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I've got enough on my plate without all this.

Byline: Alastair Down

IT IS entirely to be expected that when a new editor assumes control of a paper that a fresh agenda is set.

Thus it has been with bated breath and P45s clutched tightly to our bosoms, ample or otherwise, that we have waited since Bruce Millington's appointment in October to see his vision unfold for the future of the Racing Post.

Loath though I am to bite the hand that feeds me, the time has come to express increasing concern that the Millington era is already notable for victimising an increasing section of society, namely the overweight, the tubby, the rotund or the just plain fat.

Those of you who have met the Post's editor or seen the picture byline that accompanies his peerless, wise, Pulitzer Prizewinning weekly column will know that Bruce did not shove himself to the front of the queue when God was handing out what the women's magazines used to describe as 'unwanted pounds'.

Defiantly skinny, Bruce never carries house keys, as he just slips through the letterbox when he arrives home of an evening, and it may be his conviction that we should all be able to keep dry under a dandelion leaf in a cloudburst that is driving the Post's subliminal campaign against those of us built more for comfort than for Speedos.

Yesterday's edition was a typical example of sizeism. On page 14, my friend Peter Thomas was to be found conjuring up derogatory images of champion trainer Paul Nicholls blitzing the beaches of Dubai in his skintights. It should be pointed out that being comfortably padded has never stymied the esteemed Nicholls in any direction, and that two Hennessy wins can by no means be described as his full tally of successful rides.

Then on page 17 we had 'Battle Of The Bulge - slimming advice from jockeys'. Now, at the risk of my specialised subject being the bleedin' obvious, the last people in the world who know anything about being overweight are jockeys. The very fact that they are jockeys means they are thin. You never see decking round a jockey's house as they are all terrified of falling through one of the cracks and being lost forever in a pile of fag-ends and discarded ring-pulls.

The fact that someone "struggles to do 7st 5lb" has nothing to do with being overweight, nor is it a struggle. I struggle to do 7st 5lb, but my struggle is to do it just the twice. That, dear reader, is a weight problem. I no more wish to read jockeys' tips on dieting than I do those of Messrs Uzi and Kalashnikov on world peace.

I see all this anti-fatty stuff as, literally, the thin end of the wedge.

Where will it all end? Will our 'cold trainers list' soon be augmented by one for 'fat bastards'? It is probably a mere matter of time before the Coral Naps Competition & Press Challenge has the word 'up' inserted one from the end, and we get the latest news from the personal training centres. Poor Big Dave Osborne will be evicted from the Phat Room in favour of Tiny Tim Little, and meetings from Plumpton cease to be covered until it loses weight.

THERE is no such problem on Channel 4, which as part of its policy favouring minorities employs in the mildly corpulent McCririck and I two of the fattest men ever to darken a wide-angle lens. Yet even on C4 this insidious assault from the emaciated is gathering pace.

Minutes before going on air at the Cheltenham Boylesports meeting I received into my ear the instruction: "Straighten your tie, Alastair - although it's hard to see if you are wearing one under those chins."

"Enough and no more (pudding)!" say I. I would point out that we won the war under one of the great fatties of all time, whose idea of lifting weights was to raise a glass of brandy and a fine cigar to his lips. What's more, it is a littleknown fact that Mother Teresa was well over 20st in her early years in Calcutta before succumbing to a dodgy bhajee.

So no more of this sniping at the amply formed. No more denigration of Nicholls and whooping up the likes of David Pipecleaner and Nicky Slenderson. The Racing Post has always been a broad church, with some of us broader than others. Our esteemed editor may well be able to earn a few quid moonlighting on War On Want posters, but those of us who have to keep a weather eye out when swimming in the sea because the Japanese are still whaling add more than a little weight to this esteemed organ. Must close to continue my autobiography, snappily titled Reach For The Pie.

'I struggle to do 7st 5lb, but my struggle is to do it just the twice'
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Jan 8, 2008
Words:812
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