Tag Archives: horse racing

Horses For Courses

It looks like we will still have another two more weeks at least under the current restrictions then. That will not massively affect me as I am still not going out much or doing too many things at the moment. That is just my own personal choice as I wanted to make sure that everyone close to me had received both of their jabs before I started mixing with too many people again. Things are now getting to the stage where that is almost the case.

I am still taking regular Covid tests so I know that I have not got it when I go to meet people. As it has been from the start it is just a case of doing what is right and what you feel comfortable doing to maintain some sort of work and life balance. Have I enjoyed the last eighteen months? Of course not like everyone else I have missed out on so many events and occasions. That I normally enjoy on an annual basis. Do I regret any of the decisions I made? No, I am happy I kept myself and my family as safe as possible throughout this situation.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

When things do fully reopen this virus is not suddenly going to have disappeared. There will be random outbreaks, we may still have to self-isolate on occasions. It may still cause us problems and in some cases heartbreak. But it is seemingly more under control than it was over a year ago. People who have now been vaccinated are I believe around 75% less likely to die from Covid if they catch it and also less likely to get the virus or transmit it. Over time that will make a huge difference as it will hopefully no longer be able to mutate at the rate that it was due to the level of transmissions. I am not a Scientist by the way, no way near clever enough for that! So I may have got that a bit wrong, but I think that is the general idea.

It is great that the vaccination is available to all adults now. As far as I can see the reason for the delay in reopening the United Kingdom was to get more people vaccinated. I had my second injection more than six weeks ago. Therefore I am wondering if I can get a booster in September. Just to be on the safe side. The scientists have done an amazing job in a relatively short space of time. However there are obviously lots of other very serious medical conditions that we have to focus on once again. Of course the country needs to be restriction free as soon as it is fully viable to do so.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I do appreciate I have talked quite a lot about the current situation but I could not just ignore it. As it has massively impacted what I have been up to during the last eighteen months. I am sure you noticed that there have been a lot less holiday specials from me for example. Last weekend I did actually go out to a restaurant to eat for the first time since February 2020. My now long suffering girlfriend was keen to go out for food and as she has been cooking pretty much every Saturday night for the last twelve months. It did only seem fair. Plus I found somewhere that was on the Coeliac UK accredited list, so I thought it would be safe for me to go there.

Neil Quigley

We booked a table at her local Prezzo. Originally the plan was to eat outside but it was raining so I had to be brave and sit at a table inside the place. It was all very well managed everyone was wearing their masks when moving about and all the tables were nicely spaced out. I instantly felt at ease and relaxed. As somebody who had not been out much I was not ready for people to be too close to me just yet under a roof. They offer a full Gluten Free menu in that pretty much everything on the menu can be served as the Gluten Free version. Therefore as this was my first restaurant visit since being diagnosed as Coeliac I had lots of options to choose from.

I think it was a combination of eating out for the first time in ages, the fact I had so much choice or possibly the glass of Malbec that I was enjoying. But I ordered a full three course meal. For starters I had Gluten Free Garlic Bread with Red Onions and Cheese. That was followed by Pasta Arrabiata Gluten Free style. Then as one of my many mottos is that a meal must be finished off with something sweet. I had a Gluten Free Black Currant and Prosecco Cheese Cake. The whole meal was really nice. The Staff were great even though the waitress managed to deliver us the main with no cutlery. She quickly resolved this issue when I got her attention.

I very much enjoyed it and felt safe and happy in the surroundings. It was only the third time we had actually eaten out together, so luckily I managed to remember all the correct table etiquette. When we got there the place was packed then about half way through our meal it was nearly empty. I used to be able to clear a pub just by being in one and talking. It would seem that “skill” is also transferrable to Italian restaurants. We were only out for a couple of hours but it was nice to have a change of scenery and drink someone else’s wine. I am sure I will not leave it that long to eat out again, all being well.

Neil Quigley

I have always drunk move than your average amount of tea. When I was still at school it was more controlled than it is now as we did not have tea breaks, so I could not have any during the day. Once I got my first full time job at seventeen my tea intake went through the roof. As a general rule I cannot leave the house in the morning unless I have had at least two cups of the stuff. I do consider myself a great tea maker owing mainly to the amount of cups that I have made in my life. I think I average about ten cups a day at the minute. For me it is a multi-purpose substance. It wakes me up in the morning plus I can happily drink it to relax before I go to bed.

