By the time Mr Harwood had decided to sack me in February of 1986 I had already played quite a lot of poker and bet hundreds and hundreds of horses from the age of 17. I know what a good hand is in the former and I knew in suing him I had at least a four jack play so strong was my case. Given that Harwood was a doyen of the local community I thought it best to recruit a solicitor who had never heard of him and was not part of the West Sussex establishment. Yellow Pages, the UK telephone directory, directed me towards a Mr Bobak. The name sounded foreign and indeed he was. A Pole no less. He was my man, and I confirmed that with my first question to him. “ Do you know of a man called Guy Harwood? “ No came the reply. Deal done. The events and current situation explained he was happy to take the case on. As I left his office I had a relative spring in my step that morning in the old Roman town of Chicester.
As legal matters do, the building of the case, the correspondence fired back and forth, first like a flurry of arrows and then the cannons hove into view, took a deal of time. My Jacks came in the shape of: my letter of contract, his jockeys, my work colleagues and the jockeys to whom I was agent. The Queen comes later in the blog and is nothing to do with Harwood. Months later, after I had left Sussex and was back living in the family home in Devon, Mr Bobak called to say that Mr Harwood wanted to call time on the matter and settle with both of us walking away from the case, no money to change hands and no day in court for me. I had had my solicitor subpoena all of the above mentioned gentlemen (Jacks). None of them would have been best pleased as they would have to miss going racing, going about their liveliehoods. I instructed Mr Bobak to go back to Harwood’s solicitor and say No Deal. Also inform the other side that I was about to phone The Sun Newspaper newsdesk that one of the leading trainers of the day would be appearing in Worthing court the following day in a case which could cause him considerable embarrassment. The denoument went like this; the other side capitulated in full, a settlement was offered which I accepted. Having left it until the 11th hour Harwood incurred the costs of not only my solicitor but also the hiring of my counsel and his. My solicitor estimated in total the whole affair cost him 10,000 pounds.
The Queen comes in the shape of the owner of Carlton House, third in this year’s Derby. This is a little black book horse, ie one to be noted very unequivocally. During one of my recent sorties to the racecourse I bumped into a leading member of the Sir Michael Stoute staff. This superbly bred son of that great American racehorse and sire of distinction Street Cry out of Talented, who won the Group 2 Sun Chariot Stakes, finished third in this year’s Derby and a soundly beaten 4th in the Irish Derby. Top owners, and the Queen falls into this category, like to name their potentially best horses with names which reflect high status or are memorable for another reason. It is well known in racing circles that Coolmore magnate Magnier block books bunches of names with the British Horseracing Board in advance. Hence he has a great record of naming his best horses in a manner which does great credit to the horse and the named after. His four time Gold Cup winner was named after the famous Irish poet Yeats, Giants Causeway, Northern Ireland’s most popular attraction is 40,000 interlocking Basalt columns at the seas edge in the very north of the country. It was named a World Heritage site by Unesco in 1986. Giants Causeway was a 5 time Group 1 winner, inclucing the Eclipse, and is making a solid name for himself as a sire.
Carlton House is best known as a mansion in London used as the town residence of The Prince Regent for several decades from 1783. Carlton House the horse first made his mark when romping away with a Newbury maiden by 9 lengths on his second and final outing as a juvenile. He enhanced his growing reputation with some exhilarating work in the lead up to York’s Group 2 Dante Stakes in May of this year and taking the race with aplomb, showing a good turn of foot when doing so. On the back of this he was sent off favourite for the Derby. I can categorically tell you he didn’t really get the 12 furlong middle distance trip. He then went to the Curragh to contest the Irish Derby from which he returned a sick horse. He has had a lengthy break to come right in himself. At the time of writing he is just cantering and not doing any strong work at home. If he runs again this year my contact hopes it will be in a Group 2 which he should take when less than 100% fit. However my man is adamant he will be a real force next season and justify his high status naming. The Eclipse at Sandown and the Juddmonte International at York will be his high summer goals.
This weekend the St Leger is run at Doncaster. I took an ante post position with Sea Moon for my Bluesky clients on the morning of his Great Voltigeur romp to victory by 8 lengths. My clients obtained 7/1 and after winning that afternoon he was promoted to the head of the market at a best priced 6/4. I definitely regard ante post betting in a positive manner and very much part of my armoury in the ongoing battle against the bookies. Information is power. The head of the house of that famous banking firm Rothschild at the time of the Battle Of Waterloo, June 18th 1815, employed pigeon flyers and their pigeons to bring him news of the result of the battle as soon as it was seen by them from a hill overlooking the titanic clash of Napoleon and Duke Of Wellington forces. Rothschild’s moves in London’s stock exchange were watched eagerly and keenly by investors. Rothschild began to sell shares in English companies leading an avalanche of investors to follow suit in the understanding that if he was selling English stock Napoleon must have won the battle and France was top dog in Europe. Once the prices of shares in English stock had plummeted Rothschild employed colleagues to immediately start buying as many of them as they could get their hands on. News of Wellington’s victory came through to London fully 48 hours after Rothschild’s first pigeon had landed. Share prices in English stock soared and Rothschild made millions in today’s monetary terms.
Sea Moon might well win this weekend’s St Leger but he is an out and out galloper whereas his stable companion Carlton House is a top drawer racehorse with a telling change of gear. Bunting and Masked Marvel are big rivals to Sea Moon in my eyes and I might well have a saver on one of them. Next week I will return to the theme of ante post betting and gilded inside information.