Brendan Duke: During a quiet week of racing, being observant is key

Brendan Duke ruminates on Donald Trump, David Blaine and Riven Light...


Jewellery. Do you notice jewellery?

Obviously if Aidan O’Brien puts first time blinkers on one, we all notice, but that’s not what I’m talking about.

I’m sitting here with a touch of writer’s block. Bad dose. Last week was okay from a punting standpoint. Monday was a blowout but managed to claw my way back and came out winning buttons at the end of it all. Riven Light and Battaash in particular were a joy to behold.

There’s something about really good horses travelling all over pretty good horses that gets the spine all tingly. This weekend we have the Shergar Cup at Ascot and the Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh but I’m struggling to find a bet at either venue. What to write about then? Perhaps, if I noticed jewellery, unblocking would be easier.

Find the latest odds from Ascot and the Curragh over at

In Galway we sat down for dinner beside a man with whom one of my fellow diners was acquainted. Another member of our party noted that he had a 50K Rolex on his wrist. I had shaken hands with the same man and hadn’t noticed any watch. In fact my suspicion was that he didn’t know the time of day.

It was a late dinner in fairness so the watchman may well have enjoyed the hospitality of that fine city all day for all I know. He must be doing something right to have afforded such a timepiece.

Discovering this information got me to thinking. The man was right handed. Luckily for him. If he were left handed and I some class of a budding David Blaine I could, during our handshake, have whipped it off quicker than you could say abracadabra. Just another concern along with inky hands and scissors for us southpaws to deal with. It’s a right handed world and the other 10% of us just have to live in it I suppose.

I returned to Dublin and later in the week was waiting for a train. Again I was not alone. Perhaps this is what I need. If I am constantly in the company of observant people and they can spot what an actual writer should, then I can write about it. Writing by proxy could be the way forward.

Anyway we sat down beside two old ladies. One of them asked if I knew when the next train was due. I pointed above our heads to the electronic sign that said the Howth train was due in 16 minutes. She laughed at her lack of observation. Definitely not a writer, though in her defence she had definitely enjoyed the hospitality of our fine city. Even I couldn’t fail to notice her wine scented breath.

The ice broken we got to chatting. Inevitably Trump came up. She was not a fan. I’m fairly neutral on the guy but like to play devil’s advocate, if only to break out of the echo chamber we seem to live in. ‘Doing a reasonable job of clipping the Chinese wings’ said I. She looked at me mouth agape.

At that moment a skilled sommelier could probably have named the wine she had consumed. She had no time for his tariffs and felt Iran and North Korea were laughing at him. She also suggested I move to the American midwest with all the other idiots. 16 minutes passed in no time and as we rose to jump aboard she said ‘lovely to meet you’.

Wine eh. Even Trump can’t curb the warm fuzzy feeling it gives. On the train my travelling companion asked me if I noticed the old ladies’ rings. You won’t be shocked to hear I couldn’t remember whether she had hands or not. Apparently there were a number of them and they were of the expensive variety. So this is where we are. I’ve booked some companions for this week and might have something to say next time.

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What do you think?