephones.

Let us see what the authorities do then! Last week I wrote about the fine line between winning and losing. The invisible decision-making process that defines when a horse is a bet and when it is not. Sometimes, such uncertain decisions are based on luck, the mood we find ourselves in or on a sixth sense. Consider this for a set of decisions: Let me set the scene. You are in a private carriage of a train crashing through the night somewhere in Europe. It is dark outside; your fellow passengers are reflected in the black window.

There are six of you all from different walks of life. There is a soldier, a priest, a widow, a card sharp, a failed gambler and an ordinary-looking citizen. You may look unique but you are the same. You all have a chequered history and are not what you seem. You are one of this set of people. Outside, little lighted villages flash by. You are hurtling through the night to an appointment that means nothing to you. Should you fail to arrive it will not matter.

You have reached a point in your life when the speeding train has more purpose than you do. Now, in the midst of such inner turmoil, comes an invitation from an eccentric billionaire to take part in a game of Russian roulette for a million pounds.

This is not the ordinary game but one concerning six players, meaning five will survive and one will not. There is one revolver and one bullet. This bullet is inserted in the chamber, which is then spun and the gun placed in the middle of a table. Players have to then pick up the gun in turn, place it to their temple and squeeze the trigger.

Obviously, if the bullet is in the chamber when they do so, he or she will be sitting at the table minus a vital part of their anatomy. So two questions for you regarding probability and odds: Firstly, would you take part in this game for the money on offer? Then again, so could blowing your brains out. Secondly, as the chamber is only spun once before the game commences, it is certain that after a maximum of six shots one of the party will be dead.

Therefore, if you had the choice, at which point in the process would you care to fire. Alternatively, perhaps you would opt for somewhere in-between. The choice is yours. However, mathematicians are unlikely to take part in such a desperate drama. Those who would may invoke the theory of probability, which is an entirely different proposition altogether. This is an intriguing theme for one such as myself and one I shall return to.

In the meantime, any comments would be welcome. This has been happening a lot lately; I have been waking at strange hours like some git with a guilty conscience. It normally happens when I am in the middle of a long losing run but I actually won a few bob last week so now I am waking up to worry about winning as well as losing! Perhaps I am awake because of my wife — or to be more exact my partner. I could be living with a Yeti, or worse, someone of the same sex.

No, it is a woman. I know that because she was away for a few days the week before last and I slept perfectly well and thought I had gone deaf. Therefore, the last thing I see before going to bed is one middle-aged woman and one rather older one visiting Amsterdam, Nevada and New Zealand in search of the perfect brothel. If you ask me, the presenter of this little gem on Channel 4 seemed to be enjoying her role — which included posing in leather boots and not much else in a window in Winchester of all places, and helping a man relieve himself over the telephone whilst she read from a script all for 70pence — a little bit too much!

I have backed a loser before the week has even started, as I am due at the dentist at 9. It is ostensibly a check-up but I have no doubt they will find something that will mean I will have to back a winner to pay them. But you cannot upset your dentist anymore. If you do, they will strike you off their list and unless you take a holiday in South Africa, your gums will eventually rot and your teeth fall out.

So I shall go and get prodded, cleaned, try to speak with a thingy stuck in my mouth, spit and pay whatever they ask. It strikes me that there is enough going on right now to keep anyone awake. I am thinking of all the injustices being perpetrated. For a start, what is the point of a legal system that keeps contradicting itself? One set of jurors finds Barry George guilty of murder, another sets him free.

His defence? He could not have killed Jill Dando because he was stalking another woman — unnamed and presumably in grave danger if his stalking skills ever lead him to her. Then there is Gordon Brown! A prime minister no one voted for who bites his nails, cannot match his tie and shirt and has a glass eye. He keeps telling us he is the right man for the job, although it is plain to everyone without a glass eye that he is not — unless he is referring to a different job — maybe the president of Haiti.

He has had his year in Number 10 — can we have Tony back now? His only ambition in life seems to be to wear away that little strip of lawn between my path and the pavement that he will insist on cutting across to shove the Racing Post through my letterbox.

