Category Archives: Grand National

Dont let me out of here!

No, dont try and think of a song with that title lol. Its a line from the video song, mind. Which is an extended version of an 80’s synth classic! Confused? You’ll find out at the end of the blog.

In truth, it will be a nice completion of the circle if my last office job was in the Civil Service, because in truth, one of my very first interviews as a 16 year old was that sort of work, just a different ministry. That was for a junior job in the Ministry of Defence, which I didnt get. But anyway…

The only interim element of the Civil Service that I had in the interim, were the very hilarious Yes, Minister, and Yes, Prime Minister on TV. I dont know if that was anything like the Civil Service back then, or not, but I know its not true nowadays. But yes, most will remember the Permanent Secretary, Sir Humphrey Appleby, and wonder if people really acted like that?

In truth, thats the only clue I have to what a Permanent Secretary in a department does, and I’m sure that today, and possibly even then, it was an over exaggeration of the role, anyway. Regardless, I wouldnt expect someone of that importance to notice little old me. Wrong again!

I got back to work on Wednesday, to an email sent on the Tuesday by the lady who did the in person interview with me, that the Permanent Secretary of our department had tweeted about me, and our piece! Wow, just wow! I will probably never meet him, but to know that someone in that position of importance, had noticed the piece about me, wow! Then on Wednesday, my unofficial press officer, Madi, told everyone in our department about the piece, though I know a good number knew before then anyway. Still, if Madi helps to get the message about Transgender people to more people, all kudos to her. I’d better mention someone called Lee at this point, doing his bit on Facebook, or I will get ‘complaints’ during the week lol!

The other comedic touch of the week relates to that big sporting event I mentioned earlier in the week, that happened yesterday, the Grand National. I do my best to study form, find 3 horses I could fancy for the race, and 2 of them fail to finish, and the other was 16th! The comedy moment? The office sweepstake, where I put my hand in a large envelope, pulled out a piece of paper with a horses name on, and got the winner!

Yes, dont let me out of that office until retirement, I love the place too much. Oh, and after tomorrow, I wont be one of the newbies, as a new group start their training tomorrow, and though they probably wont read this, I wish them all well. Oh, and next time they apply for applicants for the grade up from mine, I might well be applying! Oh fine, I plan to. It might be a while, its just happened, but it will happen, I’m sure. There is a plan to let me do some shadowing before then, to see whats involved, which might be handy.

OK, video time. When it comes to synth groups who didnt make it big, and I have no idea why, Ph.D would almost top me list. Jim Diamond did go on to solo success, so maybe that counts, but anyway? This is a super, extended version, and no, before you ask, neither lady is me lol!

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Every loser wins…maybe?

Given this will be my last blog before the big race on Saturday, I will mention here and now that the Grand National is being run at Aintree this Saturday, 8th April. Why do I specify the date, you’ll soon see. The first running of the race I actually remember is the 1966 version, though I may have seen one earlier, thats the first I recall, as it was my first bet, at the age of 8! No, I didnt pay for it, my father did, a big sixpence (2.5p) each way on a horse that I picked because of the name, and nothing more. How things have changed since then, and now the heavy gambler that I am, will pick 3 horses out, and put a pound each way on each of them! Probably know as much about the racing now, as I did then, though there was a period in between when I knew a bit more.

I havent seen every race live since 1966 though. Because I was working in the betting shops in the late 70’s, and again from 1983, I missed seeing the big race during those years, until 1986! Why? Because there were no pictures in the betting shops back then! I know, sounds amazing now, but thats the way it was.

This year actually has a few related milestones, it will be 40 years since Red Rum won his last National, it will be 20 years since the ‘bomb scare’ that caused the race to be run on the Monday. But the event I’m looking back on is an even older milestone than that, going back to 8th April, 1967.

To be fair, there was definitely one horse that most serious punters would have given no glance at, as a possible winner. Perhaps a few shrewdies in the Highlands of Scotland would have backed it because of the name, but no one else would. Indeed, as history tells, neither owner, or trainer of the horse even went to Aintree that day, they thought it would be a waste of time.

In truth, 22 fences passed out of 30, they were right, the horse was still standing, but a very long way behind the leaders. Then history was made, carnage at the smallest fence on the track, and out of all that, one horse from the very rear of the field located a gap in the melee, jumped the fence, and yes, the rest was history. I’m sure, as a few of you already know, that horse was Foinavon. I found some film of the race, for those interested

Many others remounted, and chased after him, but the lead was too great, and the 100/1 no hoper had won the big race! 17 years later, that fence was named after the horse that made it famous!

