Good morning all,
It's been tough weekend, as one of my oldest friends, Peter, is in hospital after a fall (I'm off to visit this morning) and sadly, we lost Richard, Daren's dad, one of the funniest and most lovely of people, after illness. I'm sure no-one will mind me saying a few personal words this morning about a bloke that loved life and loved his racing.
Plus today's selection from Southwell.
I first met Richard (Dick to his friends) when I got involved with the Stevie Stretch firm a couple of years ago. Richard, who up to that point was working with Daren on the joint, was getting on in age and Daren decided that he didn't particularly want his dad going out in all weathers at his age, quite rightly so. Much as he was still enjoying his racing, he found the days a bit longer and colder and so I was drafted in to help on a few days.
The first time he spoke to me was when I got in the back of Daren's car, picked up on the way to Southwell to work. Richard was sat in the front.
“So you're the bloke that's kicking me off the firm then?” Well, what do you say to that? I meekly replied I was. “Well, I reckon you'll be no bloody good. You'll be off this firm in a week, mate.” I said nothing. What could you say? Then he burst out laughing, said I'd be absolutely fine and I suddenly realised he was even more sarcastic and deadpan than I was. I knew we'd get on fine from that moment, and we did.
He'd always enjoyed his racing, and only at the weekend when Daren was talking to one of his friends, did we find out that he (and Dave, his mate) frequently bunked off work to go racing as young men! He was a rep (for Colemans Mustard, he was from the Norfolk area) and travelled around the country – so would phone in to say he was on appointments when in truth he and Dave were off racing somewhere!
Richard would go racing with us whenever he could, we'd take his chair and he'd sit down around the back of the joint or on colder days, inside with his mates. He'd frequently berate me about my lack of winners when I was on a bad run – “you're bloody rubbish, mate” – and when I had a winner, with that deadpan delivery, he'd just say. “You're a bloody crook. That's what you are, mate. A crook.”
He'd sometimes text me, often just to berate me further, but usually he'd ask for my “mug tip” for the day. I once asked him if he had a computer, so he could read the Punt every day. He looked confused at this. “No, I haven't got a computer, ” he replied, before adding brightly “but, I've got a clock..!”. Technology often confused him – in more recent times, he'd still text me but somehow he'd managed to change his phone settings so I was getting words with German or French punctuation. Cedillas, umlauts, Eszetts (the German double S), the lot. He'd no idea how he'd done it.
As old age and illness sadly came, he took to walking with a stick, which merely gave him a weapon to start waving at me when things went wrong. “You're on the machine today, are you? You're bloody rubbish, we'll lose” and then smack the joint with his stick to emphasise the point. The number of times he told me, after a losing day, “You will never work for this firm again,” only for me to buy him an ice-cream and him change his mind “You're now back on the firm, well done Dave” I lost count of. He will be missed by many at Southwell who knew him well.
That was taken at Stratford last year, he's aftertiming another winner!
On to today, and upped in trip and on handicap debut it might be time for Powerstown Park to step up to the plate. I had him a lot nearer the front of the market than he is, having shown a bit of ability a couple of times and he was spotted finishing his race off nicely at Warwick last time. Sam Thomas is going under the bookmakers radars at the moment but he clearly knows what he's doing (was good to see his Not a Role Model win at Kempton yesterday after his strong mention on the Punt after Stratford) and this race really does lo0k there for the winning. Worth a go at the price.
Today's selection – Powerstown Park 7.00 Southwell
Good luck with all your bets today,