Sunday 8 December 2019

'Lard of the Ring' feels wrath as Russell jumps to O'Connell defence

PICK on someone your own size. There can't be many people annoying enough to distract a professional in the midst of one of the most glorious moments of his career. John McCririck happens to be one of them.

Channel 4's betting guru -- aka The Lard of the Ring -- incensed the weighing room with his comments concerning Brian O'Connell's ride on the beaten hotpot Dunguib in the Festival opener.

"They should replace him with a proper jockey," was one of McCririck's kinder comments. John Francome, his TV colleague, yesterday pulled him on his abuse, telling him he "was out of order". Yet to the boys still toiling in the saddle, Francome's rebuke did not begin to sum up the fury.

When Davy Russell returned to the winner's enclosure having won the RSA Chase aboard Weapon's Amnesty he was keen to perform his victory salute -- in the big man's direction.

"If it was me or Ruby (Walsh) or AP (McCoy) we can take that sort of nonsense," he said. "But Brian is a young lad on the way up and he doesn't need that sort of thing, especially from someone like that.

"Brian rode the horse fine, he was just beaten by better ones on the day, and if punters feel bad, that's nothing to how he feels. John McCririck doesn't know one end of a horse from another. If he's lost money as a punter, let him stand up and take it on the chin like a good solid man rather than hit out at a young lad who can't hit back."

But which chin to take it on?

THE authorities are taking precautions to ensure that today's ladies' charity race does not turn into the biggest gambling contest of the meeting by checking each runner's passport, lest a high-class ringer is introduced.

There is a serious side to the fun, though, which is fund-raising to the tune of over £100,000 for Cancer Research UK. Among the jockeys is Liz Murdoch, daughter of Rupert. She rides the highest rated horse in the race but faces more experienced rivals in the shape of Georgie Browne, Paul Nicholls' better half, and Camilla Henderson.

CHANNEL Four's Alice Plunkett had a winner on Tuesday. With the petrol gauge on red she pulled into a garage. As she did, a minibus full of legless racegoers arrived so she hid behind the pump and they proceeded to fall out of the bus and into the shop for supplies. When she went into pay for the petrol, she was informed that it had already been paid for.

Plunkett went to the minibus and insisted she reimburse the mystery benefactor but was told by a sober member not to worry and that it would be Wednesday before the man in question would realise he had paid £75 for Smarties.

after taking a fall from the ill-fated Citizen Vic, Ruby Walsh waited for the horse ambulance crew to attend and then found himself stranded a 10-minute walk from the weighing room and short of time to weigh out for Master Minded in the next.

Parked beside the fence was an unattended quad bike so, naturally, he requisitioned it and took off. Alas he met his match when he was stopped by a racecourse doctor who informed him he had not yet been passed fit to ride again -- either horse or quad bike.

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