In the run-up to the Cheltenham Festival this week, most horse racing folk were talking about the clash between Denman and Kauto Star in the Gold Cup. But in the press room at the Gloucestershire course, all eyes will be on a different clash – Alan Lee of The Times versus Colin Mackenzie of the Daily Mail.
The two racing correspondents are each part-owners of horses set to line-up in the Jewson Novices Handicap Chase today. Lee is part of the cricket-loving Yes-No-Wait-Sorries syndicate that owns Nudge and Nurdle, while Mackenzie (the man who, with Brian Vine, discovered Ronnie Biggs in Brazil to give the Daily Express a massive scoop), is part of a syndicate that owns the appropriately named Fleet Street.
It’s a minor miracle that Fleet Street is racing at all. He’s had to overcome two tendon injuries and an attack of equine MRSA, which almost killed him.
But Mackenzie’s fortunes as an owner are improving. Last summer he ended a 40-year wait for a winner on the flat when the Betchworth Kid won a small race. Mackenzie was known by that nickname when he started out on the Express.
Colleagues spotted that he was always rushing out to the betting shop and, as he’d been brought up in Betchworth and the Cincinnati Kid was the hit movie at the time, it seemed a suitable monicker.
Both Nudge and Nurdle and Fleet Street are priced at 20 to 1 with bookmaker Bet365. Nudge and Nurdle was also entered for Wednesday’s Royal and Sun Alliance Chase, but, as he is priced 100 to 1 for that contest, the clash with Fleet Street seems more likely.