Don't Knock The Commentator II

The online racing forums have been hot over the past 24 hours, following Mike Cattamole’s faux pas at Newbury.

For those who missed it, Mike somehow managed to confuse two runners and was calling a 150/1 outsider as being in strong contention, instead of the favourite, only realising his error late on.

Some of the criticism has almost bordered on bloodlust.

Some punters have complained the incorrect call cost them a great deal of money in the in-running markets.

Sorry, I have no sympathy whatsoever.  In running betting is a tricky proposition at the best of times, especially when you consider that the TV transmissions are delayed by three to four seconds. To then rely on the observations of a third party to strike your bets is foolhardy in the extreme.

Instead of blaming a commentators mistake for losing money these punters should take a look in the mirror. Indeed I would go as far as to suggest that they should seriously consider if in-running betting is for them.

Whilst it is difficult to see how Mike made the error, I’m not going to join the bandwagon calling for his head. It was a howler, however I suspect nobody will be more annoyed by it than the man himself.

I also know how easy it is to make a calling error.

In the early 90’s there was a trend to introduce community radio stations and I always fancied myself as the next Des Lynam. I managed to get involved with one such station, which was a combination of a hospital radio station but with a community radio licence which meant it was available on AM in a ten mile radius.

Even better, I managed to get the Saturday afternoon sports slot – I was in my element.

As my confidence grew I used to do the occasional, very unofficial, “off tube” race commentaries. Usually for the big races only, I would do the call from a small 14” portable TV, the same TV we used to source the sports results from Teletext.

This arrangement went quite well, until that fateful Saturday afternoon. June 6th 1992 was the day, in those days The Oaks used to be run on Saturday afternoon.

It was only a small field, just the seven runners, two of whom 11/10 shot All At Sea and  20/1 outsider Shiny Bright were owned by Khalid Abdulla.

The field were well bunched coming round Tattenham Corner with the Abdulla runners taking the turn side by side.

It turned out to be a two horse race with the first two finishing 20 lengths ahead of the third.

I thought I had called a good race with the shock result being the third favourite User Friendly beating the Abdulla second string into second place with the favourite finishing a disappointing 5th seemingly not getting the mile and a half. Promising the SP after some music, I waited for the SP’s to come through.

To my absolute horror the caption flashed up

1st User Friendly  5/1
2nd All At Sea 11/10fav

Yes I had committed the ultimate sin, I had confused an owners first and second string.

I hoped the track I was playing would play through until the end of the program at 6:00 – I had nowhere to hide.

In the end I just took a great big breath and admitted my cardinal sin. It was so embarrassing – it made the Christmas out-take show!!

Never again did I ever attempt an “off tube” call.

That is why I will not slam a commentator for making an incorrect call.    

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