Two other Australian jockeys spotted on winning curves and accumulating money at the moment:
Billy Egan &
And this my 2019 Xmas fable written before but in anticipation of the December election result. Including a viral pandemic that would put the PM into intensive care never occurred to me. Obviously not a good enough imaginer to write plots for the Government!
TRIPLE BARRELLED SURNAME MEN
Ashleigh Murtin-Sugar-Mardoch was one of the new breed of triple barrelled surname men who took the maiden names of his ‘conquered’ wives as his own.
He was also as rich as Creosus. One of those to whom money mattered. If you had none you were nobody. Or a nobody. No distinction made between the two. If you had some, or what is commonly called a middle income, you were an allowed member of the hoi-polloi. Only if you had amassed the sort of wealth defined as obscene – so great that you couldn’t possibly find anything to do with it all – were you actually somebody. Or more precisely in Ashleigh Mardoch-Sugar-Murtin’s case, a somebody. The distinction there was very important.
Like many rich people, Ashleigh Sugar-Mardoch-Murtin owned racehorses. He didn’t own the hoof or the tail of a horse like most people. Ashleigh Sugar-Mardoch-Murtin liked to own the whole horse. He also only owned one racehorse at a time despite being able to afford to own all the racehorses in existence. He considered it his greatest act of selflessness that he did not own all the racehorses in existence.
“ Let’s face it, be pretty boring if the only racehorses to beat were my own!! “
So Ashleigh Murtin-Mardoch-Sugar just owned the one racehorse. Not surprisingly, the best one. The one the rest of the racehorses couldn’t beat.
“ Let’s face it, be pretty pointless owning a racehorse that others could beat! “
He’d owned several ‘best horses in training’ during his time but this story centres around his most famous best horse and his current one – the Absolutely Unbeatable
Magma – which wasn’t actually the horse’s name as Weatherby’s wouldn’t allow it much to Ashleigh’s disgust. “There are some things I’m afraid Misses Murtin-Sugar-Mardoch (as Wetherby’s liked to call Ashleigh) that money cannot buy.
The Absolutely Unbeatable Magma as the name of your horse is one of those things.
You can call him the five other names on your submitted list all of which are acceptable to us. “ Ashleigh buried his grimace and stifled his ire. Those wallahs at Weatherby’s would be laughing the other side of their faces before this story ends!
One of the ‘acceptable’ names was simply Magma but another was A-U- Magma and Ashleigh Murtin-Sugar-Mardoch was one of those breed of men who approved of hyphens in a name and so his greatest ever unbeatable racehorse was called the deliciously unforgettable A-U-Magma. And according to the script, in its bumpers,its juvenile hurdle career and its grade one chasing career, it never got beaten. The Magma part of the name was appropriate too. Molten speed and stamina in horseflesh form. A-U-Magma was a beast of a horse endowed with the optimum mix. He ran races like Keith Moon played the drums. A neverending whirlwind pounding down the Turf at speeds that none could match. No need for jumping lessons. Impeccably timed leap from the hindquarters of Titan. Made your eyes sore to watch.
A horse that leaped like a stag.
Nineteen straight victories on the racecourse and pretty impossible for hoi polloi punters to get a bet on him right from the start. Ashleigh of course was the sort of punter who could get a decent bet on. Fifty Thousand to win one was ok when you knew you couldn’t get beat! “ Easiest thousand pounds I ever made “ Ashleigh liked to sneer at the bookmakers as he ritually counted his winnings down to the last pound coin to make sure he hadn’t been swindled. The bookmakers grinned through grinless teeth and prayed for the day that A-U-Magma would get beat. That day had to come soon they thought.
