Sports betting PR legend GRAHAM SHARPE writes…
I BOOKED a table in the racecourse marquee as a base from which to experience this year’s Derby in the company of several good friends. There were nine of us seated together, and we all enjoyed a fine meal and a glass or two each of the most acceptable wine.
It wasn’t an over-expensive experience as the sport was competitive and enjoyable. However, the racing itself was not quite so memorable as a betting experience for me.
The afternoon began with a two horse hurdles race, with both runners trained by the reigning champion handler, Alyson Malzard. The odds-on one of the pair, Isaac D’Aubrelle duly romped home under champion jockey-elect Fred Tett – a living modern example of the phrase ‘gentleman rider’ – the first of four winners that afternoon which took the seasonal tally of Alyson Malzard, to eighteen for the season, pushing her thirteen clear of nearest challenger, Karl Kukk.
The runner up in the race, Bal Amie, was proof that there is no nepotism going on here as Mrs Malzard’s daughter Victoria, was on board!
By now you will obviously have clocked that this meeting was not at Epsom – it was, in fact, the sixth of nine meetings this season taking place at Les Landes in the Channel Island of Jersey.
The main race of the afternoon was the one which eluded the Malzards – bizarrely enough for this almost permanent champion, she hasn’t added to her current total of Derby winners since 2014 when she sent out her fifth, Rossetti – as Karl Kukk’s 6 year old, Sumatran Tiger, won HER second Jersey Derby. Yes, the Blue Riband event here is open to horses of either sex and of any age from three upwards.
I sent a congratulatory message to the trainer following the Derby triumph – receiving back a revealing note – ‘Unfortunately, I dislocated my shoulder and broke my foot, so I was not there today.’
Adding that the culprit was……..’Sumatran Tiger, but all is forgiven.’
The race, sponsored by ‘CoinShares’ (no idea!) is ever so slightly less valuable than the Epsom Derby – and worth £3000 to the winner. The hurdles race first prize was £2150, with the other three races all at £1780 to the winner.
My own afternoon’s punting was dismal. I narrowed down the contenders for the four races following the hurdles to two in each – and predictably chose the wrong one every time – to the point where even the bookie I invested with – one of the five being kept busy by punters – was expressing sympathy.
Inevitably, the novice punter on our marquee table went through the card.
However, there were some notable links to the mainland, on the day – as the official starter for the races here is a certain respected, charismatic, popular, now retired former jockey – Mattie Batchelor – who took no nonsense from the riders – while the racecourse commentator at the track this season is a certain Derek ‘Big Fella’ Thompson.
Say what you will about Tommo, but he was word-perfect in his commentaries, and completely happy to chat with punters however elderly, youthful, knowledgeable or naive about racing and betting.
Racing has happened in Jersey (and, until very recently, in Guernsey as well), since 1832, only ceasing as a result of the German occupation during the Second World War, during which the grandstand on the then course was used for target practice by German troops.
Racing has also been happening at Jersey’s smaller ‘sister’ island, Guernsey since the same 19th century date, but sadly is currently in abeyance…
There are hopes that it may resume in the not-too-distant future on the track which doubles up for the rest of the year as a golf course.
Oh, yes, you bet they do things differently in the Channel Islands!
Views of authors do not necessarily represent views of Star Sports Bookmakers.