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Peter Haigh's column: Peter and Angus in with the right crowd.

THE prize for understatement of the week so far has to go to the white South African nutter in jail-one hopes in perpetuity-for having chopped the head off a passer-by because he needed the skull for a black magic ritual. (Well, you know how it is. What with the supermarkets' refusal to stock them, the filth giving you hassle and security cameras in graveyards you just can't get yourself a decent head when you need one these days).

Now supposedly converted to Christianity, this decidedly dodgy-looking individual-who had an air about him that reminded you powerfully of the fact that all of us probably carry around a few dinosaur genes-sat in his cell, trying hard to give an impression of extreme and new-found holiness, with two apparently gullible persons.

These were the policeman who had arrested him and a profoundly inarticulate pastor who, before they had everyone join hands for a group prayer, wanted to know how he had got involved in all this Satanism stuff in the first place.

"Well," said lizard features-and, if you did not hear it, you are just going to have to imagine that lovely Seth Effreekan eccent-"I guess I just fell in with the wrong crowd."

This is, of course, often a problem. Those of us who started punting at an early age would almost certainly come up with a similar reply.

However, I'm not sure it provides a full explanation. I mean, doesn't one actually have to have a congenital propensity to punt in the first place? And what about the other thing? Surely you have to have a certain innate inclination in that direction. It cannot be enough for those rowdy kids on the corner just to say one day: "I know, fellers. Lit's chop the hid off a stranger. Then we cin use it for a noice bleck mess."

But these are deep waters, and we must return to the theme.

The second prize for understatement has to go to Dermot Weld, a man who would know exactly what to say to the wrong crowd if they ever came a- callin'. Speaking at Irish racing's equivalent of the storming of the Bastille on Tuesday, Weld said: "It is very sad that it has come to this, and that intelligent people cannot sit down and negotiate for the common good."

How true, as they say in Belfast and Jerusalem and one or two other places that have no doubt already crossed your mind. How very true. And if, as appears to be the case, every single element of the sport in Ireland is united in condemnation of the Turf Club's determination to cling, at whatever cost, to absolute power, how very restrained too.

Who is right in this dispute? The Turf Club, or the revolutionaries?

Well, this column would not dare to comment on Irish racing politics.

And anyway, there is no need to, because there is quite enough politics in British racing to contend with. Which brings us to some more entries in the Understatement Derby.

FOR the time being, I am going to overlook two remarks overheard in the betting shop, namely, "Been a lot of rain lately", and "Not really a great year for Cecil". Instead, I will concentrate on the undoubted paddock pick-a casual observation from a friend on seeing a photograph of Peter Savill and Angus Crichton-Miller apparently sharing a joke. "Hello," he said, "I thought those two didn't get on."

This is entirely true. Or it has been. Oil does not get on with water. Fire does not get on with ice. Mongeese do not, as a general rule, get on with cobras. And Peter and Angus do not meet for pints and a laugh.

But necessity, as one or two cellmates have found out, makes strange bedfellows. Here, united by the necessity of a united front against the forces of darkness (aka the big bookmakers and a few others) were two men who quite possibly have it in their power to decide whether racing sinks or swims.

In the past, the chairmen of the BHB and RCA have not been buddies (another contender obviously trained to the minute). They have argued. They have traded insults. Now and then, in coded language, because persons of this status do not point fingers at each other and shout "You're bonkers, you are", they have even questioned each other's sanity.

Looking at them the other day, you would have thought they had never had a cross word. How nice. How Dermot Weld, seeing two intelligent people working for the common good like this, would have purred.

Now keep it up boys. Always remember that, as the man after whom they named the pub in which you met used to say, jaw-jaw is better than war- war.

And whatever you do in the next few months-we're talking media rights now, OK?-don't either of you go falling in with the wrong crowd.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Sports
Author:Haigh, Peter
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Oct 19, 2000
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