Business news By Graham Sharpe

Oh My Cod!

Do not believe anyone who tells you that all Goldfish look the same - and that therefore Goldfish Racing faces an insoluble problem inasmuch as people will not be able to distinguish between the runners in the race.

For those of you who haven't heard the news, there has been a story in The Sun newspaper suggesting that William Hill will shortly be launching Goldfish Racing on our internet sites.

The story touched a chord and went around the world within hours. We had media on from America, Canada, Australia wanting to hear about the idea, while the domestic media also got themselves into a feeding frenzy. The story, although leaked a little earlier than we might have liked was, in essence accurate.

The plan is to set up a tank, equip it with half a dozen goldfish and a bridge, and then at a given signal to start the event, let the fish swim off until one of them nips under the bridge - at which point he or she will be delcared the winner of the first race.

No, we have not yet decided whether we will permit place betting, and should there be any dispiutes we will undoubtedly call a Stewards Finquiry and yes, we do have the necessary equipment for a Photo Fin-ish if necessary.

That's got a few of the puns out of the way for now, I hope. We do not yet have a definite date for the start of the Goldfish Racing season but I can refute those critics who have alleged that all Goldfish are the same colour.

Having trawled - sorry - the internet for information on these attractive fish I was informed by the Glimmering Goldfish site that: 'there are colours ranging from yellow-orange to black. Black, brown and wild green goldfish colours are caused by different combinations of the black and yellow pigment cells. Blue goldfish occur one of two ways....' at this point I decided there was only so much information about Goldfish which could be readily digested by one person so, as I now knew that there are plenty of colour varieties I logged off.

There will be no element of cruelty involved whatsoever - the fish will be better looked after than if they were swimming around ina little bowl in someone's living room - they will not have tadpole jockeys or painted numbers or saddlecloths of any description.

I understand Goldfish have a very short memory span which could mean that form becomes irrelevant - after all, how will the Fish which wins the first race be able to remember how he did it? On the other hand this will stop them falling out of love with the game as some horses and greyhounds have been known to do, because every race will seem different and fresh to the competitors.

Twenty four hour security will have to be applied to these Fish, who could well become cult characters as the sport develops - Fish Fan Clubs could soon be set up to rival TV's Popstars group's popularity.

We have already had offers to sponsor the first races of the series and Channel Four's Big Breakfast want to come and film the action, so another splurge of publicity is certain when we have selected the Goldfish who will be making up the stable.

Anyone wishing to apply for the position of Clerk of the Scales is likely to be out of luck. However, we are considering taking the sport out to the real world and there are already plans to stage it at Haddock or Musselburgh racecourses.

Any more dodgy jokes and puns of a fishy nature should be kept to yourself preferably.

So, there you are - that's Goldfish Racing - you read it here first - and you'll see it here first, too!