Ashleigh Murtin-Sugar-Mardoch however was ahead of that game. He had recently got a bit bored with winning all the time and not making enough profit from his betting so had been discussing with his trainer – the beautifully named Scruff Brott – how best to change this course of events. “ We could do with a good old fashioned betting sting Scruff, what do you suggest?” Scruff was a one man and his horse operation who did everything from breaking them in, to mucking out of a night, grooming,washing.feeding,schooling, right through to actually riding as a jockey in the races themselves. Scruff lived, ate and breathed horses and always had. He was brought up as an identical twin in the early days of the Siamese occupation and was Ashleigh’s favourite kind of trainer because he always had good ideas that Ashleigh could claim to the press as his own but he also always did what he was told. “ Knows which side his bread is buttered. “ as Ashleigh liked to put it. Ashleigh considered Scruff one of his loyal lieutenants and had employed him steadfastly throughout his time as a racehorse owner always sending the one horse owned to Scruff to ready and ride.
“ We could pretend not to start a race and give the others a furlong start. “ said Scruff
“ That might make the exchanges offer us at attractive odds in play. We’d soon make that furlong up and still win the race anyway. “
See what I mean? Scruff had good ideas! So they did that a couple of times and hoovered up the loot before the bookmakers got wise and went back to hollering “fifty to one on – even with the length of a football pitch start “ in the ring before A-U-Magma’s races.
“ What about we win the race so you get the satisfaction of knowing your horse is still best but I get us disqualified in the steward’s room for carrying the wrong weight or taking the wrong course. “
“ The bookmakers don’t pay out on a disqualified horse any more “ said Ashleigh thinking perhaps that Scruff had finally lost his marbles.
“ Of course not “ replied Scruff “ that’s why you and me both lay him on the exchanges
so that instead of winning a thousand for our fifty thousand, we win fifty thousand for our one. “
Asleigh Mardoch-Sugar- Murtin looked truly bewildered. “ You and Me lay him?” he uttered.
“ Well just you then. “ Scruff whimpered.
“Why have you never suggested that before? “ Ashliegh bellowed.
“ Thought you might not like losing the race. “ said Scruff “ They take your prize money off you as well. “
A moment’s silent calculation. “ We give up a few thousand to make fifty. Let’s do it. “
And so A-U- Magma started getting disqualified in the steward’s room. Firstly for carrying the wrong weight. Then for missing out a fence and taking the wrong course. Then Scruff even managed to get A-U-Magma to go down the side of a fence crashing through between it and a wing without either injuring the horse or falling off himself. Such was A-U-Magma’s force and the horsemanship of his jockey.
They also contrived together so that in the Haldon Cup at Exeter, A-U-Magma was twenty lengths clear and about to return back to the winner’s enclosure when suddenly, two yards from the finishing line, the horse suddenly bucked like a bronco and kicked Scruff out of the saddle crossing the line on his own. They’d rehearsed it to the inch on the gallops beforehand.
“ That “ said Ashleigh Mardoch-Sugar-Murtin “was a true work of art. Better than the Mona Lisa.”
To celebrate, he thought about buying himself a knighthood but Sir seemed a bit underwhelming so he plumped for a lordship instead. Lord Murtin-Sugar-Mardoch still didn’t seem quite right so he advertised for a fourth wife whose maiden name was Lord so he would become Lord Mardoch-Sugar-Murtin-Lord.
“That’s a good idea “ said Scruff. But as it turned out, like all ideas that weren’t Scruff’s it was actually the beginning of Ashleigh’s downfall.Not that it seemed so at first. Criquette Lord was the French madame cum perfume magnate who replied to Ashleigh’s advert. They were married in the Spring and it was she that suggested that they win the King George on Boxing Day with A-U-Magma when the whole world and his wife would be betting on it getting disqualified again.
“ You could even tell them it is going to lose so they’ll all be able to take advantage and pay for their Christmasses with the money they get from laying it. “ said Criquette coquettishly.
“ Why would they believe me? “ asked Lord Lord as he had now become known – so infatuated was he with his new wife and her marvellous ideas. He actually knew the answer but he just wanted to hear his gorgeous L’Arc De Triomphe wife say it out loud in that outrageous French accent that she did so well.
“ Let’s face it mon Sugar. You are so rich that everyone will believe every word that you say. Like they always have. With everyone laying Le Magma, we will get an outstanding price on the Unbeatable One. It will be a Christmas never to forget.”
