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The Connections

Of all the enemies of the touch, the most dangerous are your best friends, the connections.  This is the racing term for people connected to those attempting the touch.  Namely your many friends, family, builders working for family, distant cousins, distant cousins-once-removed, associates, friends of associates, feed merchants, son of the lady who walked into the feed merchants when the head lad was ordering Red Cell …

The replication rate at which the whisper of a possible touch spreads throughout the community makes Covid 19 look like a mild toothache.  The theory of exponential progression is generally illustrated by the grains of rice on a chessboard legend.  A great king of India was a keen chess player, challenging all-comers.  An elderly guru, dressed in little more than a loin cloth, sat down to play with the king.  They had a little bet, nothing special, just grains of rice – like playing for matchsticks.  If the guru won, the king would place just a single grain of rice on the first square of the chessboard, then two on the second and four on the third and so on, doubling the amount on the previous square each time until all the squares were completed.

That guru left the board a wealthy man.  The total amount wagered turned out to be more than 18 quintillion grains of rice, or 210 billion tonnes - enough rice to cover the whole of India a metre deep in rice.  In 2023 the average price of rice on the commodities market opened at about $100 per metric tonne.  Multiplying that by the 210 billion tonnes won gives you a pay day of more than 20,000 billion US dollars.  Now that was a touch.

Suppose though, that first grain of rice was your best friend, whom you told about your planned touch, and on the second square were her two best friends?  By the time your gamble was eventually landed, the whole bloody population of the world would be in on the payday! And this is the heart of the difficulty with our touch.  It must be kept absolutely confidential.  Suppose the owner mentions to his wife that if things go well on Thursday she should buy that villa in Antigua, and she mentions to her hairdresser that she will soon be winning enough to buy a villa, and her hairdresser mentions this to his girlfriend, and she tells everyone down at the gym, and they tell all their friends, those grains of rice are mounting up pretty quickly.  As all the bets begin to go do down, for a few quid on-line or at the betting shop, the bookies will spot it.  The BHA (British Horseracing Authority) will spot it.  It will be labelled “an irregular betting pattern,” and that’s the whole touch screwed.

There is a video of a horse called Rotherfield Greys winning an apprentice race over 6 furlongs at Warwick Races back in the late 80s.  Nothing special, but up-staging the finish is a middle-aged chap running alongside the rails, waving and jumping and shouting. He’d just won enough money to pay off his mortgage.  The teenage apprentice riding the horse that day had told his Mum and Dad, who also happened to work in racing, that he had got a ride in a race.  Even more amazing was that the ride was on a horse that he exercised at home, at the racing yard where he worked, and it was going really well at home, beating everything in sight on the training gallops.  His mother looked up the horse’s racing record and realised that two or three years previously, Rotherfield Greys had been a very promising youngster, winning one of the most prestigious and important two-year-old races on the calendar.  Nothing much had been heard since.  The jockey’s dad immediately picked up the phone to his brother, Uncle Mick, and said: “Go to Warwick Races now.  Stop at every cash machine on the way and get out as much cash as you can. Put it all to win on a horse called Rotherfield Greys which our lad is riding.”  Uncle Mick, a builder, happened to be somewhat in funds at that point and so was able to gather enough to put on a reasonable wager when he arrived at Warwick at the last minute – too late to give the bookies a chance to shorten the odds.

The touch was duly landed.  But what if the young jockey’s dad had not understood the importance of not telling anyone until the last minute? Or suppose Uncle Mick had been on the mobile telling his mates as he drove up to Warwick? Fortunately mobiles were rare in those days.


Chapter continues …. The importance of secrecy … Other stories of connections … jockeys’ other halves putting bets on for them … bribing connections to say nothing …

Interviews with connections who have set themselves up in business etc.

To read on, get this book published!

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