Its fair to say that with all the changes to the fences in recent years, the race isnt the ferocious test it used to be. Still challenging, but not as hard all the same. So I’m not sure the same will happen again, though a 100/1 shot has won the race again since then, all the same. Who wins it this year? Who knows? But on the 50th anniversary, to the day, of that amazing race, will it be another great turn up?

Oh, that hardened young gambler, well, it took me 4 attempts to back my first winner of the race, and 3 of those were placed on the same horse. Highland Wedding, you can tell my Celtic roots! I have backed a few winners, and a few more placed horse since then, but fine, you will always remember your first winner, I guess?

Right, video time. The blog title gives the song away. Its not the greatest song of all time, but certainly works here!

A National Event

Yes, at the end of this week we get the race that even makes me have my once a year bets, the Grand National. And yes, at the end of this blog, I will give you 3 to avoid, the ones I fancy!

Of course, if you mention the race to most people, and asked them to say one name related to it, the answer would still be Red Rum, despite the fact that it was 40 years ago this year that he first won the race. Since then, we’ve had a void race, a race ran on a Monday due to a bomb scare, and sadly, more than a few fatalities along the way. But along comes that annual institution, and everyone decides they are the shrewdest punter in the world. Not me though, thats for sure lol!

Nowadays, the field has a maximum of 40 runners, and the fences have been tweaked dramatically for safety reasons from when I was young. Mind, nowadays you see the race in colour, wasnt the case for my first few National’s, thats for sure! Yes, I watched the Foinavon race (67) in sheer amazement probably, or as much as a 9 year old could at the time at least!

This year, for the first time in my memory, it wont be shown on the BBC. They now have given up on racing completely, and so the race will be shown on Channel 4 instead. And yes, it will be a crazy day for me at work, thats for sure! Funnily enough, Saturday is the only short day I have left this week, just a standard length day! The next 3 days, you dont want to know! Just dont expect any blogs till Sunday!

Right, the 3 fancy, and therefore I suspect should be avoided at all cost. Big Fella Thanks, Across The Bay, and Balthazar King, just dont say I didnt warn you.

And so to end with another Mersey classic, nothing to do with horse racing

Lull before the storm, before the lull

Given that I work in the sports betting industry, its fair to say that horse racing makes March and April an even more lively period than usual. Mid March brings the Cheltenham Festival, and then of course early April brings the Grand National galloping into sight. So yes, they are the storm in the middle, so what are the two lulls surrounding them? Well, I guess its not hard to work out, its that strange beast called holidays!

Next week sees me using up the last of my holiday for this year (holiday year is April to March), when I get to work a whole one day on Monday, then get the rest of the week off. The following week though will be anything but a rest, as that brings along the Cheltenham Festival for four glorious days of manic gambling. Yes, I’m working some overtime that week too, so feel free to question my sanity lol! One rare event this year, my birthday doesnt fall within the race meeting dates, so I’ve actually got the day off, the Saturday, which will be nice.

Some might be amused to hear that for me at least, another important sporting landmark occurs next week, the start of the Ireland cricket season. No, not at home silly, away in the UAE where the weather will be a lot warmer than here! I’m hoping to get to a match in Ireland at some point this summer, but no idea where, or when at present.

Then things (relatively at least) calm down a bit for a couple of weeks, and then along comes that crazy day known as Grand National Day. Yes, its as crazy in the call centre as it is in the betting shops, believe me!

Then finally, the second lull, the first holiday of the new holiday year, off to Rochester on the 20th April, something to really look forward to. As I say, for March and April, I see both sides of life.

Talking of which, leads me to the video, a very neat tie in. The scary point, this performance is nearly 40 years old, eek!

Is there a big race this week?

Yes, I am being cynical here, I know, and I suspect many others do as well, that this Saturday, the Grand National will be ran at Aintree, as (with the exception of war years) it has been for over 150 years. The most famous historical thing, the name of the first winner was called Lottery, rather apt for said race.

One thing that many may not yet know, is that in this country at least, it will be the last time its covered by the BBC for at least the foreseeable future. No, I’m not going to go into the politics of BBC sports coverage in the last decade, but suffice to say, they have cut back rather dramatically lol!

The first Grand National I still remember is 1967, probably because of events then, more about which shortly. I must have seen them before then, just dont remember them at all. Since then, working in the industry, I’ve seen a few things concerning this race. The void race fiasco, the bomb scare that delayed the race until Monday, and of course, Red Rum and his 3 wins.

No, I’m not going to hand out tips, I dont really follow racing enough for that nowadays to be honest. Probably wont stop me throwing a few pounds at the bookies though lol! Besides which, as mentioned, its all a bit of a lottery anyway, though less so nowadays, with some of the fences tamed somewhat.

The film, no music, just film (in colour!) of that first National I still remember. What can I say, just proves you should never say a horse is out of a race until it actually is!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tls18p0AYjM