More power to Tyrone and his magic carpet ride

July 19th, 2021 | Ian Carnaby's Racing News

Modern technology has influenced many things, one of them being the traditional pub quiz. It must be very tempting to cheat when a mobile ‘phone is only inches away, though shame and disgrace may follow.

Of course, a mobile helps only with simple, one-word answers. You might just about get away with ‘How many South American countries share a border with Brazil?’ but ‘What connects Matthew Le Tissier, Tyrone Mings and Benny Hill?’ would take far too long. As for ‘What is the link between Dr Frasier Crane and a popular Bristol City left-winger?’ you’d start imagining various political connections because what could the good doctor possibly know about football?

I was mulling this over in the Failand Inn (a very minor clue) the other lunchtime after a Frasier repeat on C4, the one where his dad Marty says: “Whatever you’re obsessed about, don’t keep bothering someone who doesn’t give a rat’s ass”.

It’s sound advice; a little blunt, perhaps, but sound. It takes a while to get over missing a 33/1 winner but wandering around for a while and having a couple of beers is better than giving chapter and verse to some poor soul who merely asked after your health.

The Failand Inn just outside Bristol is surprisingly quiet in the afternoons, apart from a few senior citizens. More of a restaurant these days, it’s hard to believe it was once thought of as a racing pub.

Of course, Richard Holder died and Pat Murphy moved away so we no longer have any stable staff to liven things up. Richard had a horse called Failand who won an amateur riders’ race at Chepstow but seemed to be going downhill fairly rapidly for Roy Brotherton, especially when he finished sixteenth of 19 in a Ludlow selling hurdle. Loyalists gave up just before he reverted to the flat and won a mile seller at Windsor at 33/1. The atmosphere in the Failand was fairly subdued after that, as I recall, though there were one or two jocular references to Clifton Suspension Bridge.

A pure agnostic, sympathetic to all beliefs but mindful of the fact that faith has a few lengths to make up on proof, or the lack of it, I can’t quite go along with the notion that someone up there, someone who was close to us down here, is nodding approval when we burst upon the scene and, against all odds, clock 9.3 seconds for the 100m or shatter our personal best in the high jump. Let’s be honest, if we really believed there are people up there watching our every move we’d be absolutely panic stricken. Mind you, the faint possibility of several million saintly voyeurs, some of them making clear their preference for classical literature over athletics, conjures up some interesting pictures. Like Moliere having a good old laugh when I missed Colin Davies’ Tartuffe at 33/1 on his hurdling debut in the late 1960s.

It was a tricky situation because I was the wrong side of the counter, working a holiday shift at Ladbrokes on the day in question. When my mother came into the shop my fairly frantic signals failed to register, which made the outcome of the old ‘blower’ commentary a formality. I thought there might be a few words of sympathy afterwards. “You’d soon have spent it”, she said.

As a schoolboy I managed to back John Meacock’s 33/1 winner Karkeh Rud at Windsor and, more recently, Ruths Pride in a very poor novices’ hurdle at Stratford. She was owned and trained by Gordon Price and ridden by Mr Richard Davis, later tragically killed in a truly appalling fall at Southwell. Ruths Pride’s dam was Ruths Image, by Grey Love, who also sired Grey Dove and was therefore instrumental in setting the famous ‘Dove’ dynasty in motion.

33/1, now popularly termed ‘double carpet’ thanks to John McCririck, has lost some of its magic with the coming of betting exchanges, which offer exotic prices to modest stakes. But I must say I was recently reminded of the good old days when Guilded went clear on the far side in the multi-runner Weatherbys Super Sprint at Newbury. Success would have mended a few fences chez Carnaby, and not just in the garden, but those finishing fast up the centre relegated her to fourth close home. Mercifully the bookmakers paid out on the first four in a 22-runner non-handicap.

Time for a pint in the Failand. It has no racing connections now, and few if any customers remember Richard Holder and the party which went on all night following Ikdam’s triumph in, yes, the Triumph Hurdle. Double double-carpet at 66/1, too, come to think of it. 1989 also saw Desert Orchid win the Gold Cup and Alan Walsh, Bristol City’s popular and talented outside-left, join Besiktas in Turkey. He later retired to the Failand area, however, his daughter Kayte, a flight attendant, marrying Frasier, or Kelsey Grammer, a decade or so ago.

The link between Le Tissier, Mings and Benny Hill is Eastleigh. Southampton’s talisman was essentially a one-club man but did turn out for Eastleigh when his career at the Dell finally came to an end. Mings, who could justifiably lay claim to being the most improved defender English football has ever seen, had a short trial for Eastleigh (including a friendly against the Falkland Islands) when Southampton let him go at 16. He later played for Yate Town and Chippenham before progressing to Ipswich and Bournemouth, then Aston Villa and England.

After leaving school early, Benny Hill worked for Hanns Dairy in Eastleigh, a spell which inspired his number one hit Ernie, The Fastest Milkman in the West.

Ten South American countries share a border with Brazil. It’s easy enough to check, though you may need a bigger screen on your mobile.