Rock On Doggedly, Sharpey
IT COULD take me forever, but I am currently involved in transferring my vinyl albums on to cd so that I can listen to them in the car. Yes, I know, down-loading, Mp3 etc, etc, but I can’t be bothered with all that technology.
Anyway, whilst transferring the mega obscure 1970 album Tin Tin, by the group called Tin Tin (whose best known track, Toast And Marmalade For Tea, may be well known to one or two of my more discerning and elderly readers) who had nothing whatsoever to do with the cartoon character Tintin, and whose album was produced by the late Maurice Gibb of the Bee Gees, I discovered that it boasted one of the very tiny number of greyhound racing-related tracks amongst its grooves – ‘Put Your Money On My Dog’.
It is an enjoyable enough ditty, which brought to mind the minor hit by The Who, called ‘Dogs’ which reached number 25 in June 1968.
But apart from the Parklife album by Blur which featured a greyhound on the cover, I am struggling to find too many other greyhound-rock references.
Horse racing has far more rock associations with plenty of horses named after rock songs, for example – even as I was writing this piece I noticed that Sweet Child Of Mine has just won a race.
I even own a vinyl album by unlikely pop star, Peter O’Sullevan. Well, ‘Peter O’Sullevan Talks Turf’ wasn’t really a pop album, but is a fascinating piece of racing history recorded by the grand old man of racing back in January 1983 and released on the Charisma label, which was founded by huge racing fan Tony Stratton Smith. Side One is called ‘Lester Piggott and My Horse Attivo’ and Side 2, ‘The Nationals’.
The front cover boasts a superb cartoon of Sir Peter as a horse’s head, drawn by the incomporable Ralph Steadman, with a tremendous back cover photo of colourful turf tipster and fore-runner of John McCririck, Prince Monolulu – who would die, according to him, after being force fed chocolate by legendary racing writer Jeffrey Bernard.
I even have a single called ‘Red Rum’ on the Pye label which, to be honest, can only be listened to once before an overwhelming urge to throw oneself under the hooves of the eponymous National winner takes hold…..!
Many years ago, I was involved in getting an Island-label 45rpm,7-inch vinyl single called, ‘2/1 I Bet Ya’ issued with a William Hill betting slip prominently featured on the picture cover. It came out in 1979, and was by a group called US of A – and I just googled it and found that it now sells for £17.66 a time – well, that’s how much I found it offered for sale at – I’d better scour the wardrobe for my old copies and try to flood the market!
The closest I ever got to doing something like that again was on a record cashing in on the popularity of the ‘Dallas’ tv series of the time, which was called ‘Who Shot JR?’ and featured the odds for the relevant suspects on its cover – I can’t see that happening when the remake or update of the series hits our screens next year.
I ENJOY ferreting out obscure racing or gambling references and found an interesting and topical one whilst reading Mark Ryan’s impressive ‘Running With Fire’ (JR Books), the story of the ‘Chariots of Fire’ hero and 1924 Olympic 100metre Gold medal winner Harold Abrahams.
Many of you will have seen the film celebrating Abrahams and his great sprint rival Eric Liddell – and this book exposes how much of that film was not strictly speaking accurate.
But the piece I was interested in turns up on page 186 when Abrahams admits that as a commentator after his active athletics’s career was halted by injury, ‘I allowed my pro-British exuberance to overcome my judgement and lost bets. But betting is not allowed on athletic events, so do not let this get any further, will you?’
It didn’t, but it just reinforces the ridiculous campaign of some of those associated with the current Olympic movement not only to ensure that they get free and unencumbered passage around and along the roads of the capital for the build up and duration of the London Olympics, but also to be able to prevent anyone who wants to, having a flutter on the outcome of the various events.
Quite how they can stop people betting on the Olympics is unclear and for sure they are going to have no success whatsoever in prohibiting bookmakers from quoting odds on virtually every aspect of every event taking place.
But the fact that they should even want to do such a thing demonstrates what a rarified atmosphere they live and work in.
Delving way back into Olympic history, as does author David Potter in his own recent book, The Victor’s Crown, (Quercus), we find that it used to include a form of horse racing (and why shouldn’t future Games? After all, equestrian events are no novelty) but not quite as we know it.
Potter makes reference to Chariot racing – another event it would be good to welcome back into the Olympic fold – and horseracing – ‘ There could be 48 entrants to the chariot race, and probably as many to the horse race and to two events that would be eliminated by the mid 5th century (BC) – the mule cart race and the ‘kalpe’, a race for mares in which the rider would leap off his horse and run alongside it, holding the reins, for the last lap.’
Can you just imagine a Grand National in which horse and rider jump round together until the final circuit when the McCoys and Johnsons of this world have to dismount and jog around hanging on for dear life to the reins as their mount drags them along behind him – brilliant!