“ Not for the hoi polloi “ thought Scruff. He just happened to have been in overhearing distance of the still-on- honeymoon lovers who had asked to eat honey on the moon as the trip they’d like to treat themselves to in celebration of their nuptials until they found out that it wouldn’t be expensive enough. They ended up on an around the world eight times cruise which Scruff also decided to enjoy whilst his owner wasn’t going racing. As you won’t be surprised to hear, Scruff was nearly as wealthy as Lord Ashleigh Lord and actually more wealthy than Criquette the perfume magnate but it was his turn now to start getting bored by it all. He’d never really had the same enjoyment since they started the disqualification malarkey. He’d made his millions alright from losing won races but he had to admit that his pride was a bit dented. He also thought A-U-Magma had cottoned on and had started understanding that they were deliberately losing. The horse had started turning the other way when Scruff entered the stables for mucking out and stamping his hooves when asked to quicken up on the gallops as a sort of protest at running his heart out only to get his victory snatched away.
A-U-Magma wasn’t one to whom money mattered all that much. And after his fourth time round the globe, Scruff found he’d had enough of it too and had been delighted to hear of the plan to win the King George. Not so keen that it had been Criquette’s idea however and that was perhaps what also lead to a feeling he didn’t recognise at first. A sort of queasy stomach churn of a feeling as he was walking through Soho one day on a shopping spree and seeing all the tents and mudhuts that had sprung up on the Ringway. Little lines of washed underpants strung from the branches of straggly pine trees and kids running around in bare feet and with muddy faces from playing in the December dirt.
“ Some Christmas they are gonna get. Especially when their Moms and Dads lay
us on the exchanges to pay for their Santa’s treats. “
Scruff didn’t really acknowledge it but the queasy tummy continued until he realised it for what it was. A pang. And at that point he decided on his new good idea that he wasn’t going to tell the Lord about.
And so Boxing Day and the running of the King George arrived. Scruff had been busy training A-U-Magma up to his racing peak as Lord Lord and his new cleverclogs wife
had asked him to in private whilst advertising to social media and the world that his horse was suffering a bout of lost confidence following all the ‘accidental’ disqualifications and despite his former status as the Absolutely Unbeatable one, the betting public should brace themselves for the possibility that the horse might not win again.
“ The horse’s old winning ways must now be taken on trust “ lied Lord Lord in such a way as to nod and wink that previous losses had not been wholly accidental and that the public should trust him once more to create a situation that they, the betting public could profit from. The bookmakers did not trust it at first being the sort at whom such lies were not necessarily aimed but the money for A-U-Magma to lose started snowballing yet further so that ‘the market’ could not but respond and push the 50 to one on favourite as far as fifteen to one on. Then even money. Then to the gigantically enormous five to one against at which Lord Lord and his cleverclogs wife started betting. They sent the money on via anonymous agents but bookmakers started to suspect the plot but still could do nothing to stem the flow of public money going on the Unbeatable one finding a ‘way’ to lose again.
“ We are only going to be able to do this once. “ said Lord Lord as he started to think about how the public would react to the loss of their Christmasses at the victory of his unbeatable horse. “ they’ll never trust me again. “
“ No matter. “ soothed Criquette “ You will perhaps be able to go into a political career instead. But I agree. We should lump as much on the Unbeatable one to win as we can get. If you are sure he will win that is. “
Lord Lord knew nothing of Scruff’s pang and repeated his instructions to his trainer that today they would win fair and square and that there were to be no grounds for disqualification. He knew his trainer always did as he was told (and also profited himself from their betting scams) and saw nothing to suggest anything would be different this time.
“ You have the correct weight cloth ? “
“ You know exactly the right course to take? “
“ there’s been no filling the horse’s belly with water to make him run slower? “
“We never used that one if you remember. “ said Scruff “ We both agreed he would still win anyway even if we did. “
“Ah yes. “ said Lord Lord confident that his millions were wisely invested and giving not one jot about the Christmas carnage he was about to create for the public around the country. Only the extra fortune that he and Lady Lord (as she was now known) were about to make mattered to him.
