Good sports writing

Is a joy to find, there’s a lovely piece by the consistently readable (quiet, unassuming insightful) Robin Oakley in the Spectator about trying to scrape a living out of writing and horses. I’m including the end of it here for two reasons, one, for the desperate tale of the poor trainer who manages to not win £33,000 by the length of a short head – for the want of a stride he loses a grand instead. Imagine the pain, and the attendant courage required to go on. This is the sort of story that helps keep S Foster’s pecker up when his Saturday £10 e/w has gone south. The other reason is for the verse at the end, which I like a lot. I don’t know where it’s from. The full piece is here.

The extract:

Anything which puts the irrepressible David Bridgwater in front of the media is to be welcomed. The Stow-on-the-Wold trainer was renowned as a jockey for his all-out effort on every horse, and he shrugged off some fearful injuries to keep going. I am not the squeamish kind but, after seeing the livid scars on his leg and the metal pin popping in and out of one of his joints as he was matter-of-factly making a point about the hazards of the game in Lambourn a few years earlier, I needed a stiff drink — and it was only 10 a.m.

Bridgwater has not exactly been blessed with a parade of top-liners since he took to training and he only handles a dozen horses but, as he says, ‘I may not have trained many great horses but I’ve ridden plenty,’ and so he knows when he has a good one. After Rodi Greene rode his The Giant Bolster to victory in the Timeform Novices Chase, the words came tumbling out as ‘Bridgy’ insisted that he had a horse that could be good enough to win the Gold Cup in a couple of years’ time. First he joked, ‘He was only going for a school round today — bloody jockeys!’ before paying tribute to the ride his horse had been given after falling on his previous appearance.

Then he added, ‘This is a serious horse. It’s all about looking after him now.’ He couldn’t remember a previous Cheltenham winner as a trainer, not surprisingly since there hadn’t been one. But then he doesn’t bring many to Cheltenham: ‘They shouldn’t come here unless they are good enough. I don’t send many. I’m not a social person — I don’t have social runners.’ What he did reveal is that while he is not a gambler he did have £1,000 on The Giant Bolster at 33–1 to win his bumper, in which he was beaten a short head. Same old story really:

The rain it raineth every day
Upon the just and unjust fella.
But more upon the just because
The unjust’s got the just’s umbrella.

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One Response to Good sports writing

  1. makemeadiva says:

    Contrast this David with David Pipe who, at a Cheltenham Preview Night, last week could not remember the names of his horses and flatly refused to discuss the handicap plots…

    Of course we don’t expect the latter, we can work them out for ourselves, but not knowing your horses proves he is nothing more than an overseer on a production line. Your David Bridgwaters are much better for the sport.

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