I hope you all joined me in laying the hind legs off Binocular at evens on Saturday. Those of you who also took a bit of Overturn at 4.0 on Betfair will have shared in my joy, although maybe not shared in celebrating by shouting “screw you Binocular!” at the telly, whilst in a packed bookies, in the premier enclosure at Newbury racecourse! But I’m not here to blog about my success at the Hennessy meeting, enjoyable as it was.
For last night was one of the most enjoyable sessions I’ve had on the internet without enabling the “Private Browsing” feature on Safari.
Whilst on Twitter, I engaged in what felt like a proper conversation with the following characters: Racing Post editor Bruce Millington (@brucemillington) and football-mad writer Mark Langdon (@marklangdon – a man who summarises himself thus: Racing Post journalist who loves football and betting and betting on football) ; Racing Post golf guru Steve Palmer (@stevepalmer78 – the 78 denotes his year of birth, a fact he bemoans regularly in his hilarious columns in the ‘paper and the amazing published diary “Born to Punt”... I mean that the account is amazing, not the fact a publisher decided to touch it); BBC Journo “Honest” Frank Keogh (@honestfrank); Coral’s Head of Racing James Knight (@jamesaknight) the Editor in Chief of Sport Magazine Simon Caney (@simoncaney) and some blokes called Mark Calvert (@furlongpost) and Lee Murray (@LeeAMurray) both of whom seem like jolly nice fellas.
The fervent retweeting and replying arose due to the fact that the BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2011 shortlist had been announced, and in the aftermath Honest Frank shared a link with his 7,000 followers showing the various publications’ choices for aforementioned winning personalities:
I don’t actually have a problem with any of the newspapers or magazines, free or overpriced, whose sports writers got a say. I’m not a regular peruser of Zoo or Nuts magazine, as I favour hardcore pornography, which is why I’m not a massive fan of the Sun either, and I appreciate that giveaway dailies like the Evening Standard and the Metro probably do reflect popular opinion and make informed choices when given this sort of responsibility. Yes, I was a tad bitter, having backed him for a top-3 finish, that Judd Trump wasn’t in the final selection, but the real omission was that of the Racing Post. They didn’t even get a vote.
This is a staple of literary digestion that British punters up and down the country cannot do without. Aside from gambling, though, it also provides some of the most authoritative, well-researched and insightful analysis and opinion that you can find in the print media. Read some of James Pyman’s pieces on trends of the turf, tuck into Kevin Pullein’s in-depth treatises on the statistics behind the football hunches, and find me any golf correspondent anywhere else in journalism who puts more effort into previewing tour tournaments than Steve Palmer.
Maybe it is because these writers know that gamblers hang on their words before filling out their coupons, but I don’t have a bet every day, and I seem more and more often to reach for the RP ahead of most other choices in the newsagents. I will already be aware of most of the mainstream news by the time I’ve had my Marmite on toast and morning cuppa – when I get to the cornershop, there’s always so much more to enjoy in the Post.
So the fact that the beeb didn’t even consider their opinion for SPOTY 2011 bemuses me. I doubt we would have ended up with the RP team choosing 10 jockeys or even five choices from the whole sport of horseracing. We might have had a female suggestion in the shape of Hayley Turner, and who could argue that AP McCoy doesn’t deserve to be in there again, but I posit that there would have been many shouts in the RP’s list that you would have agreed with. They deserved their say. Bruce Millington himself has said more for Mark Cavendish than most mainstream sports commentators, and I feel like I have had my sporting knowledge enriched by adding the Racing Post to my regular reads. These hacks are more than just tipsters you know Auntie! I would urge the BBC to look beyond regional rags and sleazy mags and give this other British institution the respect it deserves in next year’s SPOTY nomination process.