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Alistair Down: Pack it in T om, give those moaning bookies a br eak.

Byline: Alistair Down

OUR planet is host to many abiding mysteries, chief among which figure such life-shaping questions as ``How can anyone eat prunes?'', ``Why does God only work part-time?'' and ``How is it that nine out of ten American presidents have a brain the size of a walnut?''

But, on the racing front, the current most unfathomable conundrum is ``Why on earth does Tom Segal go on working for a living?''

Unless you are a Racing Postreader recently returned from a year-long cruise under the arctic icecap in one of our out-of-date nuclear submarines, you will know that Segal is currently in the sort of form that makes Nostradamus look like someone with all the vision of our old mate the blind bat.

On King George day he put up a double at 13-2 and 11-4, while over the previous four Saturdays he lobbed grenades down the front of the bookies' trousers at 12-1, 5-1, 14-1 and Sergeant Cecil at a mouth-watering 20-1 in what used to be the Pitmens' Derby, before Mrs Thatcher put them to her ideological sword alongside most of the country's manufacturing industry.

So as Tom flicks through the Porsche catalogue in his Armani jim-jams of a Sunday morning, while his wife tells Gordon Ramsay what they fancy for lunch, what persuades him to go ontoiling alongside we mere mortals on the Postrather than just have pounds 10,000 on every bright idea that comes into his barn-like brain?

Why doesn't he go off and run the World Bank, or move into No. 11 Downing Street with a curt ``On your bike Gordon you nitwit P resbyterian know-nothing, when did you last find the winner of the Old Newton Cup at 14s?''

Needless to say, his current splurge of winners has had the Post's trumpet-blowers puffing out their cheeks harder than Louis Armstrong. Hardly a superlative has rested safe in its bed, as our saintly subs dip ever deeper into the pot of praise along the lines of ``Strong men weep as sizzling Segal slays satchelmen'', or ``Bloodied bookies beg for mercy'' and ``Notfair say Betfair''.

BUT, needless to say, our efforts to remind you that the winning flock of Segal's (geddit?) is truly awesome and possibly the most significant world event since Jesus turned the water into wine - always the most impressive of his miracles, in my opinion - or somebody invented the wheel in order to stop the world being overrun by hedgehogs, is as nothing compared with the drivel that the ``beleaguered big bookmakers'' trot out.

Now please don't get me wrong, there are some very charming fellows employed as bookies' spokesmen and it can be a very tough life pouring drinks for clients on big sponsorship days and writing random 2,000 Guineas ante-post prices down on small slips of paper after Reg Sprigg's 50-1 chance Stunted Rabbit has won the Middle Park.

But you should not pay too much attention to the utterances of this fine body of men, who are paid to send up distress rockets like Stalin's Hornpipes and have us reaching for our hankies like middle-aged women watching the closing scene of Casablanca.

Sir Mark Prescott, who used to train older horses in Newmarket before turning exclusively to two-year-olds, has a saying: ``When a jockey starts to talk, let your mind begin to wander elsewhere.'' The same policy should be adopted when you hear one of the Old Enemy's gophers begin to press the waffle pedal.

Thus we get Tommy T rotoutripe, spokesman for well-known bookmakers Thumbscrew and Overround, reporting: ``It's been carnage, four managers in Essex have topped themselves and only yesterday our managing director, Ferdinand Phatcat, had to downgrade his new yacht order to the 140-foot model. Any more of this and several members of the board will have to take their boys out of Eton and send them to slum it at Harrow.''

Bertie Bollox, of Onebornevriminit Holdings, moaned: ``Tom-Tom is beating us like a drum. We have a vicar, two psychiatric nurses and four anxiety control counsellors on permanent duty at head office, and because of super, soaraway, psychic Segal, we are down to our last pounds 800m.

``He makes Leonardo da Vinci look like the village idiot and Einstein like Benny from Crossroads. It's torture, they had more fun during the Spanish Inquisition. Only yesterday I had to sell the missus, and if you've seen her you'll know how desperate we are.''

All I can say is ``Keep taking the tablets, Tom''. There is no sweeter music to punters' ears than the squealing of stuck pigs. Bravo and lots of encores, please.
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Jul 26, 2005
Words:769
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