Test­ing out the host­ing skills of David Crosse

Mel Brodie takes a punt on a Mon­day night at Royal Wind­sor Race­course

The Wharf - - Wharf -

Imag­ine if you went horse rac­ing with an ex­pert tip­ster who could only pre­dict win­ners. That was my ex­pe­ri­ence with jockey David Crosse at Royal Wind­sor Mon­day night races. The ex­cite­ment. The glory. The riches.

Be­ing a cor­po­rate hos­pi­tal­ity guest at this small, friendly and beau­ti­fully man­i­cured race­course, you get your own jockey as host, lu­mi­nar­ies of the rac­ing world in­clud­ing Colin West, who rode Desert Orchid to vic­tory no less than 17 times, but to­day it is David Crosse, aka The Or­a­cle.

He meets us at the race­course’s pri­vate jetty as we step off a French Broth­ers cruise boat, hav­ing caught the train from Water­loo into Wind­sor and Eton River­side and pulled in past the sports grounds of the pres­ti­gious boys’ col­lege and un­der the watch­ful win­dows of Wind­sor Cas­tle it­self. It’s all about ar­riv­ing in style. No Harry and Meghan spot­ting to­day, al­though the Queen ap­par­ently once joined the rac­ing throng ev­ery Mon­day.

David is cur­rently not rid­ing, hav­ing fallen and bro­ken his thumb. His plas­ter cast has set his hand in a per­ma­nent thumbs up po­si­tion.

This should have been our first clue to which way the day could go.

Keep­ing up with his pace and Ir­ish jockey pat­ter, lib­er­ally sprin­kled with “it’s all about the craic”, was fun and breath­less.

First stop, the Weigh­ing Room, usu­ally out of bounds to the pub­lic, where we learn that the jock­eys can sweat off half a stone in the sauna be­fore a race in or­der to get down to the re­quired weight. Then off to our box with its view over the long green straight to the fin­ish­ing line.

Mid-way through drinks, David ap­pears, clutch­ing a copy of the Rac­ing Post – and a whip. He pro­ceeds to pick on one of our party to hold out his hand. Has he done some­thing par­tic­u­larly naughty? A crack (not craic) sounds loudly as the whip de­scends. We gasp. But the re­cip­i­ent of the beat­ing is still beam­ing.

These days jock­eys use air whips up to a maximum of eight times in a race. Noisy and ef­fec­tive, but pain­less.

Hav­ing rat­tled through the race card with his tips for “on the nose” and each-way bets, and been as­sured that jock­eys are al­ways un­re­li­able tip­sters, we chew our pens, fur­row brows, make de­ci­sions and pile out to the Tote desk in the hos­pi­tal­ity area (al­though you can eas­ily take the ex­tra few steps to the real book­ies out­side).

Dur­ing our starters, it’s the first race. Plates are aban­doned as we head out to the bal­cony with the best view on the course to cheer on our horses. David’s each-way tip wins. I didn’t put any money on that horse. I re­alise I don’t like be­ing told what to do. This be­comes a pat­tern for the first three races as the ten­sion mounts, the squeals of de­light erupt and I rip up my Tote ticket.

By the fourth I’ve learnt to fol­low his ad­vice and start mak­ing a few pounds. Then we get an­other hos­pi­tal­ity perk – ex­clu­sive ac­cess to the start­ing gates.

David ban­ters with the jock­eys high in their sad­dles (there’s the craic again) and we ad­mire the quiet power of a tonne of race­horse gal­lop­ing out of the stalls up close.

So, imag­ine if you went horse rac­ing with a tip­ster who could not get it wrong. That was my ex­pe­ri­ence. Ex­cite­ment? Yes. Glory and riches? Un­for­tu­nately, no.

I was more con­vinced by his ar­gu­ment that jock­eys were rub­bish tip­sters than his tips un­til too late.

But I only went home £14 poorer than I’d started. That could have been so much worse.

All in all a great day and there were con­so­la­tion drinks and lis­ten­ing to live mu­sic af­ter the races had fin­ished. Odds on, I’ll be back. Take a tip from me.

‘‘ We ad­mire the quiet power of a tonne of race­horse gal­lop­ing out of the stalls Mel Brodie

Win­ning host David Crosse Mon­day nights at Wind­sor Race­course are prov­ing to be a pop­u­lar choice

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