Paul Binfield’s 6 funniest things ever witnessed at a race meeting

Paddy Power’s man on the ground spills the beans.

UTTOXETER, ENGLAND - JUNE 06: At The Races presenter Luke Harvey finds himself in a bin full of water as the Andrew Thornton retirement presentation gets out of hand at Uttoxeter Racecourse on June 06, 2018 in Uttoxeter, United Kingdom. (Photo by Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images)

Comments

1979, Deauville, Lester Piggott

I confess to only being 11 in 1979 and much more into footy than racing then, but I’ve watched the video of ‘The Long Fellow’ taking the phrase ‘share and share alike’ to its boundaries on African Hope in the Grand Prix de Deauville on many occasions.

Lester and French pilot Alain Lequeux on Jeune Loup get very close during the contest and the former loses his whip. Instead of merely accepting the situation, the Englishman decides to take matters into his own hands (literally) and snatches Lequeux’s own whip from his grasp.

Quite what the French seaside track ‘turfistes’ made of Lester’s antics is anybody’s guess, particularly if they had backed Jeune Loup.

Lester and his mount passed the post in second with Lequeux and Jeune Loup third, but the Gallic stewards were none too impressed, switching their positions and ‘awarding’ Lester a 20-day ‘holiday’ for his troubles.

Sometime between 2000 and 2010, Newmarket, Probably Kieren Fallon

Suffolk sorcerer Sir Michael Stoute is a master of his profession at readying a horse for a big race. But Stoute is not quite so at home when approached by members of Her Majesty’s Press corps for his post-race thoughts.

After one Newmarket victory, Stoute was surrounded by eager hacks waiting on his every word and hoping to discover where the victorious animal would turn up at next. The journalists had formed almost a complete circle around him, but an eagle-eyed Stoute had spotted a gap behind him which he was valiantly attempting to back into as a means of escape.

Unfortunately for Stoute, one of the press men had noticed the same evacuation point and before the handler could squeeze through, filled the gap so he could fill his own pages. The trainer grimaced through the next few minutes of his life resembling a caged tiger.

2002, Southwell, Sir AP McCoy

This might not be the funniest thing I’ve ever seen at a meeting, but it was easily the most bizarre and the punter who had £4 on ‘the Champ’ on Family Business in the novices’ chase at 1000-1 in running was certainly laughing.

Novice chasers are not always the safest conveyances to be betting on and after two of the seven combatants fell early, there was a collective groan from most punters at the Nottinghamshire gaff when McCoy’s odds-on charge unseated him at the 10th obstacle.

Amazingly all four of the other runners were stopped for various reasons and, while two of the other riders took the same action as McCoy and remounted, they both unshipped their pilots while McCoy and Family Business were the only finisher.

If arguably the greatest Jumps jockey we’ve ever seen was still competing, this victory wouldn’t be able to happen as horsemen are no longer allowed to remount.

Southwell-jumps-racing

2013, Glorious Goodwood, Kevin Manning

Glorious Goodwood in England clashes with Galway in Ireland and I was at the former while my friend Brendan Duke was saddling a horse called Focussed in a nursery at Galway. I knew that Brendan thought his charge would run well so in between Goodwood races, myself and a couple of friends headed for the betting shop which is under the stands.

The roar we let out when the Intense Focus colt hit the front under Manning over a furlong out was quite impressive for three people and we seemed to be the only ones celebrating as he crossed the line half a length in front.

Someone came up to us afterwards and asked how we’d found Focussed and I replied the trainer is a friend of mine. He shook his head and said: “Yeah of course he f&*king is!” and as he walked away disgustedly, we erupted in laughter.

2016, Aintree, Luke Harvey

Former jockey Luke Harvey, now an ITV racing pundit, was not known for his sprinting ability until the Grand National Meeting in 2016 when he was being interviewed alongside soprano Laura Wright on the BBC.

Harvey, whose biggest win as a rider came on Cool Ground in the 1990 Welsh Grand National, suddenly clocked, as Wright was in full flow, that he was late for a live-on-air slot on Radio 5 Live. He indicated to the presenter that he needed to be elsewhere and then made an unceremonious exit behind the presenter.

But the really amusing thing is the interview is being conducted on a walkway and the only way Harvey can get to his other engagement is by running behind Wright, as she enlightens the audience on Aintree fashion, for at least 50 yards in a smart suit in full view of the watching public.

Eat your heart out Usain Bolt!

2019, Kempton, Rachel Casey (Racing TV broadcaster)

Since time immemorial some owners have attempted to get suggestive names for racehorses past the authorities. The head of the naming department in British racing has even admitted that whenever an application is submitted beginning with the sleepy Eastern county of Norfolk, alarm bells go off.

Unfortunately Casey didn’t know that as I watched Racing TV in the Kempton press room last November. Having received an email, she asked viewers: “What does the team think about the chance of Norfolk ‘n’ Chance in the 6.40 tonight?”

She was met with a wall of silence and dug herself deeper when looking at a list of the runners continuing: “Like where is Norfolk ‘n’ Chance!”

Eventually Casey realised she’d been done up like a kipper and added: “I’ve been absolutely done up here!”