Lucky To Be Alive…

As I write this, dear reader, at 07:50 on 7th July 2009, it is within an hour of four years to the day since I had a lucky escape. On that day, hundreds were not so lucky, and 52 perished, when extremists decided to detonate explosives in various locations around London.

At that time, I was working as a Senior IT Project Manager for Royal Bank of Scotland, who were based at Aldgate East. I had taken the Hammersmith & City Line from Mile End to Aldgate East around 8.30, and arrived in the office ten minutes later. It was just another day in the office.

But then things started to happen. Some of my team were late in, and there'd been no calls or emails of explanation. It later transpired that they were stuck underground in tube trains, as the full horror of the situation became clear. At almost exactly the moment I arrived in the office that fateful day four years ago, one of a number of charges was triggered in the underground tunnel between Aldgate and Liverpool Street stations. The train I was on would have passed through without incident, as would the next train. The one after that was blown up.

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Not much later, news surfaced of a further, more brutal and life-wasting atrocity: the 30 bus in Kings Cross which was exploded, killing 26 people.

That bus, and the number 26 which was the subject of a failed terror attack some weeks later, are two of only three services which stop at the end of my road, and which I regularly use to travel, as I don't drive. It's funny how close these things feel sometimes.

I remember walking home from work that day - as tens of thousands of workers did - and thinking how lucky I was. It was probably there and then that I resolved to change my life to be more akin to what I wanted it to be. In a strange and perverse sort of way, it was there and then that I decided I'd have a crack at this online business mallarkey. After all, what's the worst that could happen?

To the memory of those who lost their lives...

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Let's move on from that solemn chapter, and back to the present. Four years later, and the world is a different place. Funnily enough, in London, I feel like we are more integrated than ever. I live in the fantastically diverse borough of Hackney. It has black, white, Asian, Turkish, Eastern European, and every other nation or race you could imagine. Sure, there are community cliques. But, ultimately, there is tolerance (if not always harmony) and acceptance (if not always understanding). It's an amazing place to live, and - again - I consider myself very lucky to reside in such a 'real' place with real people.

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If you've read this far, thank you. Now let's get to the sport...

With Wimbledon's tennis a fading memory, and Andy Murray's meritorious performance in losing to the other Andy confined to the filing cabinet of history, it is the turn of those magnificent men on their flying machines to entertain us for the next three weeks or so.

I refer, of course, to the Tour de France. Longer suffering readers will know of my love of this race. Often I've referred to it as the fairest race of them all (because they're probably all cheating!)

This year's race has more spice than the last couple. Alberto Contador comes to the race as the outstanding favourite, having won in 2007, and been unable to race in 2006 due to the withdrawal of his team, Astana, who have consistently been associated with doping (i.e. drug cheating). It is the sorry tale of the race in recent years that all winners are the subject of drugs scrutiny, and mistrust.

But, bizarrely, that remains a sideshow anyway to the greatest show on earth.

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Contador maybe favourite, but lurking in his own team no less, is a man who has won more Tours de France than any other rider. Step forward Mr Lance Armstrong.

There is much disunity in the team, with allegiances seemingly divided between the big guns Armstrong and Contador. Indeed, yesterday was a crazy day on the Tour. Given that it was just the third stage, and that today sees the epic team game, the TTT (or Team Time Trial), how utterly unsporting of Lance to attach himself to a breakaway with a couple of team-mates.

Furthermore, how incredible that the breakaway, led by our own Super Mark Cavendish's Columbia team, should steal fully 41 seconds from the peloton, including that man Contador.

Thus, Armstrong now sits in 3rd place, 40 seconds behind race leader Fabian Cancellara, the phenomenal time triallist from RogerFederer-land.

So, here's the 'skinny', as they say Stateside: today, if Astana (who have an absolutely formidable team line up) do what they're expected to do over the 39km course of today's 'contre le montre' (literally, against the clock), it is possible for them to take 40+ seconds out of Cancellara's SaxoBank team. Unlikely, but possible.

Were that to happen, and also assuming they beat Mark Cavendish's Columbia team more than seven seconds (more likely, even though that team is also strong), the rider who would finish the day in yellow would be....

Lance Armstrong!

It's perfectly possible that this could happen, and that Armstrong will hold the jersey going into some tricky mountain stages over the weekend. What this does for team allegiances is anybody's guess, but it's clear that the Texan is not here to be ANYBODY's second in command...

I am having a few days holiday from tomorrow, in the lovely Basque city of Bilbao. The Tour passes three hours north of there on Sunday, and I still hold a faint hope of finding a way to get up there to see it. It would be a life's dream to see a mountain top finish of the race, and that may have to wait another year at least.