They were all three stood in the paddock at Kempton awaiting the mounting of the horses so that the big race could begin. Scruff excused himself briefly stating the need for a bathroom break but as Lord Lord looked momentarily disquieted by the news, Scruff reappeared in the paddock in record time nodding that he was fine and looking forward to the race.
A-U-Magma jumped like a stag and pounded the opposition into the ground. He won pulling a cart by over 30 lengths. Lord and Lady Lord had left the course not wanting to be there to witness when the Steward’s enquiry bell that the huge public crowd was expecting did not ring. A-U-Magma and his jockey had indeed not breached a single rule and had had a faultless trip round never even near to another horse who he may have interfered with ‘the winning chance of’ or ‘stopped in the run’.
A-U-Magmas’s jockey dismounted and went into the changing rooms to weigh in. The first fidgets of disquiet were witnessed in the public as no stewards bell clanged and the owners Lord and Lady Lord were noticed as absent. The first inklings of the catastrophe were sowing seed in the brains of the hoi polloi who saw the price of the winner chalked up at five to one against and winced. Had they really laid to lose even at that price? The bookmakers in the ring were starting to smile. It was not a great result for them that there was to be no disqualification but by same token, they were not going to have to pay out to the millions. Most would be turning a profit if not quite the profit they knew would be finding its way back to the Lord and his new lady. Just as the horror was about to dawn on the world of racing’s punters, it came.
DING DONG. STEWARD’S INQUIRY. STEWARD’S INQUIRY.
The crowd understandably cheered. Ecstatically.
Lord and Lady Lord watching a television screen in a remote hotel room furrowed brows but were still confident it was just a routine inquiry. There had been absolutely nothing to disqualify their horse. They had watched with their own eyes. Scruff had ridden an exemplary race and they’d seen him carry what they knew would be the correct weight cloths into the weighing room. Seen him with their own eyes. There had been no taking a wrong course of that Lord Lord was sure. And yet there was no announcement of ‘Result stands Result stands’ as he was expecting. The entire betting public which seemed like the whole world held their collective breath. The longer an enquiry went on, the greater the chance of a disqualification. Of course the whole inquiry could be ‘not concerning the winner’.
Lord Lord was starting to cling to that hope as the time breasted ten minutes and past a quarter of an hour.
Scruff came out of the bathroom that he had gone into from the paddock just as the announcement came through.
‘ The winner has been disqualified on the grounds of being ridden by an undeclared jockey.’
Scruff went over to put a consoling arm around the shoulder of his identical twin brother.
“ Thanks for flying in from Siam ready to stand in for me if I was taken ill.” winked Scruff “ that pang really did make me feel sick. “
The brothers laughed and before rushing hurriedly off to catch the first aeroplane to nowhere, turned to the celebrating mass of hoi polloi who were busy singing praises and thanking Lord and Lady Lord for the nod and a wink that had the bookies now weeping into their satchels.
“ Merry Christmas everyone “ shouted Scruff with a smile as broad as his heart. He went off feeling like any trainer should who had just trained the winner of the King George and repeated his chant to the crowd.
“ Have a Merry Christmas one and all. “
The story ends not quite here. Lord Lord was banned from the racecourse and from ever being an owner of racehorses again when it was decided that the repeated
Disqualifications of the Absolutely Unbeatable Magma were implausible as co-incidences and indeed an orchestrated attempt to defraud the betting public.
The Lord did however manage to get the wallahs at Weatherbys laughing on the other side of their faces when as a thank you for his perceived Christmas benevolence, the hoi polloi voted unanimously for the stripped Lord Ashley Murtin-Sugar-Mardoch (now divorced from Lady Lord) as their new Prime Minister. They heard what the racing authorities had to say about the disqualifications but decided the way they had been tipped the wink in the King George to make their Christmas such a success needed rewarding. Triple barrelled surname men it seems are their kind of man.
Merry Christmas one and all.
© Gary Boswell 2019