Betty Grable still a star to some of us

June 4th, 2019 | Ian Carnaby's Racing News Ian Carnaby's Sports News

I never really thought of 70 as a special landmark and maybe everything that’s happened is mere coincidence, though you’d have to say a pacemaker followed by the loss of work at both the Irish Field and the Racing Post is quite a win treble. I’ll find something else to do, if the form book is any guide, though I haven’t worked out what it is yet.

They were quite fond of me in Paraguay when I sold things, graphic arts materials especially, but age may come into it. I liked Bolivia, too, and bump-started someone’s car in the countryside close to La Paz airport. Got it into second gear and away it went with a cheery wave and ‘Hombre, gracias!’ borne back on the wind. La Paz is quite high up, though, and there was a slight pain in my chest afterwards. I  remember thinking that no one dies in Bolivia, apart from Bolivians, obviously, cemeteries full of them, but then I remembered Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and perked up a bit.

I can’t imagine there will be a flow of winners to offset any financial hardship but I was in wonderful form at Goodwood the other Saturday, tipping the last six winners in my friend George Materna’s box. There were quite a few favourites among them but the high spot came with the nap Mr Lupton, who was running in the sprint before the Irish 2000 Guineas at the Curragh. George, a very generous man, puts up £100 for a charity bet and, being a great Richard Fahey fan, I went for Mr Lupton, who won nicely at 5/1. He was cheered to the echo in the box and George wrote out a cheque for £600 when cancer research came out of the hat, everyone around the table having chosen a good cause.

Of course, nothing like that will ever happen again, not to me anyway, and it’s only on the long drive home that you think about five-timers and all six   –  or all seven, actually  –  which is quite silly when you’ve never been one for accumulators and the like.

I gave up mentioning ‘luck’, ‘bad luck’ and ‘if’ many years ago. The results are in the paper and you’re either paid out or you’re not. But as a gambler, I do believe in certain other things. Most of the horses you back when you know the value has gone (or never existed) will be beaten and the thing that people call luck tends to go in streaks. There is a moment in the casino when a setback indicates it will not be a winning night. You started with £300, it went up to £800 and now it stands at £400. A slight, almost pathetic profit at 1am but a useful sum on the bedside table when you wake up the following morning. So it’s the desire to get back to £800 or the eight £50 notes as balm for your lack of sleep and troubled dreams. Needless to say, desire is a very short price with a Rule 4 to follow because sleep may not even make it to the start.

Recognising a streak and making it pay are two different things, of course. I hadn’t seen one of my favourite betting opportunities, which involves a claiming rider winning an apprentices’ race and then getting up on the same horse against senior jockeys, for quite a while. But at Hamilton last week the charmingly-named Betty Grable went in again for Rhona Pindar, who could claim 5lb at Ayr the time before but 7lb here.

Rhona even outpointed Joe Fanning in a tight finish, Betty Grable being doubly well in because she wasn’t penalised. The only problem was that she was 15/8 on the morning tissue and my various concerns meant I missed the 3/1 nearer post time. Heigh ho. It’s a very good system but there are only five or six examples each season. Don’t miss them.

I shall miss writing a column for the Racing Post but newspapers are struggling now and cuts have to be made. There aren’t enough new young people prepared to pay £3.20 for a specialist publication and in any case racing is not necessarily their chosen betting medium, as we know from the welter of tiresome bookmaker advertisements on television  –  ‘enough to sicken a pig raised on barbed wire and nails’. I wish I’d thought of that but it happens to be one of Raymond Chandler’s.

Someone asked me if I thought the huge bonus Denise Coates of bet365 paid herself was obscene. No, I don’t think it’s obscene. She’s only as obsessed with the whole profit cycle and the way money works as I am with sitting outside La Regata in Southampton and watching the Red Funnel steamers come and go. I just think it’s rather sad, because it underlines how many truly useless punters and potential suckers there must be out there. No wonder the betting firms are falling over themselves to get them signed up.

Anyway, after recent developments let’s hope my own mini-streak lasts a little longer. Watching the French Open yesterday, I’d never seen Johanna Konta play as well as she did against Donna Vekic in reaching the quarter-finals. There she meets Sloane Stephens, who is unreliable (not Timeform ‘squiggle’ material, but ‘not entirely straightforward’ either). I like Stephens very much. She adores Paris and easily dismissed Garbine Muguruza but a determined Konta will get to her sooner or later. For Johanna it all depends on starting as she means to go on. She is odds against and that is value. There is a steely determination about her at present and she is no forlorn hope for the title itself. Backing her now means you could insure on the big day, which would be the right move.