A nice cup of tea

I spoke to a dietician last week. It was to do with my Coeliac Disease and offered by the NHS to make sure my Gluten Free diet is healthy and balanced. I have been trying to eat well for about ten years now and my general food intake does include a lot of fruit and vegetables. I have actually found my new restrictions to be even heathier. As I now tend to have less processed meat, no bread and less chocolate. One of the issues with Coeliac Disease is that it affects the body’s immune system and ability to absorb nutrients. I was diagnosed in February and being on a Gluten Free diet should correct these issues but it can take up to a year to start working after the diet change.

Generally as I suspected I was doing ok with what I was consuming. She did make a couple of good suggestions for other vegetables that could help with my condition. I do have quite a strict fitness regime. I run nine miles three times a week, do five miles on the exercise bike three times a week as well as doing weight lifting, Yoga and Pilates. Therefore if I do say so myself I am in reasonably good shape at the moment. However since I have been Gluten Free I have actually lost a bit of weight, so the dietician suggested that maybe I should try to consume a few more calories a week. That means I can have more chocolate and Gluten Free cake as far as I am concerned.

It is very important I eat lots of foods that have Iron and Calcium in them. They are nutrients Coeliac sufferers are often low in. That suits me perfectly as Steak and Cheese are both good sources of them. The other thing she did mention is that sometimes tea can affect the ability of the body to absorb these things. She did suggest that I might like to try to cut down on my tea intake. I do appreciate that it is good sound health advice and I will admit I know I should have less of it. But I have already lost Gluten therefore all standard bread and beer in the last six months so I am not ready to give up on my tea just yet I am afraid.

Neil Quigley

I have been really enjoying this current series of The Last Leg on Channel 4. They always have some great guests on and I like the whole atmosphere of it, it is fun yet at the same time does make a few decent points. I have seen Josh Widdicombe live a few times and I think he is really funny. I have also seen Adam Hills do his stand up and he is just such a likeable bloke who has a great rapport with the audience. Plus I once saw Alex Brooker drinking champagne with a load of mates in a bar I was in around Bond Street in London. I did not go and say hello to him but I was trying my best not to stare if I am honest.

I have been to see the show live. The three of them clearly all get on very well with each other. And compliment each other perfectly as they all seem to come at things from different angles giving them their own unique jokes. It just all seems to work. I like the way the programme kind of happened by accident. They were all thrown together to cover the Paralympics in 2012 and then from that it became this weekly topical comedy show. Let us not forget they are the ones who organised a big Tuba to follow Donald Trump around when he visited Scotland. That in itself is genius. It is worth a watch if you have never seen it.

Josh Widdicombe
Josh Widdicombe

Two of the horses that I have a small amount of shares in via Owners Group have run recently. Force Ten who I have visited at Champion Trainer Paul Nicholls stables in Somerset ran in a Hurdles race down at Newton Abbot. I went and saw his race course debut at Newbury Race Course in 2018. He is six years old and although he was looking good in training he has been finding it difficult to settle in his races. This has meant that on occasion he has been badly misbehaving in the Parade Ring or used all his energy up by being too pent up before the race has even started.

Neil Quigley and Paul Nicholls
Neil Quigley and Paul Nicholls

In his previous two runs he had set off at a rate of knots got himself to the front and then just run out of steam in the final stages and finished near the back. We have tried using a hood, blinkers and cheek pieces to calm him down. But none of these measures have made any difference. The plan for Newton Abbot was to get him to lead from the front and try to win that way. However once again he did not settle. He was in midfield for most of the way round then got up into fourth place with a few furlongs to go then seemingly almost stopped.

Due to the fact that it does not appear that he will take to racing. The decision has been made to retire him from the sport. This means he will be retrained to be a riding school or family horse. It is a shame as I did have high hopes for him but it was just not meant to be sadly. As ever the important thing is the animal’s welfare. And if he was not happy he needs to find something that he enjoys in life. He is now at the Owners Group’s facility called Equiprep turned out with other horses in a field waiting to be rehomed. You win some, you lose some I guess.

Force Ten

Another one of my horse’s called Proclaimer had his second race after a long lay-off recently to. He was off the track for six months as they feared he might have a problem with his back. Fortunately that was not the case and he was able to return to training. He is trained by Julie Camacho. She has been pleased with his work at home but sadly he has disappointed us a bit in his two runs since his enforced break. In his most recent effort he was in contention until the final three furlongs then rapidly fell away, which is not like him. I will just have to be patient and wait to see what we do with him next. I get a weekly update on all my horses and regular videos, so I am very much kept in the loop, which is great.

Proclaimer

The delayed European Championships have reached the Quarter Finals stage. There have already been a few shock results in the knock out rounds and some good teams have already gone. It was a shame that Wales got knocked out but then owing to the Christian Eriksen incident it was nice to see Denmark progress. He was one of my favourite players when he was at Spurs. When we were at our best under Pochettino everything went through him. I wish him a speedy recovery. I think the final winner of this competition is still quite hard to call but we will all know in a week’s time and then all pretend it was obvious from the start.

