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Martin Kelner, Journalist, Author and Radio Presenter.
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The better's dilemma
By Martin "Inveterate loser" Kelner on Dec 20, 2014 - 10:43:39 AM

One of my colleagues on this fine journal might have to help me out on this.   What's the protocol when watching a race in which the horse you have backed is leading, but quite clearly about to be overhauled until its rival falls at the final fence?   What I mean is, how happy are you allowed to be?  


Obviously if there is injury involved, either to horse or rider, one's glee will be muted, but in that period between your horse crossing the line and the extent of the damage to the unlucky faller being revealed, is it permitted to celebrate slightly?  


Maybe it depends on the size of your winnings.   Over 50 quid, a little light whooping and hollering perhaps?   Into four figures, and I dare say you could be forgiven for punching the air, though stopping short at gloating at your triumph in such unfortunate circumstances.


I should welcome guidance.   Not that it is happened over the past seven days.   It has been one of those weeks when I've been otherwise occupied when half-decent prospects in which I might have invested were winning; and either clueless or luckless on those afternoons when I have found myself at liberty.  


In the evenings though - unfortunately as it turns out - I have been free, and therefore able to invest relatively heavily in the ITV reality show I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here.   It's a marvellous gambling vehicle, because it is all about the in-play, but without Ray Winstone.  


The slightest nuance in behaviour in the camp will alter the odds.   The trick is to it spot a trend and get on before the bookies take notice.  


That's not easy, so I was rather pleased, having backed actor/presenter Craig Charles at 11-2 to win the contest, to find that within the first couple of hours of jungle-based shenanigans his odds had been cut to 7-2.   For a whole three days I was able to wrap myself in the blanket of smugness, before my man fell at the first.


Imagine my bitter disappointment on waking on Thursday morning, checking the latest prices (current morning routine; yawn, scratch, toilet, kettle on, check odds) and finding Craig not amongst the runners and riders.   Obviously, discovering the terribly tragic circumstances of his withdrawal, the wager became an irrelevance, and one felt nothing but sympathy for the bereaved contestant.


But I tell you, for a moment I was uncomfortably close to behaving like the guy, told he would have to cancel his holiday from work because his colleague needed the time off instead to look after his disabled child now his wife was unavailable, having been rushed to hospital with a serious illness, lamented: "Oh, why does everything always happen to me?"


I like I'm A Celebrity because I feel at least slightly clued in as to form.   With horses, however much I watch the Form Factor on At The Races and read my colleagues here, I know there will always be people who know more than me, and sadly, a lot of these people are bookmakers.


On I'm A Celeb, though, how's this for a form line?   Thirty-odd years ago I worked with Christine Buerk, wife of contestant Michael Buerk.   She was features editor of the Western Daily Press, the paper on which I started what I laughingly call my career, while I was district reporter on the mean streets of Taunton (it was so quiet that when there was a fire at a local poultry farm, the circulation manager put bills up all over town reading, "Ten Thousand Die in Taunton Blaze," omitting to mention the 10,000 deceased were day-old chicks), so our paths didn't cross much.


Her old man worked for the BBC in Bristol, and former colleagues who knew the couple better than me tell me they found him a thoroughly decent, charming chap but, I divined, possibly without the competitive edge to triumph.  


So my money has now gone on the rapper Tinchy Stryder, although I'm not entirely convinced.   I just think it might be time for a rapper to win.   Despite my previous successes in lame-brained TV shows, this might be an occasion to give my hunch a swerve because the smart money is on the ex-footballer Jimmy Bullard.   But when was mine ever the smart money?  


In which context you ought to be warned I have backed Nathan Cleverly at 9-2 to take tonight's big fight against Tony Bellew by knockout, technical knockout, or disqualification.   On what basis, you are entitled to ask?


Well, as part of Sky Sports' relentless plugging of this pay-per-view item, which falls just short of conferring on it the status of the Thriller in Manilla, we got a sequence of Cleverly playing pool against fellow Welshman Joe Calzaghe.   He looked way more relaxed than his opponent, who was pictured lying on a hotel bed alongside an iPad and a copy of Roy Keane's autobiography.   "No kids here, just myself and the thoughts of the Welshman," snarled Bellew, "I like to picture his face just before he hits the floor."


I don't know whether Bellew is familiar with hubris (the Mexican middleweight, ho ho) but that seemed dangerous talk to me.   I'm sticking with the more laid-back boxer, and besides Calzaghe says he will do it.   What's more I'm taking a break for three weeks, and if you are foolhardy enough to follow me, you'll have forgotten by the time I return.     

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