Mike Bass : “His horses do the talking for him…”
(Photo : Gold Circle)
OR JUST GREAT CHARACTERS?
Racing is good sport. It’s a great sport, when you see a Pierre Jourdan or a Pocket Power. It isn’t always good business. Racing is a way of living, and a way of thinking. It has its own language and its own humour. It is loaded with danger, physical and financial, and it comes with a hint of conspiracy. It doesn’t necessarily build character, but it throws up some great characters.
Like Syd Laird, who once so simply explained his outrage at being short-headed in a July. “I don’t mind losing” he said, “I just don’t like getting beat”.
Think of Damon Runyon. Yes, he was American, but he spoke in the endless present tense for all who play the horses. He gave us the line that explains any outrage that happens on any racecourse, anywhere “Well, it is racing”. Or Andrew Fortune : “Second sucks”.
Or the great Syd Garrett, whose legacy still flows in the veins of Charles Laird, Alec Laird and Dennis Drier. A council inspector once told Syd he had too many flies around his stables.”How many am I allowed to have?”. Syd asked him, ever reasonable.
And there is Mike Bass, who once preferred to say nothing when his horses came home, not publicly any way. People used to stare at him, like they were gazing at the Mona Lisa, guessing what he was thinking. Mike’s horses did the talking for him. They spoke well.