Sunday, May 01, 2011

In a nutshell...

Those lucky enough to be at Newmarket yesterday saw something exceptional when Frankel demolished his field to win the 2011 2000 Guineas by six lengths; the crowd's applause commenced with two furlongs still to race. Earlier this afternoon Dettori rode 16/1 chance Blue Bunting to victory for the 'Boys in Blue' in the 1000 Guineas.

Today marks the fiftieth anniversary of the legalisation of UK betting shops. The spartan establishments those of us of a particular age used to frequent in the mid sixites bear no resemblance to our modern shops. Sound only commentaries, betting shop tax, it was something of a 'guilty pleasure'. Some complain the prevalence of Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) threaten to turn today's shops into glorified amusement arcades, yet in 2008 these machines became the first product to earn more for Ladbrokes than horse racing. Money talks, as they say.

All that contrasts markedly with the tales of chicanery and criminality I'm currently reading about in Nicholas Foulkes' excellent book 'Gentlemen and Blackguards: Gambling Mania and the Plot to Steal the Derby of 1844'; the paperback version is due to be released on May 26th.

The Punchestown Festival starts on Tuesday - latest declarations here. I've blogged selected races from this meeting in the past but due to commitments can't this year (probably something of a blessing!) Where possible, I'll post some selections...

A final footnote on the royal wedding... One of the troopers from the Household Cavalry was thrown from his mount as the wedding procession made its winding way from the Abbey back to Buckingham Palace. The thoroughbred sped past the newly-married couple and headed for Hyde Park barracks where it was caught; rumours that Her Majesty is considering supplementing the beast for this year's Derby are apparently wide of the mark.

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