Ashforth’s Angles: Racing’s most annoying sayings

Cercle D'Or - Lingfield 14/12/16

Did this race take much winning? It did for David Ashforth

  PICTURE: Ian Headington  

COMPLAINING should be saved up for old age, so here goes. My first complaint is that there isn’t enough room to cover all the things that need to be complained about. What follows is just a small sample. There’ll be a lot more complaints over the next few years, mortality permitting.

Racing is full of daft expressions and I’d like to complain about them. The bigger the field the bigger the certainty. That’s just stupid. It should be, the bigger the field the bigger the uncertainty, especially if it’s one of those big handicaps loved by and therefore often sponsored by bookmakers.

Your money’s only lent. No it isn’t, it’s lost. Have you tried going up to Fred Done and saying, “Fred, you know that money I lent you? Can I have it back please?”

This race won’t take much winning. Yes it will, for the hopeless bunch trying to win it.

Then there are all the irritations that come with entering a modern betting shop. In the past, when your 12-1 selection had just been beaten a short-head (horses didn’t have noses in those days), someone would ask, “Did you back it each-way?” That is like saying to a man who has just lost a leg, “Your other one’s okay though, isn’t it?”

Nowadays customers are too busy to say anything. There are the wretched gaming machines and even when there’s a real horse race to watch every 10 minutes bookmakers still manage to squeeze in an unreal one, one from South Africa and a dog race.

And another thing. There are all those screens but can you see the result after a race? No, because a results screen is not a betting opportunity so the screen quickly displays something that is.

I’m getting into stride now and while I’m complaining, I’d like to complain about the expression, “He’s an absolute legend.” No he isn’t. Just because a horse has won for the fourth time at Fontwell doesn’t make him a legend. Arkle was arguably a legend and King Arthur definitely was but virtually all the horses you hear described as “absolute legends” absolutely aren’t.

When I’m dictator (I’d like to complain at the fact that I’m not) there will be a ban on all sorts of things, including most music played outside the privacy of people’s homes. The 2018 Cheltenham Festival will almost certainly be banned because the 2017 Festival will almost certainly be found guilty of greeting big race winners with a cacophony of sound, drowning out the genuine welcome provided by real fans who are relegated to bystanders by the music.

That has just scratched the surface of my complaints. I’d like to complain that after a certain age you become invisible to women and later, as a result of failing eyesight, they become invisible to you.

I want to complain about the unbearable slowness of people in the queue in front of me and about the insufferable slowness of the horse I’ve just backed.

Good. I feel a bit better now.


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