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Arrest that man!

I was at Ascot on Saturday, as a guest of the Ascot Authority, and enjoyed catching up with a number of racing people in the paddock.

There were lots of interesting stories going around, not least of which involved rumours of what was allegedly a set-up response to the famous day at Doncaster where Harry Findlay and Nic Coward almost came to blows.

The gossip was that Findlay was being encouraged to attend the racecourse on St Leger day on the basis that Paul Roy would be there.  Apparently, someone who shall remain nameless was trying to persuade Harry not to spend his Saturday at home watching sport on the box (as usual), while not only tabloid journalists but plain-clothed policemen were being set up to witness, and act upon, the fact that he “wouldn’t be able to control himself” if he were indeed to attend. “Wait, before ejecting him, til he has his hands on the lapels” the brief allegedly was, “so that the photographers can get a decent shot”.

It all sounds rather far-fetched, you might think. Except that something not dissimilar happened to me once (as I alluded to recently), when I was in Australia – way back in 2003, before I lived there, when I was just visiting to lobby for an onshore licence.

I was invited to the races at Rosehill by Tim Ryan, the Chief Executive of the Australian Bookmakers’ Association – a man who (in common with many, wags may say…) had never previously been known to say a good word about me. “Come on mate,” he told me. “I know we argue a lot in public: but I think it would be good to go out together for a day. I’d like to invite you as my guest. I’ll pick you up from your hotel and drop you back.”

Slightly bemused, I accepted – he made clear that he wasn’t taking no for an answer – and he duly came to pick me up. We drove to Rosehill; we had a lovely day, during which he introduced me to all sorts of people; and then he dropped me back. I remained completely confused as to why he had been so matey all of a sudden.

Two years later, by which time I was living in Sydney, I was recounting this story to someone else, and relating my general consternation about it. The guy told me it rang a bell, this story; he was sure he’d heard about Tim taking a chap from Betfair to the races. He said he was going to go back to his e-mail archive, to see if he could jog his memory.

Later that afternoon, he forwarded me the mail which did the job. Sent by Tim Ryan to everybody who was anybody, from the Racing Minister through the Chief of Police to the Stewards on raceourse, it read something like this:

Betfair is illegal in Australia! [which it wasn’t, by the way] Something ought to be done about it! The only reason that no action is taken is that no-one ever knows where to catch them, because they come in and out of the country without notice. But I can tell you that Mark Davies will be at Rosehill racecourse between 1pm and 5pm on [whatever the date was]. He should be arrested there so that a strong message is sent!

So maybe the Doncaster story isn’t so unlikely. Perhaps it’s just a well-worn technique.

Posted in Australia, Betfair, Betting industry, Stories.

Tagged with , , , , , , , .

3 Responses

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  1. ScottF says

    not to mention dobbing you in for a ‘raid’ from the Australian Federal Police for allegedly housing an illegal casino. He’s a bigger goose than Peter V’Landys….

  2. SuziQ says

    Wow, shocking but not surprising.

Continuing the Discussion

  1. Saturday’s press | Mark Davies linked to this post on September 29, 2010

    […] a certain amount of legs online, and it was the subject, when people weren’t talking about arrest rumours, of a fair bit of discussion at Ascot on Saturday. But frankly, I’m amazed it ever made it […]

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