Coverage of this spectacle of spectacles continues on Eurosport. (Even the commentators are brilliant, if something of an acquired taste perhaps).

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The Geegeez Racing Club is now full, with all 50 shares sold as of yesterday. Well done, and welcome, to those who are in. We should hopefully get news of a horse this week, all being well at the sales. I'll have my laptop with me while I'm away, so I'll be sure to send news on to shareholders.

Thanks a lot for all your interest - to those who are in, those who thought about it, and those many of you who were kind enough to wish us well. The horse will run in the Geegeez.co.uk colours, which I'll unveil as soon as they're approved by Weatherbys.

More to follow...

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Now then, a couple of horses to look at today, on what is a pretty abysmal day's racing in fairness...

And perhaps the most abysmal card of the day is at Southwell tonight. However, in the 7.40 race, a claimer, the topweight (and therefore the horse most highly handicapped by its own stable, as horses carry weight according to the price for which they can be 'claimed', aka bought) is a nag called Aboukir.

Hailing from the stable of Paul Cole, this one has had three disappointing runs on the turf this season on good or faster ground. Tellingly, perhaps, is the fact that his sole previous start was a win over course and distance here on the much softer surface.

It is well known that most horses express a preference for either turf or artificial underfoot conditions, and it would be no surprise to see Aboukir run a much better race than the trio of turf toss he's put in recently. Put in at 10/1 on the Racing Post tissue, expect him to be more like a 7/1 shot. In my book at least.

I'm going to double him up with Beauchamp Viceroy in the 2.45 at Wolverhampton. Trained by the brilliant Gerard Butler, the Viceroy is plunging in class today, and his rating of 84 is way too good for a seller. In fact, that's my only concern. Oftentimes, if it looks too good to be true, it is too good to be true!

However, he'll take a helluva lot of beating, and is another for the older horse favourite in sellers' system.

Good luck to you today with whatever you back. Enjoy the Tour, if that's your thing. And, most importantly, remember that these games of chance we play are but nothing to that great game of Russian Roulette we engage in every time we pull back the bedsheets and rise to greet another morning.

Matt

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18 replies
  1. David Wilkinson says:

    Matt,

    Well done with the racing club. To be fully subscribed in such a short time is no mean feat. I hope that you will keep up to date those of your loyal readers who (for one reason or another) were not able to join. (Me for instance) There is always the next syndicate. Elite Racing watch out!

    Regards

    David Wilkinson

  2. Bobby says:

    A lovely story makes one wonder is there someone up there looking out fo you, who knows? lif is a mystery; to be cynical life is just a big roulette wheel and you hope it will not stop at you, well not for a long time yet.

  3. Paul Whelan says:

    Morning Matt,

    Didn’t know you were a cycling buff? I think Lance in the maillot jaune this evening is more of a possibility that you might think. Over 39km I reckon Astana could easily take 40 secs out of SaxoBank. Contador 2nd in the prologue, Lance, and Leipheimer – Astana have a dream team. Not much work gets done first 3 weeks in July as I’m permanently glued to Eurosport HD. Its an acquired taste but watching a 40kph game of chess unfolding every afternoon, I love it.

    • Matt Bisogno says:

      My office is my lounge for July Paul! My new assistant, Marie, is being treated to a blow by blow account of team tactics and politics, and she’s loving it. (At least, she smiles diligently at me when I’m blustering!)

      Armstrong may well wear yellow tonight, but he’s not going to win it overall. I’m starting to think it was a ploy to give him his last hurrah, before Contador assumes control in the Pyrenees this weekend. That said, with Mont Ventoux the day before Paris this year, it’s really set for a monumental finish.

      Bring it on!

      Matt

  4. Jenny says:

    Hi Matt,

    I agree with David, I also couldn’t join the syndicate this time around, but would also be interested in how it’s going, having been a loyal reader for years.

    I cannot forget today’s date, 7th July, as my daughter was 18 years old in 2005, two months after that, she went to uni in London, and never came home! She now lives and works in London. Today is her 22nd birthday.

    We a few famous faces passing away recently, we seem to forget the ordinary men and women caught up in such terrible atrocities.

    In Memory to all those who lives where cut short and the families they left behind, we remember you today.

  5. Arthur Judge says:

    Hi Matt,

    How quickly time flies, it only seems the incidents you speak of were only a year or two ago, they say that in life whats meant for you won`t pass you by, guess it just was`nt your time.

    Keep up the great work, and we your loyal fans will be thinking of you today.

    Arthur

  6. Bruce Anderson says:

    Hi All.

    I am a former time trialist,45 years ago when most tt riders rode fixed (84inch gear or 87/90). Has any read Lance aand Landis. If you have you will surely come to the conclusion that both had “some” help. I am of the opinion that both should have been shown the door and it should have been locked.

