Final part of my racing life to date. Suggestions on what to write about next week more than welcome!
So I’m doing great. I’m racing most days, writing for myself and my stuff is really starting to take off on Twitter. I’ve made a few new friends through it too, and meet my now very good friend Rory Delargy at Cheltenham in 2015, which is also the first time I ever attend all four days of the Cheltenham Festival. I’ve been asked by a local community radio station to cover some work for them, along with another of my great friends in Cathryn Fry, so not only do I get to go, but I get a media pass as well. Talk about a kid at Christmas. Since then I’ve been lucky enough to get one every year, and I always have to give my head a shake to remind myself how lucky I am.
I also started doing a few stints on William Hill Radio and am invited to join the naps table. At the fourth attempt I win it, showing a very healthy level stakes profit for the six months. My prize is a grand, which we promptly blow on a holiday. Sadly it never worked out for me at Hills, and my work days dwindled away, at which point I decided to leave.
I’m also invited on to a new project that excites me callled Bet Racing Nation, the brainchild of Peter Finch. Peter basically has the idea of a “for the punters, by the punters” TV program and although we have our production issues, it is well received and after a few programs, we get our own slot on Sky, after the Polish football highlights on a Saturday morning. Peter uses me not only for studio punditry but a bit of out-and-about stuff as well, reporting from the tracks with up-to-date info and the like. It works well, and gives plenty of us lesser pundits our first big telly break. I like the program because we don’t just concentrate on the big Saturday meeting – everything gets a look in, and my knowledge of the low-grade stuff comes in handy.
Peter’s main idea of not using the bookmakers to sponsor the program is one we all agree with, as it means we are free to criticise their practices, but sadly no-one else steps up to sponsor us, despite a few making initial promising noises, and as such we are all just working for exposure and expenses. In the end Peter has to break and Betfred step in to sponsor us on a program-by-program basis. There’s still not a lot of money around though, certainly not enough for us all, and in the end, it has to fold. Not before it has had it’s moments however, and my putting up of Coneygree as one to follow, long before anyone else has even given him a second thought, is a proud moment for me.
I still think there is room for a program of this nature, by the way. Every now and then Catherine, Jack (Milner, now of Unibet, formerly of Bet Victor) and I bandy the idea around a bit but like everything, it will need funding. And that’s where it falls down, sadly. If anyone has a big pile of cash they’d like to invest, get in touch.
I’m now writing a few Sporting Life racecards every month, which I enjoy doing as it really gives you a chance to dig deep into a meeting. I love doing cards where I’m actually going the next day – if you’re fully armed with the form, and you’re there paddockside, the two together should give you a big advantage. I use the paddock a lot more than I ever used to, and I’m still learning plenty in that regard.
What else? Well, I help ghost write a weekly tipping column (have signed a non-disclosure agreement, can’t tell you who…), pop up twice a year on Radio Derby (Grand National/Cheltenham), do a few boxes at racecourses when required, and of course, write the Punt! I enjoy all the work I do, from working on the tracks to writing at home, and every day brings a new challenge.
Whether this virus means that, once again, there will have to be a change of tack somewhere down the line remains to be seen. Hopefully we can get racing again sooner rather than later. We will see.