Alter egos 17: BB tries for a GG double

Brendan Bracken- Big Brother

Brendan Bracken- Big Brother

Brendan Bracken [/caption]The First Viscount Brendan Bracken (1901-1958) was an Irish born journalist who turned politician and became Conservative MP for North Paddington.

He played a key role in helping Winston Churchill become Prime Minister of the Government of National Unity in the Second World War. When Neville Chamberlain resigned in May 1940, his successor would be Churchill or Lord Halifax. Churchill believed that the Labour Party would not support him, and he had therefore agreed with Chamberlain to nominate Lord Halifax.

When Bracken learned of this, he did his utmost to convince Churchill that the Labour Party would indeed support him as Chamberlain's successor, and that Lord Halifax's appointment would hand certain victory to Hitler. Bracken advised Churchill tactically to say nothing when the three met to arrange the succession. After a deafening silence during which Churchill was expected to nominate Halifax, the latter obligingly ruled himself out and Churchill was put forward as Britain's War-time Prime Minister, having avoided any appearance of disloyalty to Chamberlain.

Churchill repaid his friend’s help by making him Minister of Information, a post he held from 1941 to 1945. His departmental civil servants regular referred to him by his initials, BB, and one of them, Eric Blair, later used those same initials for Big Brother, the character in Nineteen Eighty Four, apparently basing the whole character on Bracken and the way he ran his department. He’s also said to be the model for Rex Mottram in Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited.

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Brendan Barcakn (l) clear at Galway

Brendan Barcakn (l) clear at Galway

There was never any whiff of anything untoward in the relationship between Bracken and Churchill, but there is a slight corruption of Bracken’s name in today’s Betfred Mile top weight Brendan Brackan. There’s also an extension of the BB theme, in that a horse called Big Bad Bob is his father.

Brendan Brackan goes for an unusual double today. On Tuesday he was a ridiculously easy winner of the Topaz Mile at Galway. Today he’s after success at Goodwood. It’s BB for GG. If horses knew handicappers, and behaved accordingly, the Brendan Brackan would coast home today. He’s been put up 13lbs for that win on Tuesday, but runs at Goodwood with just a 3lbs penalty. As trainer Ger Lyons said, “If the handicapper is even halfway right he should win.” That penalty is negated by Colin Keane’s 5lbs claim.

He’s clearly a horse who takes his racing well, and in six runs last season, and five so far this, he’s only once finished outside the top six. That was in his first race this season, in a big field handicap.

The run at Galway put his mark up to 117, level with Mars and Galileo Rock, though they are both a year younger than Brendan Brackan. In his age group, he’s third in the rankings, with Declaration Of War (120) and Camelot (118) ahead of him.

Clearly, Brendan Brackan is a progressive horse, but perhaps the thing to remember is that few horses attempt the Galway/Goodwood double because it is so difficult. Even when there are two suitable races, little time between them and the journey across the Irish Sea can play havoc with any amount of apparent weight in hand.

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