Surf and Turf: Road to future lined with signposts to past

Doncaster: drinks at the Yorkshire track were the subject of polite complaints

Doncaster: drinks at the Yorkshire track were the subject of complaints

  PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (  

 By Robin Gibson 9:46AM 25 OCT 2016 

RPSunday columnist Robin Gibson on ITV racing, TripAdvisor reviews and the Betfair forum

THE internet seemed like speedy boarding to the future, but it reeks of the past. The net’s ubiquity is accompanied by the ubiquity of almost anything anyone can be bothered to dredge up, from whenever.

Why, just this week an innocent search for ITV Racing (the quest goes on) turned up the Wikipedia entry for the ITV Seven. For modern-shaped readers, the ITV Seven consisted of seven races (weather permitting) on ITV every Saturday in the old times. It was also the name of a tricky associated bet (“exceptionally hard” says Wikipedia).

Now it’s been announced that Brough Scott, an ITV Seven presenter, will be back on ITV Racing next year. Sadly, parts of racing sometimes express a stubborn desire to avoid the present, and possibly the future, preferring to make like a lamplighters’ convention with 8oz of bacon and 3oz of lard for the catering.

But it’s good to have a link to your foundations and a bit of gravitas – otherwise we’d all be sort of floating in the air – and the addition of Scott to the ITV team provides both.

There was appreciation for BS on Twitter. Gaby Grummitt
(@gabgrum71) said: “Return of Brough Scott, proper old school, excellent” and Joseph Riley (@tynebadger) said: “Hopefully, Brough Scott on a bit to add some gravitas.”

User Dean Pickering (@PickeringDean) was slightly blunt: “Have they dug up Brough Scott?” while caseyjones (@_casey__jones_) added: “Good – Brough Scott’s return from the wilderness”, a location that might have surprised Scott (@broughscott), a man so busy he has his own website (, who chipped in: “Great to be back on ITV Racing – it’s a long time since 1972!”

One tweeter making a prickly point was Mack Gray (@MackGray4): “No Cunningham, McGrath or Ramsden, all looks a bit southern and snooty.” Could ITV, home of Coronation Street and Frank Sidebottom’s Fantastic Shed Show, be southern and snooty?

You can’t see it. In other ITV news, the Twitter account isn’t going yet. Or at least we don’t know which one of the four ITV racing accounts it is.

Equally mysterious is this appalling weather. It appears about now every year and goes on for months. Some say the adverse conditions herald the jumps season – but if that’s so, what has been going on since April 24? I’ve always associated this lurch into winter with the November Handicap, a Flat race in a jumps climate.

It used to more or less close down the Flat season, and it still does. But Champions Day has diluted its impact, what with its collection of somewhat Ascot-y, southern, snooty championship races and its annexation of the jockeys’ championship awards, which used to be dished out in the November rain at Doncaster.

Doncaster’s website ( still gives the NH a little big-up, and flags guest appearances by Joe Johnson (snooker world champ 30 years ago) and the Flashbacks (six decades of hits) to boost the ‘season finale’ meeting. But it’s hard to see it as a finale nowadays.

More interesting are the 704 reviews Donny has on TripAdvisor. It comes seventh of 49 things to do in Doncaster and you’ve got to say British racegoers promise some salvation for humanity.

They are generous and tolerant. They complain politely about the price of drinks (true – we all know how much actual Pimm’s is in one of those jugs) and NO FLUSHING TOILETS and NO HAND WASHING and still dish out four-star ratings.

They know they are fortunate to suffer these problems only at Doncaster and not in some bombed-up hellhole, and racecourses know they are fortunate to be patronised by a mild-mannered crew. Everyone’s happy (but slightly skint and grubby).

The sad news this week of the death of Nick Fox, naps champion, one-time lead tipster in the Post, likeable thinker and good-natured sceptic, led me back, after many years off, to the Betfair forum, which is like being led back to the days of saucy postcards, scurvy and being
able to beat your lad with impunity.

It also led to a cheery debate about old-school tipsters including the Morning Star’s, Cayton. Depending on who you believe, Cayton could barely identify a horse never mind a winner, or he was a serial naps table winner.

On the internet, believe only half of the half you believe in print. One forumite was advising comrades to put their clocks back last Saturday.

And look at this. Contributor ‘’ says of Cayton: “He never tipped a winner – if the paper was still in print Richard Birch would be their tipster.” Now that’s completely wrong on three counts at least.


For The web. Functional on mobile (

First impressions Bursting at the seams.

What they say Comparative directory of online bookmakers; crucial facts about most-visited bookmakers; none is preferred because of affiliation.

What punters say “We are gamblers, we are playing to lose but they are stealing our money”; “They only want to cater for problem gamblers”; “A very bad company who trade through forked tongues”; “Suddenly your money disappears from your account without you playing”.

Note: these comments are about bookmakers, not

What’s good If you’re interested in bookmakers, it’s interesting. In-house reviews are pretty thorough and technical, punter reviews are 90 per cent fuming, 10 per cent barely tolerant. The sheer range of bookies is mildly mindblowing. Who bets with SuperLenny? Or Ohmbet? (“Ohm is worth trying out. But there are better bookmakers”, says a kind review.)

What’s bad Not bad as such, but by its nature heavily loaded with affiliate links. It’s upfront about it and states that its Twitter account (@top100b) highlights bookie promotions.

Marks Like wasting time and being gently entertained? This site’s for you.

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