Robin Oakley

The Turf | 20 June 2009

Joy of a flutter

Newmarket trainer William Haggas should be one of racing’s ambassadors to the world. Win or lose he communicates pleasure. Take Triple Aspect’s victory at Sandown on Saturday in the Agfa Listed sprint. ‘He’s a really scrubby little thing and he moved to post like a goat,’ declared the candid trainer. ‘But he’s really genuine and that was a hell of a performance.’

William used to train the second horse Jargelle, said jockey Liam Jones. ‘She’s a very good filly. We won the Supersprint with her and the scorching pace she set played into my hands.’ Triple Aspect is a heart failure horse for connections. He can’t go the early pace. But he finishes his races well and they don’t give you prizes for your possy after two furlongs. Triple Aspect has now won four from five. On firm ground, stick with him.

Triple Aspect is owned by gambler Harry Findlay. Had William encouraged Harry to back him? Silly question. ‘Harry doesn’t need any encouragement.’

Racing needs gamblers and three recently published books convey the pleasures of the flutter in very different ways. Michael Church’s Black Horse Red Dog (Highdown, £14.99) rambles gently through the gambling misadventures of his bunch of slightly dodgy relatives, a 1950s world of gypsy tips for the Derby, uncollected football pools coupons, mysterious legacies and getting the money on for a good thing coming out of Staff Ingham’s yard. The young Church, regularly in trouble with a cane-swishing headmaster for running books on school events, tried to rig a three-legged race. Most of us who like a punt started early trying to improve the odds. I began by persuading a church fête vicar to let me roll sixpences rather than pennies on to a chequered board. He never realised how much easier it was to land the smaller coins in the paying squares…

Patrick Veitch has the lifestyle to support his claims of having made £10 million punting and his Enemy Number One (Racing Post, £18.99)

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