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HAPPY DAYS; Friendship survives Nashwan plunge.

PICTURE the scene. It's Derby day. You're earning pounds 175 a week in your first job, and have placed almost four times that amount on Nashwan, the 7-4 favourite to land the big race.

But there's a sub-plot to rival any Agatha Christie tale. You've struck the bet with a friend at work, while another good pal, who claims he is close to joining the 'cardboard city crew' outside Waterloo Station, has lumped his last grand on 5-2 secondfavourite Cacoethes. All three of us were working together in the same room that June afternoon in 1989. I swear you could hear the independent pounding of three hearts as the Derby field cantered to post.

Overnight rain at Epsom had lessened the chance of market drifter Cacoethes, but Nashwan was all the rage in the betting. Cacoethes led into the straight, yet Willie Carson had still to make his move. When he pressed the button, Nashwan's response was electric, and he stormed home by five lengths.

The situation was surreal.

I'd wanted to shout my usual "pump, pump Willie" at the furlong marker, yet couldn't. It would have been terrible manners to even raise a smile.

One happy; two sad. More than 20 years later we're still firm friends.
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Jun 4, 2011
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