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Alastair Down on Friday: Credits roll as Brough calls time at Sandown.

Byline: Alastair Down

BROUGH SCOTT'S last hurrah as a Channel 4 presenter at Sandown last Saturday was a day of rich sport, many a laugh and no small degree of emotion.

His 30-year stint in front of the cameras is a remarkable enough achievement. Couple it with a career as one of the most distinguished sports journalists of his generation and throw in the fact he suffers badly from `Oaksey's Syndrome' (a congenital inability to say `no' to any charity work) and you get a measure of this complex man.

At Channel 4's mid-morning conference on Saturday he was presented with a wonderful painting by Katie O'Sullivan and made a short but funny speech against the usual stream of friendly abuse and barracking from the cheap seats.

But, unbeknown to him, he was in for a bigger and more challenging surprise. We all left the second-floor meeting to join the Channel 4 crew, who had decided to pay their own tribute by lining the long flight of steps down to ground level and applauding Brough through their midst. When the great man walked round the corner and a cheer rose it is fair to say the Scott gob could be filed under "smacked".

He says: "That was the most challenging moment of the day-I was really shaken by that."

The crew's tribute meant an enormous amount to Brough, who has always encouraged the democracy of the Channel 4 team. Nobody tells you-but you learn hellish quick-that the programme relies utterly on the myriad professionals who do the real work and, occasional hangover permitting, are incredibly helpful in the way they do it.

But Brough's day of surprises was still not over. After the Whitbread a well-known 100-year-old duly presented trophies to the winning owner, trainer, jockey and lass and then the public address announced there was to be a further presentation by Her Majesty.

Brough says: "When you are voicing over pictures of the Queen Mother you choose your words carefully-I think I said she had seen a 100 summers come and go- but there comes a time when you are waiting for her to finish and to move on to the next event.

"Then I heard the PA say there was to be another presentation and immediately I thought, `Oh, right, it'll be some old codger like the head groundsman finally tottering off into retirement years after he should have done'.

"I remember thinking, `Well, I hope they get the old fellow dealt with quickly' when my name was announced and I realised that the hopeless old codger was me. Never have I been more happily impaled on the spear of my own cynicism."

After such a day most folk would have retired to the bar and done some serious research into the course's champagne stocks. Not Brough, a mental and physical fidget of the first water. Saturday evening saw him doing duty at the Isle of Wight Hunt Quiz and, with his son driving him, he ad-libbed 900 words over the phone for the Sunday Telegraph and then did a rewrite of the piece on the ferry.

Late Saturday night and all Sunday were spent in the company of his family and he says: "We had a wonderful weekend and, as for my last day, there was not a shred of sadness about it." That is how it should be. And that is how it was.
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Copyright 2001 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:May 4, 2001
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