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Blog - It's that man yet again

Spring is here, it is official now. Not because it is nine days to Cheltenham or we have heard the first cuckoo but because the man you can't escape is back.

Usual raceday presenter Paul Clarkson was not at Sedgefield today and was doubtless busy celebrating the fact he had turned 61 - you are never too old to want to take your birthday off work.

But joyful though he will have been, every silver lining has a cloud and the stand-in host was Derek Thompson, who managed to inflict his own particular brand of broadcast pantomimery onto the world before and after races. 

He was briefly silenced when a toddler in a high chair grabbed his microphone and started to suck it like a lollipop. But stealing a mic from a baby is not beneath the great man and he was soon back on air.

And there really was no escape.

After Boris The Blade sprang a 25-1 surprise, perusal of the racecard revealed that he is part-owned by a certain Howard Thompson. So we had the unusual sight of DT interviewing his elder brother, who is definitely the quieter, less extrovert of the pair (is it possible to imagine a man who is less quiet and more extrovert?) - though he did reveal he had 'two shillings' on the winner.

And when Alan Swinbank won the next, it emerged that he had ridden the winner of the first race that Tommo had commentated on, a Cleveland point-to-point on a horse called Star Charmer in 1973 or 1974.

Nor is a long-haul flight, putting 3,000 miles between yourself and the UK, enough to get away. 

My race-reading colleague Andrew Sheret has been in Qatar recently, courtesy of a prize he won at the HWPA Derby Awards.

He was relaxing in the lobby of his five star hotel, just about to start enjoying a week of luxury and pampering, when he heard an all too familiar a voice and saw our hero larger than life.

History does not recall whether he had brought his bucket to the Middle East.

But Richard Collins had brought his fish and chips.

The owner whose familiar white, blue and pink colours were carried to victory by the relatively unfancied 14-1 shot Night In Milan at Doncaster yesterday did punters a rather better turn 24 hours on as he sponsored the fish on 'fish fryers raceday' at his local track.

He is in the seafood business and his backing meant that fish and chips was available for £3.50 . Pretty popular they appeared too, though I suspect that riding winners at 10-11, 6-4, 11-4 and 4-1 may just have ensured Jason Maguire that was the one being toasted by racegoers on the way home.

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