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Horse Racing: From bathroom breaks to self-defence, Barney is never far from the spotlight.

Byline: Lee Mottershead at Shaftesbury Avenue

GRAEME McPHERSON (HRA) is interrogating Tom Queally (not HRA). After a tedious, drawn-out first couple of hours, the tension is starting to build. Then Barney butts in.

"Excuse me, Mr Chairman," says Curley.

"I'm sorry, Mr Curley," responds Patrick Hibbert-Foy (disciplinary panel main man, morning train from Yorkshire really quite late). "You will get your chance to speak later."

"No, no," retaliates Curley. "It's just that I'd like to go the bathroom."

There follows a good minute of to and fro, before Curley decides that his bladder can hold out until McPherson has finished interrogating.

Unfortunately, McPherson evidently enjoys a bit of interrogating (probably hell to live with) and, 30 minutes later, Hibbert-Foy notices the pained expression on Curley's face.

"I do think it would be wise for us to have a five-minute break now," says the chairman, flanked either side by fellow panellists Sandra Arkwright (nice lipstick, spitting image of Jill Chance from Crossroads) and Nicky Vigors (no lipstick, nothing like Jill Chance).

This time Curley agrees and heads off to powder his nose. It appears that everyone's noses need powdering, and not long after that everyone needs feeding. "Will the HRA provide lunch?" asks Curley, who gets both an affirmative answer and a sandwich. When they return, it's all about Curley, as it often was beforehand.

Earlier in proceedings, as the whole of the offending 1m6f race was played for the third, then fourth, then fifth time, Curley had appeared close to falling asleep, tilting his head right back and closing his eyes while still chewing the gum that has knocked him back from 50 ciggies a day to ten.

But in the afternoon, he truly is centre of attention, defending himself without any legal assistance.

Zabeel Palace is, says Curley, "a shit" and, like most of his horses, "a bit iffy". Queally is praised for having "no punters, that's no punters", but criticised for hitting the horse, who Curley had wanted to have "a happy experience".

Then Curley accuses McPherson of implying that he had been trying to get the gelding's handicap mark down at Nottingham. "I wasn't implying it," retorts an affronted McPherson. "I was putting it directly."

But when Curley bets McPherson that he can still get Zabeel Palace to win off his current mark, McPherson declines the offer.

Two wise men, then.
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:May 30, 2007
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