Home comforts in the age of Zoom lull Sharp into sleeping on job
Zoom meetings, it seems, will still be here a long time after Covid-19 has gone and there is an awful lot to be said for not having to leave one’s home office.
But there are downsides; it leaves our bookshelves open to inspection and you cannot so much as scratch yourself or worse without an audience,
Big Brother, and with the negatives in mind, news comes from the east.
With the Point-to-Point Owners and Riders Association (PPORA) doing its level best to prepare for a return of the sport after last season between the flags was stopped in its prime in mid-March, an evening Zoom meeting of board members and officers was held last week and there was a lot to cover.
One of the meeting’s attendees was John Sharp, a former chairman of PPORA, who is well known in pointing circles and racing stables across the land. As an amateur/ point-to-point jockey he rode 198 winners but, I would suggest, he has put more back into the amateur sport since than he ever took out of it as a rider.
In the 1980s, he hooked up with not just one but two of the most prolific pointers of all time; he rode Stanwick Lad to 42 wins and won 32 races on Watersport – which kind of puts Frankie Dettori’s 13 on Enable into miserly context.
In his professional life he was one of the people who drove the revolution which saw the feeding of scoops of oats, bran, boiled barley, linseed and the like to racehorses become a complete all-in-one feed, and as Dodson & Horrell’s principal salesman, he charmed its way into nearly every yard in Newmarket.
With his wife, Mel, he now runs his own successful business, Sharp Nutrition, advising trainers on all aspects of horse feed. Like humans, and to no less an extent, racehorses are what they eat.
With the pubs open again, not having had much social interaction over lockdown and with her husband booked in on his long evening Zoom call, Mrs Sharp opted for a girls’ night out in a local. At the end of the evening, however, she looked at her mobile phone and found several missed calls from the chairman of PPORA and the meeting, fellow feed merchant Mark Buchan.
She thought nothing more of it, and when she returned home her husband was already in bed. She asked him if the meeting had gone well, he mumbled, “yes”, and she too went to bed.
It was only the following morning that the reason for the missed calls was revealed. Towards the end of the meeting her husband had been due to report on a specific issue.
However, before it was his turn, he had made rather too much use of his electric reclining chair and, by the time he was due on, with only his forehead and feet visible to his audience, he was sound asleep. The calls, in the hope that Mel was in the next-door room, were to see if she could wake him.
There, but for the grace of God, go all of us. His presentation is now on the agenda for the next meeting. He is neither the first nor will he be the last to lose focus on an armchair ride.
With the brilliant Battaash, the Charlie Hills-trained, serial record-breaker due at York on Friday for the Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes, the racecourse has installed a three-metre by two-metre “stopwatch” on the winning line.
It is in the fervent hope that the “Bat-mobile”, having in July lowered his own course record at Goodwood, beats his own five-furlong track record of 55.90 on the Knavesmire, which he set when winning last year’s race, shaving a quarter of a second off the previous record set by Dayjur in 1990.
However, for quick times you need quick ground and the Yorkshire weather, forecast to be unsettled all week, looks like having the final say in any record-breaking attempt.
Speed merchant: Battaash, with Jim Crowley aboard, is aiming to break York’s course record