There was a time when I used to run down to the shop to pick up the paper, when coincidentally I weighed half a stone less than I do now, but after falling over a hedgehog and cutting my chin one pitch black morning I decided to give that up. This weekend, two fillies that have been comprehensively beaten by Zarkava win Group 1 races, which seems to suggest Zarkava will win the Arc — only she has not done the trip and is not sure to get it.

Neither was bred to stay but of course they did and they won. Today we hit the ground with a bump with racing from Windsor, Ripon and Carlisle. There is something happening at Newton Abbot but no sane person can take that seriously in August! Someone has told me he has a good thing lined up for Tuesday. And I shall have twice as much on it than I should to compensate and it will be ridden by Jamie Spencer and get baulked in its run.

Maybe it will not be that bad. Maybe I will not make it to Tuesday. Driving is top of the list — trying to chat up the opposite sex features highly, as does betting and attempting to write a column. Not guilty on the first two; unfortunately, woefully culpable in the last two cases. I am in Paris: Longchamp to be precise. They run the first — a Listed event — as lunch is served.

Instead, there are discussions concerning the merits of the claret and the beef. I have a glass of wine. It is typically French, that is to say too nice and too cheap by our standards. One glass becomes two, becomes three and thereafter four. I am drowning in grape — sunk, all willpower drained. Paradoxically, he does. The seven-year-old defies the claret, meaning it is time for another glass to clear the head.

Today is all about international racing. The British contribution consists of Flat racing at Ripon. There is also jump racing at Market Rasen and Stratford, featuring horses I have not heard of. It is run-of-the-mill stuff. There is a tip for Florentine Ruler at Ripon. This one does. Needless to say, no-one in our party backs it.

On a topsy-turvy day, despite floppy weather forecasts, it is raining in England but dry in France. Conditions are steamy in Singapore where it is kinda hot to quote Paul Theroux , humid and wet. At the time, those of us that know it all stated the World Cup was sub-standard. That form traversed a quarter of the globe here.

The claret is taking over again…. Back to Longchamp: quoting and translating Sophie Ellis-Bextor, it was not quite Meutre a la Discoteque, more a question of Murder on the Racecourse in the next. In truth, given a poor and over-confident ride today, she looked the best filly but benefitted from carnage up front.

They disqualified whatever was first past the post for hampering another runner, thus allowing Special Duty to win back-to-back Classics. I am turning into Rory Bremner now; a brown horse leads with a brown horse in second place, followed by a darker brown horse etc… Ce la vie!

Siyouni got no run but did not look good enough in any case according to the claret. The first day of the working week is invariably a strange one. Those in racing could argue theirs is a seamless occupation; those of us not constrained by official employment have to make time for ourselves when we can. We enter a new week with a couple of last chances on the horizon.

We witness the dying days of a Labour Government. Nevertheless, their constant sniping at everything means, as a newspaper, they have become the equivalent of the boy that cried wolf. According to the Mail, nothing is right; the world is on the brink of all that is unsavoury.

Cameras penetrated the glass panes of the front door as Samantha planted a kiss loaded with a combination of passion, pride and affection on the cheek of what is likely to be our next prime minister. With eyes closed, one hand round his neck, the other outstretched with fingers delicately about to snap the lock on the door, it could have been a painting by Jack Vettriano.

A touching snapshot before the couple retreated to the privacy of their home with Samantha gently alleviating the weight carried by her tired husband. Some pictures do indeed say a thousand words; this was one of them. Suddenly, after so many years as a Socialist, I find myself wishing them well. If the politics of this country have reached a temporary cul de sac, so has the path to Epsom. The Derby print is fuzzy.

After the victory of Midas Touch yesterday in the Beresford Stakes, more a piece of work than a race, some are redirecting the spotlight towards stablemate St Nicholas Abbey. Lastly, I am always sceptical about Montjeus as he fails to sire robust offspring. Prejudice in racing can be costly, but those of us with an opinion need to tell it as we see it, risking being lynched when wrong There are several reasons why I doubt St Nicholas Abbey will win the Derby.

