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There are lots of jokes about horses in pubs:

Horse walks into a bar. ‘Why the long face?’ says the publican.

Publican: ‘That’s funny, having a white horse in the pub. We have a drink named after you’.  White horse: ‘What, Norman?’

A slightly less well known gag (arguably for good reason) involves three horses in the pub after work:

Horse one:  ‘A funny thing happened to me the other day. I was running in a big race at Cheltenham. I was a mile head and approaching the last fence when suddenly I got this terrible pain up my back legs right into my most sensitive spot. I was in so much pain I stopped dead in my tracks and finished last’.

The second horse goes to the bar for some more pints and a packet of scratchings. When he gets back to his seat he says: 

‘That’s such a coincidence because last year I was running in the Derby when exactly the same thing happened to me. I was leading in the finishing straight when I got this awful pain in just the same tender area.  Like you, I stopped running and didn’t even get to the line’.

The three horses stroll outside for a cigarette at which point the third horse says:

‘This is amazing because exactly the same thing happened to me in last year’s Grand National. I was leading round the Canal Turn, the crowd was roaring and my jockey whispering sweet nothings in my ears, when I got the most awful stabbing pain right where you least want it. I was so distracted I fell at the next fence’.

Just then a greyhound comes over to the group.

‘I’m sorry to disturb you’ he says ’but I couldn’t help overhearing what you were saying and you won’t believe this, but exactly the same thing happened to me at Walthamstow the other night in the Greyhound Derby. I was running so fast I had almost caught the hare when, just rounding the final turn, I got this awful pain right up the back legs. I ended up sixth of six. Anyway, sorry to butt in, and do enjoy the rest of your evening’.

The first horse turns to the others with a look of amazement:

‘ Bloody hell!’ he said ‘ who would have thought it? A dog that talks!’ 

Back in 1980 I was a student at sixth form college in Battersea. I didn’t work very hard, so one day I found myself watching racing on TV in the afternoon. It was very wet and windy so the ground was dire. In one long attritional race there was only one finisher, a horse called  Ben Nevis. 

When a few weeks later I saw that it was entered in the Grand National, I took it upon myself  to tell everyone to back it (even though I knew next to nothing about horses). So insistent was I that it became a slightly tedious college joke; if I met people in the corridor before I could open my mouth they would say ‘yes, yes, Ben Nevis, we know’.

But on the day of the National, I had a massive row with my girlfriend (a woman who became so eager to distance herself from her past with me that soon after she left me she changed her name from Sarah to Edith). Given that our argument seemed so important to us, I hardly had it in me to ask for a truce while I put a bet on. As it was I didn’t have time to borrow any money so simply laid 25 pence each way.

As racing fans know, this was the year when the National was very badly affected by terrible weather. Only four horses finished the race and the winner was an unfancied outsider who had mediocre form (except in precisely the prevailing conditions). Ben Nevis won at 40-1.

When I arrived at college on Monday I was literally carried shoulder high around the building. This was a very long time ago and the lowest sum anyone seemed to have won was a princely £40 (a week’s wages). Several people – including some of my lecturers - had staked a fiver and one a tenner! They had won enough for a foreign holiday.  I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry but I did know one thing: no one was ever going to find out that I – the champion tipster and toast of the college – had won a measly £13.00.  I was also expected to buy everyone a drink from my winnings in the pub that evening. I may even have finished out of pocket.    

So when an RSA colleague, who has a part time job working for a national bookmaker, gave me a tip for the 2011 Grand National I resolved two things. I’ve put on £20 each way and I’m asking all my readers who follow her advice to promise to donate 25% of their winnings to an RSA good cause (probably something at our Academy) if it wins. The tip is Tidal Bay which is currently 33-1.

Get those bets on quick because given the mass readership of my blog (hope to see you soon, mum) it’s only a matter of time until it’s become the clear favourite ...


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