Weblog: Betting Shop Manager of the Year
Can racing do more with Frankel and Camelot?
The popular press and politicians have hailed Andy Murray's victory as the perfect end to a wonderful summer of sport. I always associate the Flat season with summer so with the Ladbrokes St. Leger, William Hill Ayr Gold Cup and Betfred Cambridgeshire all still to come, as well as the Arc, that may be all too premature, but no-one could deny this has been a momentous spell in British sporting history.
Andy is a hero in his hometown of Dunblane as shown from the coverage since his historic U.S Open victory. But, as I said in my last blog, I witnessed first hand the impact he has had there when passing through on Saturday night. There are lots of places that have youths converging on a Saturday night, but not many to participate in sport. It was quite inspirational to see how the local people have embraced their star man and that effect can only be magnified now that he has finally done what no British man had since Fred Perry won a tennis Grand-Slam event back in 1936.
The punters in the shop were supremely confident that victory would come, and they backed him accordingly. Both Ollie and Iain had backed Murray to win in the maximum five sets so were relieved it went all the way after his blistering start. Jack, who was in to collect on Tuesday, bleary eyed but delighted, pointed out that although the Olympics was not a 'ranking' event it meant the monkey was off his back.
He believed that victory at Wimbledon would inspire him to major success and as well as backing him to win in Manhattan he will also be backing him to go all the way at Wimbledon again in tennis' premier tournament.
Our cashier Eleanor, who is a Men's tennis fanatic, was at a 'Murray Party' in the local Fleece bar up until closing time and returned home to see him complete the job after that massive scare in the third and fourth sets. She is convinced that he will win the BBC Sports Personality of the Year, although I'm guessing she is still overawed at the thought of him with his top off!
To win Gold at the Olympics and then go and make history would, in any other year, make him a shoo-in, but this year has been unprecedented with so many heroes and whilst he may well stand a great chance he won't start as favourite.
Eleanor and regular Tim were discussing his merits and both are big fans, but Tim had mentioned that he is "not everyone's cup of tea". It reminded me of the time the tabloids published the story of Murray and his 'anti-England' rant. The story went that when England were about to leave for the World Cup in South Africa he was asked if he would be supporting the 'auld enemy' in their quest to bring football home, to which he replied "Anyone but England". Of course his response, after some earlier banter, was tongue-in-cheek.
The story was blown out of all proportion but it's amazing how many people have this stuck in their mind. Pete, who services our hot drinks machine, is from Leeds and was in the shop on Tuesday. After giving me pelters about Rangers (he has still never forgiven us for putting them out of the first ever UEFA Champions League) he moved on to Andy Murray and brought that up.
John, who has settled in the Borders from Birmingham, was indifferent to Andy's victory, and cites that interview as the reason.
So Eleanor, who on Sunday managed to win almost £700 from her 25p Lucky 15, would be ill-advised to go splashing all her cash on Murray adding the Sports Personality award to his growing list of honours.
I hope that all across the nation there are kids who now dream of being the next Andy Murray, the next Jessica Ennis, Bradley Wiggins, Mo Farah, Chris Hoy, Victoria Pendleton, Tom Daley or any one of our Olympic heroes.
The Paralympics carried on seamlessly from where the Olympics bowed out and were also sensational. We had the parade on in the shop on Monday as London lined the streets to honour those who had delivered so many medals and memories over the last few weeks.
And just as the athletes deserve amazing credit so too do the British public for attending with such enthusiasm and passion.
I love the football and am reluctant to indulge in the bashing that it has taken lately, but there is no way you could have the fans mingle and celebrate the victories of opponents in the way we had at the Olympics. I suppose that is what makes the Olympics so unique, but to have one here at home and to see it pass so successfully should be celebrated as it was with the procession on Monday.
So contrary to reports this wonderful summer of sport will continue as the Leger meeting runs through to Saturday. We have had the good fortune to welcome the Ashdown Golf Society from Scunthorpe to Selkirk this week and the guys have all enjoyed the local surroundings as well as the racing. They have been a great bunch to have in the shop, but I've not been fooled by their good natured banter. There are a few taking the golf very seriously indeed, with only Thursday and Friday to go in their tour of the Borders it looks a straight shootout between leader Howard 'Big Easy' Craven and Boo Lane 'McIlroy'. So while they two continue to enjoy their early nights the rest of the guys can let their hair down and enjoy themselves; we've certainly enjoyed having them!
We look forward to the weekend then and the quest for Camelot and the Triple Crown. The Flat season has had more than its share of highlights up to now and hopefully Saturday will be no different. The media frenzy that has followed Frankel this year hasn't reached the same heights for Camelot and reading the reports in the Racing Post punters don't have the same confidence in him, most preferring the 'betting without' market.
When you look at how well Frankel has been received in this country, and Black Caviar in Australia, then compare that to the impact that Andy Murray has had in tennis you can't help but think that racing is missing out. I know people will argue that Racing For Change is addressing the issue and that tennis is very much a growing sport in terms of betting revenue, but when you consider that the US Open traded £63m on Betfair alone, granted over five hours of action, then consider that horseracing is in decline. Perhaps there is new focus needed for the marketing of horseracing.
To round off, I'd just like to say a massive thanks to Helen, Nigel, Charlotte and Brent at SIS for their very kind donation after last Saturday's parachute jump. That takes the figure for this event to nearly £1,300 and will make a big difference to the Special Care Baby Unit. It really is a brilliant cause and one I hope none of you reading this ever has to use.