Tuesday, April 30, 2013

British racing faces crisis as super-rich Sheikh Mohammed's horses fail drugs tests

This piece of mine appears in the Daily Express.

HORSE RACING has long been associated with scandals but the news that 11 horses representing the powerful Godolphin operation, owned by Sheikh Mohammed, the fabulously wealthy ruler of oil-rich Dubai, have failed drug tests is arguably the biggest bombshell ever to hit the sport.

You can read the whole article here.

You can also hear a radio interview with me on this subject, on BBC Radio Wales, here. Item starts at 1hr 22 mins into the programme.

UPDATE: Trainer Mahmood al-Zarooni has been warned off for eight years.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

In Memoriam: The innocent victims of NATO's attack on RTS, 23rd April 1999


Darko Stoimenovski (26), technician
Nebojsa Stojanovic (27), technician
Dragorad Dragojevic (27), security guard
Ksenija Bankovic (28), video mixer
Jelica Munitlak (28), make-up artist
Dejan Markovic (30), security guard
Aleksandar Deletic (31), cameraman
Dragan Tasic (31), technician
Slavisa Stevanovic (32), producer
Sinisa Medic (33), programme designer
Ivan Stukalo (34), foreign programming specialist
Milan Joksimovic (47), security officer
Branislav Jovanovic (50), programme operator
Slobodan Jontic (54), set director
Milovan Jankovic (59), mechanic
Tomislav Mitrovic (61), programme director.

Killed on the day that NATO bombed a television station for not toeing the NATO party line. 
More on this (as yet) unpunished war crime here.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

SOLD: Skorpios- The £100m paradise isle where Onassis married Jackie Kennedy

This feature article of mine appears in the Daily Express. The buyer of the island has been confirmed as Ekaterina Rybolovleva.

WHO hasn’t dreamed of one day owning their very own island in the sun? For Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis, then one of the richest men in the world, the dream came true in 1962 when he bought the beautiful 200-acre island of Skorpios, which lies in the Ionian Sea off the western coast of Greece

The heavily forested island has been owned by the Onassis family for more than 50 years and has been very close to their hearts. It was on Skorpios in 1968 that Aristotle Onassis married Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, the widow of American president John F Kennedy. Aristotle, who died in 1975, is buried on the island as are his daughter Christina and son Alexander.

But now it seems the dream is over. If recent reports are to be believed, Onassis’s granddaughter Athina has agreed to sell Skorpios for £100million to an unnamed Russian billionaire, marking the end of the island’s association with a family who despite their great wealth have known more than their fair share of tragedy.

You can read the whole piece here.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Intelligent Punter's Guide to the 2013 US Masters

You can read my guide to the first golfing Major of the season here.  If you do have a bet on the event, good luck with your selections.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Don't believe the myth of Thatcherism: The 1970s were great

A topical piece from the archive: this article of mine on the neoliberal myth that Margaret Thatcher 'saved' Britain in 1979,  from The First Post/The Week in 2009.


Friday, April 05, 2013

The 2013 Grand National: The Intelligent Punter's Guide

This piece of mine appears over at The Week.

THE TIMES they are-a-changin. After two horses died at last year's Grand National, the Aintree authorities have made further changes to the world's most famous steeplechase in an attempt to make it safer. They include levelling the landing zones at some fences, including Becher's Brook, where the ill-fated Synchronised and According to Pete both came down 12 months ago, changing the make-up of the fences, and moving the start of the race forwards by 90 yards.
These changes are not the only things that will be different about this year's race, due off at 4.15pm on Saturday. For the first time live television coverage will be provided by Channel 4, and not the BBC, which has shown the last 52 Grand Nationals.

You can read the rest of the piece and my profiles of the 40 runners in tomorrow's race here.

UPDATE: What a race- and great that all the horses and jockeys came back safely. I hope that the Guide to the runners proved helpful to those having a bet. Just one day later, winning jockey Ryan Mania had a crashing fall at Hexham and had to be airlifted to hospital. Here's my piece from today's The Week on why, compared to other sports professionals, jump jockeys really are a race apart.