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Stroll with a namedropper through racing's Rich List.

Byline: Paul Haigh

I've always liked Rich Lists, even though I've never quite worked out why I never seem to be on them. (Something to do with the wrong horses? There has to be more to it than that).

They're useful, too, providing a handy reminder for some of us of who it is we ought to be sucking up to this year, while for others they are examples of our supposedly wonderful social system's more entertaining inequalities.

What was particularly interesting about John `Millionaire' Randall's review of British racing's Rich List was the terse way he `explained' the various big guys' wealth.

It was both informative and subtly disrespectful. "Pork", for example, was given as the reason for Graham Roach's substantial funds. "Meat" is apparently what keeps the Vestey family out of the Jobcentre.

Nothing wrong with butchery, of course. But it does help the rest of us keep our natural deference in check. Actually, John seems to have been quite kind. Nobody got `Porn', for example; or `Money Laundering'; or just plain `Theft' - which is a bit confusing for those of us who've never really doubted the truism that `Behind every great fortune lies a great crime'.

Perhaps the truism isn't necessarily true anymore - unless you accept, like some critics, that Andrew Lloyd Webber, for instance, is guilty of crimes against music (I'm not one of 'em, yer lordship, honest), or that John Hales should be arrested for unleashing the Teletubbies.

In general, though, the people on John's list seem quite a reputable bunch. I suppose we shouldn't really be too surprised. Some of the crimes must have been hundreds of years ago.

Distant, though. Remote, somehow. I suppose we shouldn't be surprised by that either.

Wasn't it Scott Fitzgerald who said "The rich are different"? (Now who the hell was it who replied: "That's right. They've

got more money"?).

Intrigued by this remoteness, I went down the list trying to work out which of them I had spoken to in a quarter of a century, if not in racing, then at least on racing's periphery.

Don't get too worked up by the namedropping. I am a namedropper, I admit, and it's one of my great sources of pride that I'm the only person on the planet who has had lunches with the Aga Khan, the Aberystwyth Town Drunk (a title for which there is not inconsiderable competition) and the late, great Clint - and not all at the same time either. But namedropping isn't the purpose of this exercise: just curiosity.

Robert Sangster is definitely one. In the course of an interview he and I once had a seven-bottle lunch at The Nunnery. I'm not sure he remembers it. I'm not sure I do either.

I once interviewed Lord Howard de Walden, but he is not with us anymore, so I suppose he doesn't count.

Isn't it interesting that David Sullivan is now richer than the Queen?

He showed me around his house in Chingford. It was heavily fortified against marauding feminists, and had a drawing room from which (glass door) you could walk straight through into the indoor swimming pool. I wonder if he has still got it, or whether he has moved somewhere posh.

I once saw Lord Daresbury in a restaurant, and he said "Hello". I saw Michael Tabor when he won the Kentucky Derby, and even asked him a question (I think). I once went to a lunch given by Chris Wright, the record magnate, where I sat next to a nice Liverpudlian called Sonia, who was quite famous at the time. Peter Savill invited me to Ascot last year; and I went, complete with hat.

I saw Ronnie Wood at Punchestown in 2000, and thought that, with his pure white face and improbably jet-black hair, he looked just like a witch. Sting once used to be friends with a friend of a girl I once used to `see'.

Andrew Cohen once wrote me a very cross letter for suggesting that Israel voting for Sharon might just be the cause of some of the trouble in the Middle East.

I've spotted Her Majesty a few times, though we've never been introduced. When `Stoker' eventually succeeds his father I'll be able to say I know the Duke of Devonshire.

I met Peter Harris in Oslo on the day Acarine won the Norwegian Grand National (and Dancing Brave won the Arc).

I've seen films with Sean Connery in them. And, er, that's just about it.

So where are the rest of them? Different? They're not just different. They're bloody invisible. Come

on out now, you rich

guys. There's no need to

be shy.

nRead Paul Haigh in the Racing Post Weekender every Wednesday
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:May 10, 2003
Words:787
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