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The Racing Post Spotlight verdict read: 'They don't come much weaker than this. Having said that, something has to win.' Having studied it, I wasn't so sure; In the second part of a week-long retirement special celebrating the work of our star writer David Ashforth, we reprint his account of a messy day at his beloved Brighton in August 2001.

LIKE debt and betting shops, once you get into Brighton, it's very difficult to get out. Which means that I'm poorly placed to tell you about the Shergar Cup, but ideally placed should you want a stick of rock from that shop near Brighton pier called, revealingly, The Rock Shop.

Before I forget, if you were wondering what had become of the William Hill shop that was always next to the Chequers on Preston Street but isn't any more, they've moved it round the corner. The shop's moved, but I expect the results in it are just the same.

On Thursday, when a hurricane reached West Sussex, it rained so much that the biggest pool of water you've ever seen collected on the far side of the pier. It was so big, there were boats on it.

The woman in The Rock Shop, who looked as if she'd just been dealt another 14 when the dealer had a picture, nodded at the monsoon and said: "It always rains on racedays. That'll be pounds 7.90."

You know someone's a regular at Brighton when they stand in the pouring rain and say: "I expect they'll come up the stands' side." Which is what Ian Carnaby said, as we tried to work out what was going to win the Ashforth-Carnaby Selling Handicap.

There's something perversely satisfying about having 18 runners for a 0-60 handicap and the top-rated on 47. The Racing Post Spotlight verdict read: 'They don't come much weaker than this. Having said that, something has to win.' Having studied it, I wasn't so sure.

George Duffield was what journalists call an 'eyecatching booking' for Milton Bradley's Lokomotiv. Lokomotiv hadn't won for a long time, but then most of them hadn't won at all, including Scenic Lady, who likes Brighton, and finished first. Royal Satin, who doesn't like it, finished last. All the others finished in-between.

For some reason, I've got a betting ticket in my pocket that reads 'Sam Harris. pounds 100 win, Stiletto'. Either it isn't mine, or I shouldn't have gone back to the cash machine.

I think that G Sparkes (7), who won later on Dodona, rides well, and I expect that LP Keniry, also (7), who won on Tapau, does too, although I didn't actually see that race.

After giving out the sticks of rock, we did what we usually do and trundled along to the Regency Tavern, where Mart produced this fantastic quiz.

Which biscuit won the 1975 Dante for Geoff Wragg and Willie Carson? On which course are there no 6f races? Which King George winner had previously won two Brighton Challenge Cups? That sort of thing. Question nine was rather rude about me and the answer was Six Mile Bottom. He won the Ormonde Stakes in 1982.

In the Chequers, they've got a new manageress, called Kate, who comes from Birmingham but still looks gorgeous. I think I may have fallen in lust with her just after Rocking Billy played Twist And Shout and just before Hit The Road Jack.

Rocking Billy, who got dressed as a teddy boy in the 1950s and forgot to change, and has the most amazing record collection, told me in his kindly way that I don't know my Billy Furys from my Eden Kanes, and proved it by playing Halfway To Paradise, which was Billy Fury, and Forget Me Not, which wasn't.

But then it's difficult remembering that far back, as anyone trying Mart's question number 87 will know. Which EL Doctorow novel and early 20th century music craze won the 1964 Richmond Stakes? Eventually, inevitably, we ended up in the casino at the bottom of Preston Street, where a lady at the door smiled one of those welcoming smiles which, roughly translated, says "here's another one" and, when you smile back, becomes "silly sod".

Anyway, after a while Ian had a big pile of chips next to him at the roulette table, even if they were only yellow ones; Howard was pushing his on to a rich variety of numbers, according to some deeply scientific system, and Pat was doing rather well at poker. I admire a woman for that.

Both the blackjack tables were occupied by a colony of permanent residents who sat on, grimly determined, even after the dealer dealt himself a six, then a picture, and then spoilt everything with a five. After that he promptly followed up by dealing himself another six, followed by a picture and a four.

Mercifully, I never did get a seat but, when I got back to my hotel, I did have a long conversation with a woman standing on the favoured side of the front door, while I stood on the unfavoured side, trying to remember what the secret code number was to get in.

It was 1-9-7-6, which I should have known from Mart's question 15 - in which year did a book of verse by Ted Hughes win the St Leger? That's easier than on which racecourse did Brigadier Gerard win two races as a two-year-old? I've no idea what the answer is, but I do know I've got a thumping headache.

If you don't mind, I think I'll give Ascot a miss, and see if that nice little coffee shop on the front, along with the sea breeze, make any difference. They didn't last time.

PS. According to Mart, the answers are Hobnob, Sandown, Park Top, Ragtime and Leicester, in that order. Oh, and Ted Hughes's book of verse was called Crow.

PPS. Will the woman who was in the Chequers with a raincoat with a label in it that says Harrods please get in touch. God knows how but, as well as my own raincoat, I seem to have got yours. It's a lot nicer than mine, but it doesn't fit.


Many happy afternoons were spent at Brighton, where Ian Carnaby and David Ashforth sponsored a race - below left they present a stick of rock and a copy of Brighton Rock to winning trainer Rupert Arnold (centre). Below right: local teddy boy Rocking Billy
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Jan 4, 2011
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