Sports betting PR legend GRAHAM SHARPE writes…
IT IS AN arresting record, as you’d expect – I was listening to the first LP by The Police, ‘Outlandos D’Amour’ from 1978 which included the track ‘Hole In My Life’.
Wondering what that ‘hole’ might be, I thought perhaps this was why the group’s lead singer, Sting, had become a racehorse owner.
I was able to arrange an interview with him, via his record company, in which he explained to me how he had, as he put it, ‘stumbled’ into the world of racing; ‘I had six Irish builders in my house, and we got talking – ‘Sting’, they said, what you need with all your money, is a whole string of racehorses.’
It just happened, they told him that ‘one of them had a horse called Sweetcal, so Jerry Reilly and I went into partnership. What they hadn’t told me was that Sweetcal also pulled a milk cart! She wasn’t very good.’
That was a harsh assessment – as she won races at 14/1 and 33/1, and this encouraged Sting – who is also a keen rider – to have his black and yellow racing colours carried by several other horses including the useful Sandalay.
‘I always back my horses’ he told me, ‘I thing it’s in good faith to do so. I always back them to win a reasonable amount. But I don’t gamble outside of racing – I’m not a gambling man.’
Sting maintained his racing interests, and in March 2010 he performed at one of the feature days of the Dubai Racing Carnival.
I own most Police records, but must admit I’m not over keen on his solo records – maybe they’ve suffered from his withdrawal from racehorse ownership!
But that hasn’t stopped me visiting ‘Second Scene’ ,my favourite record shop, to buy all manner of vinyl delights. It is run by the welcoming and very friendly couple, Julian and Helen, whose only obvious fault is that the male member of the pair supports Watford FC.
As a vinyl addict I am a regular visitor, and am very used to Julian greeting me with the words, ‘I’ve found something you’ll really like’ before producing an invariably slightly battered LP cover, containing some incredibly obscure music, recorded back in the mid to late 1960s, at the height of the psychedelic era, which sold possibly 83 copies when it was originally released. But for which, he absolutely knows, I will be extremely happy to hand over an outrageous amount of money for the bragging rights which will come with owning such a collector’s item.
I know my fellow columnist Simon Nott will understand this phenomenon very well – but when I walked into Julian’s shop recently the two records he told me he’d saved for me came as something of a surprise, and have since become a small mystery.
For when I took the two discs out of the Friday, November 9, 1973 copy of the Harrow Observer newspaper in which they were wrapped – it was to reveal two records, whose titles appeared to be ‘Queen Mary Stakes, 1955’ and ‘Cesarewitch, 1956’ – which, of course, are both names of well established horse races.
They are both recorded on 78rpm records made of what appears to be shellac, rather than today’s conventional vinyl, which makes them rather more fragile than today’s LPs. One was produced by a company called New Process Recordings Ltd, the other just has P R O Sound Unit printed on one side.
I looked up the two races in question, imagining initially that these discs were likely to have been handed over to winning connections as a souvenir of their triumph.
The Cesarewitch, first run in 1839, in October, 1956 was run as usual at Newmarket over 2m2f and was won by 20/1 shot, Prelone, ridden by Eddie Hide, trained by his father William Hide, and owned by A Allen.
Turning to the June, 1955 Group 3 Queen Mary Stakes (founded in 1921) at Ascot, the winner was 10/1 chance, Weeber, ridden by Scobie Breasley for trainer Major Peter Nelson, owned by J Olding.
So, not really any obvious link between the two races, jockeys, trainers or owners.
I have come across the odd racing and betting themed records, and own one LP which consists of the thoughts of Peter O’Sullevan.
In 1979 the record company, Island, were very keen on the chances of a single they were releasing hitting the top of the charts, so their public relations people approached me, to place a four figure sum with the company for which I was then working, that it would do so. Included on the picture cover of copies of the record, was an image of a betting slip bearing the legend ‘2/1 I Bet Ya’ – which was the title of the disc, by the group, named US of A.
I don’t think it even made the top 100, let alone Number One. If you’d like to hear the track there’s one for sale for £1.99 listed on Discogs!
Views of authors do not necessarily represent views of Star Sports Bookmakers.