Firstly, he does not look to have flourished physically since last year. Lean, lightly framed and on the small side, I will be surprised if he can regain his juvenile dominance over Classic rivals. Secondly, he was never moving like a winner at Newmarket in the Guineas where,. The noose hovers but St Nicholas Abbey will not do for me whatever rhetoric I hear from Ballydoyle over the next couple of weeks. We are entering the final phase of the Derby build-up.

This week all eyes will focus on the Dante at York. I think it entirely possible they lack their usual firepower. It could be work by St Nicholas Abbey — against sub-standard rivals — has misled. I understand there is at least one major word for a horse likely to make the Dante line-up — a horse that could shake the market up if he performs as expected.

For now, as with politics, although developments may be nearby in terms of time, resolution stretches into the distance. Given a free hand, I can imagine the few words he might have chosen. Much the same as mine in fact as RUK informed me that tomorrow offered a betting bonanza with the screening of twenty-seven races.

Oh good goody gumdrops! Why, I can hardly wait! Maybe I will call their bluff and turn Saturday into a betting bonanza day. I had planned to cut the grass and tidy up the garage in the morning but now am not so sure. ATR will presumably be inviting me to guess the draw at Ascot and reminding me that Lingfield stages its Classic Trial card. From a betting point of view, Ascot looks awful with its big fields and tricky handicaps.

Lingfield looks as if it might contain a few nuggets. Nothing too clever, but then a winner is a winner and, bogged down by work, I have watched several of those go unbacked this week. Golden Stream looks to be of interest in the first at Lingfield.

Despite a middle-distance pedigree, this seven-furlong trip should suit after running well enough behind subsequent winner Equiano at the Craven meeting. Henry Cecil looks to have the two trials wrapped up. Timepiece and Bullet Train will both appreciate the step up in trip and should prove capable of providing Warren Place with a double.

Those assuming Tranqil Tiger can make it a treble may find the weight concession of a stone to Alianmaar thwarting their plans. This morning we have an awkward situation for all concerned. The losers have to be Labour. Whatever they say, this Government is dead in the water. It seems likely Gordon Brown will attempt to cling to power by his chewed fingertips but there is no way back for him after this defeat. He is the boxer knocked to the canvas three times.

To rise for a fourth is inviting further punishment. The longer he lounges in No. Of the three party leaders, Brown is in the worst position. Even an alliance with the Lib Dems will not guarantee Labour power in the House. If Labour wish to slug it out, they need to replace Brown. If the Lib Dems want to hitch their wagon to a winning team, they need to link with the Tories.

If they prop up a flailing Labour Government thrashing in bubbling waters, the electorate will not forget and possibly not forgive. However, this is the chance for electoral reform, something the Liberals — quite rightly from their perspective — have always hungered after. For their part, Conservatives need to hold their nerve and say as little as possible. I know such action is an anathema for politicians but nothing is likely to blow up in their faces in the short term.

Neither Labour nor the Lib Dems have sufficient firepower. An uneasy alliance with Nick Clegg appears to be their best bet. As for plugging the financial black hole, I have a few suggestions to whosoever is at the helm of this holed ship we sail. Herewith my budget:. Firstly, drastically cut our expenditure on failed foreign ventures.

Afghanistan must be at the top of the list. We must either insist our European partners share the burden of policing the place or withdraw. That should save a chunk. You know those things at the newsagents, bought by those making you late for work. Stop issuing British passports to asylum seekers or other would-be residents in this country. Instead, hand out temporary passports, renewable on a yearly basis at a fixed cost that exceeds the current one.

That will raise further revenue and makes immigrants traceable. Those failing to renew such a document would be here illegally. Raise taxes indirectly. Increase road tax on all vehicles over 2,cc and put ten pence on a bottle of wine and spirits. Smokers will have to bear a similar brunt.

Broadband is ridiculously cheap. Tax it! Sorry, but it is better to give the electorate a choice how they contribute to the Exchequer than rob them at source, often resulting in hardship. Big deal I can hear you say. Shilton then picked up the phone to Betfair to cancel his account. Stopping gambling caused three months of withdrawal symptoms including sleepless nights, mood swings and irritability.

I wanted him so much to overcome it that giving up my career was unquestionable. Each day we went on long walks. She now hopes to return to work in the NHS, and is determined to help other families struggling with gambling. She will meet health minister Nadine Dorries next week to discuss becoming involved in the 14 NHS gambling clinics around the country.