    Any comments.

    Bruce.

  7. Richard Halliday says:

    Very interesting blog today and well done on the horse syndicate. Unfortunately I was not in a position to sign up but will be very interested in the future career of what ever horse is purchased for the cause.

    Further to your two horses for the day, I wasof the understanding that the older horse favourite in sellers was for turf races only.

  8. Thomas Bates says:

    Really interesting post this..Just been watching the news from Hyde Park about the new permanent memorial there for the 7/7 bomb victims…remember myself frantic phone calls to relatives in London on that day…
    Hope you have a good holiday and I look forward to news of the Geegeez horse..
    Best wishes
    Tom

  9. Charles says:

    Congrat’s Matt on the success of your syndicate, I hope you have lots of enjoyment and fun with it. Would love to have been a part of it but just could not raise the finance. Maybe if I was a better punter that wouldn’t have been the case!! lol. Anyway have a great holiday and get your backside up to that stage finish!! You won’t regret it.

    Charles

  10. John D. says:

    Hi Matt,

    Very glad you missed those terrible events, albeit quite narrowly. I had a few narrow escapes too, when I lived in London in the ’70s and ’80s and the IRA were active.

    Also very glad that the syndicate got off to a flyer. I’ve decided to stop a**ing about, and build up my betting using methods I know work, rather than the constant diversifying which is the plague of us bettors. So I hope to take you up on your next offer, as long as it doesn’t arrive too soon.

    Best wishes,

    John.

  11. Peter Colledge says:

    Glad you made it through on that day, Matt. I was the ambulance driver on our island for 13 years and thought with great fondness of the poor souls labouring in those temperatures trying to salvage something of those carriages. What poor, pathetic people those bombers were and how well London coped. The memorial looks lovely…a fitting tribute to those innocents.
    Moving on, I too love the Tour. My degree is partly in French and it is my (hopeless) ambition before I die to see a few stages. I was in Paris in 74 to see the latter stages, but…there we are. I cannot see past Armstrong this year…and our own Cavendish to win more than four stages. Those wins last year messed him up for the Olympics, I think. Anyway, all the best.

  12. jb says:

    7/7 not some roulette game usually…this cynical carnage of innocent normal active people was enirely cynical…maybe safer to sell the big issue

    a word on syndicates

    national hunt single animal will never work out as they brek down all day long take yr own advice buy beauchamp at wolves today

  13. Dan says:

    Nice post Matt – well done for remembering that fateful day and making us realise how lucky we all are. If we could only get rid of the corrupt and greedy politicians and their hangers on this world would be a far better place. No one would need to bomb anyone then. Anyway, enjoy the wonderful Basque city of Bilbao, and come back refreshed and ready to tip more winners! (Well, a few winners even).

  14. Andrew says:

    Matt,

    Thank goodness that you weren’t around when those islamic suicide bombers did their awful damage.

    On a much more positve note I think that the systems reviews you do are very thorough and any subscribers to the site are made aware of which systems may be worth subscribing to. It is good that you are brave enough to say which systems are not worth the money. It must be a thin line for you in being openly negative about a system since you may face a criminal charge for slander.

    Best wishes for the future.

  15. Matt Bisogno says:

    Hi Bruce

    I agree about cheats being shown the door permanently. The problem with Lance and Contador (though not Floyd) is that they’ve never been caught. With Armstrong, there was the implications of his association with the discredited Dr Michele Ferrari (who made all his riders go faster!), and with Contador there was naming as part of the infamous Operacion Puerto pan-sport drugs investigation.

    That actually covered sports as diverse as tennis and football, and implicated some of the biggest names in the game, prior to hurriedly being hush-hushed as a national scandal.

    It is a sad indictment of the impact of money in sport, that pretty much all top players in any sport where strength or speed is required are likely to have used, or been offered the opportunity to use, performance enhancing drugs.

    Matt

  16. Matt Bisogno says:

    Hi Richard

    You’re absolutely right that the seller system is turf only. My mistake.
    The horse won by ten lengths (!!!), though at 1-2 he wouldn’t have made too many people rich!

    Matt

    p.s. JB, Julia was at Wolves today. Alas, Beauchamp was bought in (i.e. retained by current connections) for 17,500 guineas. As someone whose first taste of success as a (co-)owner was when Love’s Design won a seller, and we had to go through the same rigmarole to buy him back, I can tell you that the £2,000 prize money received would not have covered the VAT and Buyers’ Premium. I hope they had a lump on the animal to win!

  17. ashsmi says:

    the fatefull day is one i will always rember because it was my mothers 60th birthday. well done on this place and i will take a fuller look round soon

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