Mike Deasy on an irreplaceable loss, no wonder the tips are free, the Sunday Times shines in a dearth of racing coverage, and a touch of Tommoballs
Little more than a week after racing was celebrating Rachel Blackmore’s historic success in the Grand National, the sport was having to cope with the saddest and darkest news it has to endure.
The death of Lorna Brooke following a heavy fall at Taunton earlier in the month reminded us all of the risks jockeys take in providing our sporting entertainment.
We’ll hear that she loved what she did and she can most certainly be remembered as a hugely enthusiastic rider. She rode once in the 2001/02 season but five years later her rides were in double figures and she had her first winner, one of two in the 2007/08 season, with a dozen more to follow.
In the last five seasons she had a winning strike rate of 5% but had over 20 placed horses.
But then tragedy struck when the 10-year-old Orchestrated, trained by her mother Lady Susan Brooke, fell at the third fence in a 2m7f chase at Taunton. For Brooke it was a nasty fall and, after on-course medical attention, she was airlifted to a Bristol hospital where she was put into an induced coma.
She died 11 days later, aged 37.
Racing has lost one of its own. Her family has lost someone irreplaceable.
No wonder it’s free
Saturday’s racing pull-outs included prominent ads from a service called Reachforms with the headline “Get brilliant free betting tips straight into your inbox.”
Clicking on the link to sign up to the service, the landing page said “Get our tips for Aintree and the National”. Just a week too late, unfortunately.
Flutter checking out on Oddschecker
Flutter, the company which owns Betfair, Paddy Power and SkyBet, is on the lookout for a buyer for its odds comparison site Oddschecker.
The investment banker Moelis has been charged with the task of searching for a buyer and a disposal could net Flutter in the region of £150m, a tidy sum to help finance the businesses’ expansion in the North America.
The potential sale also calls into question other parts of the business which could be deemed non-core, such as Timeform and Sporting Life, as CEO Peter Jackson has a stated strategy to concentrate of core activities.
Never on a Sunday, well hardly ever
The Sunday newspapers have an ambivalent attitude to racing, possibly because what’s on offer isn’t of the highest quality, and the column inches are (sometimes) devoted to a report from Saturday’s action, and the bare essentials included in the racecards, if racecards are published.
The weekend just gone, with quality sport at Ayr and Newbury, did not bring about a change.
The usual Saturday pull-outs went big on previews, tips and colour racecards so there was little chance of Sunday’s papers duplicating the same content.
The Sunday Times did however offer duplication. The early (online) edition duplicated Rob Wright’s selections for Saturday’s racing. These were then deleted in an updated edition to leave no selections at all, before a third update finally saw Sunday’s selections posted.
The Sunday Times redeemed itself however with two racing features.
In the wake of Rachel Blackmore smashing the glass ceiling, sports reporter and feature writer Rebecca Myers (pictured) asked who in other sports can follow.
With regard to the increasing success of female jockeys, Myers spoke to Dr George Wilson, an exercise physiologist at Liverpool John Moores University, who said:
“I think it’s female jockeys who have the advantage. The reason being that they generally don’t have to make weight by using archaic dehydration practices which have been shown in my research to reduce physical performance”.
Chief sports writer David Walsh tackled the debate as to how Irish horses have been hoovering up Britain’s top races at Cheltenham and Aintree at the expense of British-trained runners.
It’s nice to have a chief sports writer devoting a column to racing let alone one on such a technical topic. Indeed, it was worthy of the Racing Post and quite a lot of quotes were sourced from racing’s daily. Trouble was, must arguments for what has caused the Irish domination were either debunked or contradicted.
Nevertheless, it was good to see a thought-provoking piece on the turf that will have given the racing fraternity something to think about.
Given how much racing there is on TV it’s surprising there aren’t more entries in Private Eye’s Commentatorballs feature, so well done Derek Thompson for this gem:
“He’s had a little peek through his legs and likes what he sees”