Sports betting PR legend GRAHAM SHARPE writes…
MY RECENT plea in this column for additional information about two horse-race records I had been given has, I’m happy to tell you, been answered by a gentleman whose has racing references of many kinds, not only printed ones in the shape of books, magazine, racecards, etc, but also some recordings.
Timothy Cox, owner of the greatest library of racing books I have ever been privileged to see and touch, sent me this note which, I agree with him, seems to offer an explanation for who probably acquired these records:
‘Attached are the results of the 1955 Queen Mary Stakes run in July because of the rail strike and the 1956 Cesarewitch.
Two owners had horses in both races: J Olding and Major L B Holliday. J Olding won the Queen Mary with Weeber and came second with Kribi in the Cesarewith. My guess is that Mr Olding wanted a record of his successes.’
That does seem very likely – and I am very grateful to Tim for taking the trouble to check out these references.
Tim adds that: ‘I have a couple of records in my collection. An LP of Sir Peter’s Red Rum commentaries and a two-record set of background sound effects for races from the BBC Sound Department. There is also a racing/gambling game which used vinyl records.’
I’ve offered to donate both of the records to Tim’s archive, probably the finest collection outside of Newmarket – and quite possibly even including Newmarket!
I have also found an unlikely link between rock group Status Quo, and horse racing.
I recently purchased a copy of Status Quo’s ‘Bula Quo’ cd together with a video of the movie of that name that they made, consisting of antics in Hawaii, in which the rockers’ acting is precisely as you would have expected from Mr Parfitt and friends!
Acquiring this item inevitably made me think more closely about the title word, Bula, which was, of course, also the name of the dual Champion Hurdle winner in 1971 and 72…..who was giving trainer Fred Winter his first win in the race.
When I researched the word online the general opinion seemed to be that, in Hawaii: ‘The word (pronounced as boolah) literally means ‘life’ and is most commonly used as a greeting, meaning hello! ‘.
In Spanish, though, Bula means ‘bull’.
This was all particularly of interest to me as I used to follow this brilliant racehorse, one of, if not THE, best hurdlers of his day. Regular readers may have noticed one of my many personal quirks, in that I favour backing jockeys and horses wedded to the tactic of lounging around at the rear end of a race until the final couple of hundred yards, or final fence, when they suddenly roar into contention.
This is much the preferred modus operandi of my go-to jockey, Jamie Spencer, and also of Bula, a horse which I regularly backed way back in the day. Not only did he win a pair of Champion Hurdles, but in total the Irish-born horse won 34 of 51 races. Not only did he, as the 6 year old 15/8 favourite in 1971, lower the colours of one of the greatest of all Champion Hurdlers, the already hat-trick winner of the race, Persian War, by then an 8yo, who still finished runner-up, but always late-finisher Bula and jockey Paul Kelleway, Gaye’s dad, won the race again in in 1972 at 8/11.
He didn’t complete the hat trick, though, despite starting as 5/6 favourite, and now trained by Fred Rimell, he finished out of the frame.
Bula was not, as far as I can ascertain, named after the Hawaiian word discussed earlier, so what its owner, Captain Bill Edwards-Heathcote, thought it meant and why he chose it, assuming the horse was not already named when he bought it as an unbroken three-year-old I have no idea.
The horse’s lad, Vincent Brooks, said about Bula – ‘I used to ride him on his own because he was such a lunatic. He’d gallop off down the road with you for no apparent reason. He was such a stubborn so-and-so but was a Christian in his box and would rather lick, than bite, you.’
Bula proved his versatility by also becoming a top class chaser. finishing 3rd in the 1975 Gold Cup and ultimately won 34 of his 50 races over hurdles and fences.
Timeform paid tribute to the horse when a race named in his honour had its title abruptly changed by the powers-that-be: ‘Jump racing fans tend to be traditionalists by nature, but there was more behind the mass outcry at Cheltenham’s decision to rename the Bula Hurdle (to the International) in 2006 than mere resistance to change. Bula is one of the best horses in National Hunt history and, whilst acknowledging the needs to keep new sponsors happy, the decision seemed at odds with a sport renowned for honouring its former stars.’
In their book ‘A Century of Champions’, John Randall and Tony Morris rated Bula the sixth-best hurdler of them all at 177,just 5 lbs behind the highest rated, Night Nurse. Only Persian War, Monksfield, Comedy of Errors and Istabraq were also rated higher.
The late Julian Wilson featured Bula in his book, ‘The Great Racehorses’, believing that his jockey was the key to the horse’s success: ‘More than once Kelleway’s critics were convinced that the waiting tactics had been overdone, but unfailingly the ice-cool rider had the last laugh.’
Views of authors do not necessarily represent views of Star Sports Bookmakers.