June 25th, 2019 | Ian Carnaby's Racing News

I shall always remember Royal Ascot week 2019. A seventh grandchild arrived on Wednesday morning and 24 hours later I attended the funeral of Terry Geoghan, who managed a betting office in Bath for 30 years and was very popular on both sides of the counter.

He was 67 and lived alone. I suppose, if we did something about every nagging thought, we’d end up in one of those funny coats that do up at the back. But he always answered every e-mail or text and was always suggesting possible dates for a lunchtime session in the Penny on Whiteladies Road in Bristol. He was a £5 punter and so were our mutual friends in the pub but that would still have meant a nice little profit when Pink Gin won at Wincanton many weeks ago. Jim Old blamed himself for running at Lingfield in dreadful ground the time before and when Jim sounds optimistic you need to sit up and take notice.

Anyway, the 11-year-old obliged at 10/1 but not a dicky bird, an e-mail or a text. So I e-mailed Terry and said it didn’t matter if he’d missed it and, by the way, when were we meeting in the Penny? But no answer and it was only recently that we heard he’d been feeling pretty lack-lustre and even asked a friend to put on his ITV Seven and Lotto numbers. His sister went round but it was too late, pneumonia having had the final word.

Small acts of kindness stay with us. Terry was well-read, knew his plays and films and could hold his own in a pretty decent chess school. I once said how much I liked Dudley Sutton, who passed away not so long ago and was probably remembered by many for his role as Tinker in the antiques series Lovejoy. But his career went way back and he was one of the Leather Boys, a biker film that was set in and around the A1 cafe on the North Circular Road, which is there to this day. It was one of the first films to treat homosexuality in a mature, adult way, with a young Rita Tushingham realising that she had embarked upon a doomed relationship. Dudley played one of the bikers, though he wasn’t gay in real life.

Since the Independent went on-line and the tabloid ‘i’ took its place at the newsagents’, obituaries in the latter paper have been brief and to the point. But when I went into the Penny, Terry had a full page from the Times waiting for me. He was simply that sort of person, the sort that makes a mental note and does something about it.

The Horserace Writers and Photographers Association runs a tipping competition split into segments over the year and after the funeral I went and sat by myself in the Botanist to give the third day of Royal Ascot my undivided attention. (Not that that would help anyone pondering the two-year-old races at this meeting.) To cut a long story short, I drew a blank without so much as a shout, Thursday going the way of Wednesday. But you have to tip in every race, double points for a winning nap, and on Tuesday I’d napped Lord Glitters at 14/1 in the Queen Anne for 28 points. On Friday I went for Watch Me (20/1 but not napped) in the Coronation Stakes because she had a poor run through in the Pouliches and I couldn’t quite see why so many experts assumed the Irish 1000 was a better race.

Overall, six winners and 24 losers and a profit of around 33 points. And the point of the story is that this won’t be nearly enough. There are loads of writers I don’t know and one or two of them will have 60 or 70. I readily acknowledge defeat, though it’s fair to say that, given the format, those with little chance after three days are likely to nap horses with few claims on form.

Biggest disappointments over the week? Well, City Light ran poorly in the Diamond Jubilee after finishing second in it last year, while whatever kept Eric Alston’s Maid In India off the track for so long before she won impressively at Haydock almost certainly resurfaced before her abject run at Ayr. I was also disappointed that Blue Mist was an absentee from the Royal Hunt Cup but patience is a virtue, as my mother used to say. During my time in the sherry trade in Jerez I heard Spaniards come up with much the same thing. ‘Todo se alcanza con paciencia’; just the job when you’re on a losing run at Zarzuela.

Actually, my mother had several sayings along ‘glass half full’ lines. ‘Little fish are sweet’ was one of them, generally after a minor pick-up at the bingo, where she sometimes sat next to Benny Hill’s mum, and ‘great oaks from little acorns grow’ was another. She never came up with any sort of time frame, though.

Where was I? Ah yes, key events in a crowded week. I note some bookmakers are offering each-way one-quarter the odds a place on the first five in multi-runner handicaps and sometimes one-fifth the odds the first six. If you think that’s a pointless splitting of hairs, I’d just point out that Gunmetal squeezed into sixth in the Wokingham, having eased out to 12/1. Little fish, etc….

At this time last year, Tony Carroll made hay with Oeil de Tigre and Pour La Victoire. I think his de Vegas Kid, who won tidily at Goodwood on Friday evening, will be the one this time around. He uses apprentices very shrewdly and I wonder if Jessica Cooley will be booked at some stage. She has just finished fourth in a 16-runner Chepstow handicap on Princely, who preferred the flatter track at Salisbury. It’s weak form but Tony Newcombe will find a race for him somewhere. Bath, probably.

That’s the sort of thing I used to tell Terry Geoghan, and he’d smile and make a mental note. Top man, gone too soon.


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