- Lifestyle & Sports
- 16 Apr 01
MY FAVOURITE sportswriter at the moment is a genius who contributes to the Leopardstown Racecard. I do not know who he or she is, but at the recent post-Xmas punting orgy, I was frequently lost in admiration at the dexterity of language and subtlety of meaning deployed by this singular scribe.
MY FAVOURITE sportswriter at the moment is a genius who contributes to the Leopardstown Racecard.
I do not know who he or she is, but at the recent post-Xmas punting orgy, I was frequently lost in admiration at the dexterity of language and subtlety of meaning deployed by this singular scribe.
Basically, this person is a tipster, who attempts to sum up the prospects of each runner in one succinct sentence, and occasionally two.
Historically, the tipster’s working life is fraught with peril. It is injudicious to be over-enthusiastic about your fancy, lest you look like a particular idiot when it all goes horribly wrong. Similarly, it is unwise to completely rubbish the chances of even the lowliest plonker, for the same face-saving purposes.
Thus, the prose of the racing tipster must be constantly pitched somewhere between caution and confidence, an extremely delicate balancing act necessitated by the fact that your readers are putting their money where your mouth is.
In the Leopardstown Racecard, I believe that this art has reached its apotheosis. Never have so many elegant phrases been crafted to convey the message that this nag doesn’t have a fucking chance.
Let us count the ways . . .
Difficult to fancy on latest showing. Translation: The dingbat owner just wanted a day out.
Never a factor on latest outing. Translation: Shortly to feature on the menu in a French restaurant.
Latest Hurdle form would not impress. Translation: This one will need a rocket up its ass to finish in the first ten.
Needs to step up on latest showings. Translation: If you’re thinking of backing this one, I can refer you to a reliable psychiatrist.
Off for some time. May need a longer trip. Translation: What the fuck is he doing here? The longer trip he needs is to the dog food factory.
Never runs a bad race, but may find it difficult to succeed. Translation: I wouldn’t touch it with a bargepole, but if you’re feeling a bit jarred, you might throw a fiver on it. Don’t blame me.
Does not appear a big threat. Translation: You’ll notice this one running backwards after four furlongs.
A lot to find on latest endeavours. Translation: They’re just keeping him in trim for the glue factory.
Form figures not very enticing. Translation: The owner likes to stand in the parade-ring and pretend that he’s Sheikh Muhammad.
Does not appear the answer to this problem. Translation: There are a lot of very dodgy animals in this field, but this fellow is the donkey supreme.
Won here before. Betting will be best indicator to chance. Translation: The trainer is a major crook whose horses only win when he has twenty grand on the nose. Otherwise, forget it.
Has a lot to find to win. Translation: If you entered the race yourself, you’d probably find yourself passing this fellow out at the home turn.
Has not got very impressive form figures to date. Translation: What’s the fucking point?
Needs to improve a fair bit on achievements so far. Translation: His biggest “achievement” has been postponing that trip to the knacker’s yard.
Last two runs would not encourage support. Translation: The trainer might be holding him back. But he’s probably just past it.
Latest run most disappointing. Has a lot to contend with here. Translation: Totally out of its depth. Owner wants the day out.
Pulled up at Navan. Needs to be at his best here. Translation: You could either put a fiver on this one, or set fire to it for a bit of amusement. It’s all the same, really.
Has not run over hurdles for some time. Made little impact then. Translation: They’re feeding the fucker so they might as well make him earn his oats.
Not showing any great form of date. Translation: If you like the jockey’s colours, and you haven’t much sense, it might be worth a 20p bet. Alternatively, you could put a few bob on the likelihood of hell freezing over.
And so it goes, on and on, this superb wordsmith letting you know the score without offending the sensibilities of owners or trainers who may be under the impression that their little darling is the logical successor to Desert Orchid.
A horse-box full of Attorneys-General would be hard pressed to devise such ingenious formulae.
The Booker Prize, and certainly the Bookie’s Prize, awaits this scribe.
- Lifestyle & Sports
- 11 Jan 18