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Racing: We'll miss you Dodger.

ONE of racing's enduring appeals is the rich variety of characters who, week in and week out, help it turn on its inimitable axis.

On Thursday evening we lost a real stalwart when Simon "Dodger" McCartney was killed in a car crash on his way home from Stratford races. He was 69.

"Dodger", as he was universally known, was a professional punter and a jumps man to his bootstraps. His nickname was earned in his early years as a result of the speed with which he'd dodge round the ring in search of the best price.

The term "pro punter" conjures up images of some Flash Harry with a mouth open wider than the Channel Tunnel and not the sort of bloke you'd want sitting round the kitchen table for supper.

But Dodger was nothing like that. I didn't know him as well as I would have liked, he was always a treat to meet, unfailingly polite, endlessly informed, acute and a real lover of the game.

In recent years he had fought - and held at bay - the scourge of throat cancer, something that makes the randomness of his death in a motor car even harder to stomach.

I returned home on Friday night from the harrowing funeral of an old friend who had died from cancer in her late forties, leaving a husband, three young kids and a legacy of laughter through programmes she made like "Drop The Dead Donkey" that will live on but fail to console her friends.

The news of Dodger's death made a grim day worse. He wasn't the maker of nations and didn't invent the wheel. But he understood jump racing, loved it and I never heard a bad word said about him.

Our rich mix is diluted by his departure.

CAPTION(S):

SIMON McCARTNEY
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jul 7, 2002
Words:301
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