Gambling firms must take their responsibility. We now have a second life. We have disposable income and can go on nice weekends or nice meals. Shilton split from his first wife in They married in and have two sons. Over the past few years we have significantly strengthened our responsible gambling practices, including limit-setting and other tools, and have invested in technology to help us proactively identify and engage with customers who may be at risk.

The Shiltons are supporting the charity Gambling with Lives which was set up by bereaved parents who have lost children to gambling addiction. The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline. Argos AO. Privacy Policy Feedback. Share this article Share.

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Everyone loves something for free, but when it comes to horse racing tips, are free tips worth backing? After all anyone can look in their daily newspaper, stick a pin into a racecard and select a horse to bet on. Losing runs are inevitable, but members are unlikely to continue to subscribe to a service if they consistently make a loss following the bets.

The biggest draw back, in recent years, to the way tips are proofed, is only being able to show results based upon Betfair Starting Price BSP rather than taking into account early prices and the bookmakers Best Odds Guaranteed BOG Prices. This will be run separately from the existing proofing section of Racing-Index. Proofing will be done manually, with results updated from time to time via the blog and a soon to be launched Racing-Index YouTube Channel. In addition to SP and BSP, performance will be shown based on BOG early prices, taking into account recommended staked points and will also be able to include enhanced place terms, bet multiples and ante post bets.

These will be more short term reviews where we evaluate various tipsters, systems, ratings etc. From 23rd December to 1st January inclusive you can access all that Geegeez Gold has to offer, just by registering as a free user. I recognise that not everyone has a website for their service these days, so thought it high time that was reflected in the directory listing side of Racing-Index.

Plenty more channels will be added over the coming days and weeks, but do let us know if you know any good channels you feel should be included. I was listening to the Racing Matters Podcast over the weekend, where they were interviewing, aspiring racing broadcaster, Hannah Baycroft on the subject of starting a racing content YouTube channel. The secret is no longer available only for some.

But also for you, if you dare to take the challenge. Includes unique tips on horse racing, race information and much more. It can help you achieve profit and earn money. In this way, you can build many horses in one plant and increase your profit potential. It has nothing to do with betting, bets, forced landings, double after each loser or unnecessary type. This advisory program aims to bridge the gap between these groups so that they can learn from each other.

Beginners can learn from these professionals to succeed. Usually, you do not receive these types of tips. Just rely on your instincts before implementing this system. It only shows the latest statistics that your system provides based on the facts. It provides tips for hobbyists and experts to give you some good tips on a specific game that you can build.

There are no hidden plans or hidden costs. Everything you get is as easy as possible. You can even check what the informers tell you. Countless and increasingly satisfied users of this service show that this system really works. Working with a Bet Winning Tricks is so precise that the winning horse is unbelievably predicted. Every year you get more of this game formula. With this application, you can pay off debts with solid and reliable tips.

To play and grow slowly and steadily in prosperity. You do not get more today, but at the end of the week, you have more in your bank. You receive a consistent report on the horse racing industry without pleasure and false pride. If you use this application, you certainly receive easy-to-use documentation for a successful program.

This can set the minimum for the month at a time. Finally, Betting Gods recommend a good ethic to with the betting game and earn more. If you are serious about getting regular, long-term profits, you usually use a disciplined and entrepreneurial approach.

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The Football Guru is a professional football tipster that has been operating for over 3 years. Best Football How would you like 2 completely FREE horse racing tips every day from 'actual paid Flash TattoosGambling GamesGambling QuotesCasino Night Betting Gods | Professional Sports Tipsters and Betting Experts. As a pastime, backing horses is rather like going to the gym. Would they be raising tattooed arms and hamburger-sized fists to betting office staff Unfortunately, the village weather guru feels racing has to be doubtful. God bless Clement. All of the horse's vital organs were normal in size except for the heart. For eight months, first as the racing writer for Long Island, N.Y.'s I rarely bet in those days​, but Secretariat was , so I put $10 on his nose. ''Oh my god! his identity tattoo and had discovered a painful abscess about the size of a.