England are still in the competition after beating Germany two – nil at Wembley last Tuesday. That is the first time we have beaten them in a knock out tournament match for fifty five years, when we beat them in the World Cup Final in 1966 also at Wembley, so we were due a victory over them. As a Spurs fan it was great to see Captain Harry Kane get his goal. We play Ukraine in Rome tonight and if we can get through that both the Semi-Final and Final will be played at Wembley, which surely should give us an extra boost. I will be glued to the game later. Come on England!

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

A quick reminder that you can listen to me every Saturday afternoon between 2pm – 4pm on Radio Ninesprings https://www.radioninesprings.co.uk/

Neil Quigley

Have fun and we will catch up again soon. Stay safe! Cheers Neil.

Art of Management

I still have not taken advantage yet of any of the relaxations of the rules. Due to the unique way that it grows I have been cutting my own hair for over a year now. I have no fashion sense so I have not rushed out to the shops to buy any clothes that do not suit me. Plus I still have a pretty impressive supply of wine at home. Add to that the fact that I have not quite got the desire to sit outside fully wrapped up while having a pint of cider. However if you have quite reasonably been out and about more sampling things I hope you have enjoyed it and felt safe.

It is nice to see a lot of my friends now getting their first jabs as well as my parents and older relatives receiving their second injections. I should get my next one in another four weeks, which I am obviously looking forward to. The more protected I am the better as far as I am concerned. As a long time sufferer of Asthma and also someone who needed several pints of blood after a nasty haemorrhage when I was nine I have been happy to rely on medical science to keep me alive. I can confirm that my opinion on its worth has not changed.

I will slowly ease myself back out into the world, seeing friends and going to pubs when I feel the time is right. Everybody can decide to do things again when they want to and at their own speed. As long as we continue to look after ourselves and each other the new roaring twenties are just around the corner. That is going to be some decade of partying. I am branching out a little bit, my girlfriend and I are off to stay in a Shepherd’s Hut in the middle of nowhere next weekend for a slight change of scenery, which we are both looking forward to.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

It was the Grand National a fortnight ago today. I am usually up in Liverpool for the event and I hope to be back there for it next year. It was a bit weird watching on the television with no fans at Aintree. It always amuses me when they travel over the Melling Road as I have driven up and down that road lots of times, although not on a race day of course. The big race itself did not disappoint. It had as much drama and excitement as always. It is arguably the most challenging course for jumps horses and one of the biggest tests of stamina that the animals involved will probably ever face.

It was won this year by a horse called Minella Times, which is trained in Ireland by Henry De Bromhead. It was ridden to victory by the ace Rachel Blackmore, who in doing so became the first ever female jockey to win the race. She has already established herself as one of the top riders in Ireland and the United Kingdom. Both of them had already had a brilliant Cheltenham Festival, which is the other really big meeting in the jumps racing calendar. I happily had backed her to win so that earned me a few pounds. I also had the fifth placed horse on an each way bet, so it was a decent afternoon for me.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

The evening then got even better. One of my horses that I have a few small shares in Stage Star was running in the final race of the day at Aintree. Therefore after I had celebrated my Grand National win I settled down to watch this race. Originally Harry Cobden was due to ride him but he got injured after falling in an earlier race and had to go to hospital. Then Bryony Frost was lined up to do it but sadly she also had a fall in the National and ended up in hospital to. In the end Harry Skelton ended up taking the ride. It was a big step up for Stage Star but he had run well in his last race at Ascot just being beaten by his stable mate Knappers Hill.

He started well and was travelling nicely in the middle of the field. It was a big race with twenty runners. With about three furlongs to go his jockey gave him a shake up and he went to the front. At this point I was screaming and shouting getting very excited. As it looked for a few moments like he could win it but he was overtaken once again by Knappers Hill in the final furlong and then passed by a second horse as he ran on to finish third. It was a great run from a horse that we hope has a lot of potential.

He went off at a price of 22/1 and as I had an each way bet on him he did win me a little bit of cash. It was a National Hunt Flat race but the plan is to run him over hurdles in the autumn, which we think will suit him better. That will be after he has had a well deserved break this summer. I am looking forward to a time when I can once again see my horses run in person at the track. The adrenalin rush you get watching them challenge for the lead in a race is brilliant. Not to mention the feeling when they win!

Neil Quigley and Stage Star
Neil Quigley and Stage Star

It is pretty easy to manage my Gluten Free diet at home. It simply means that I have to think about my meal choices a little bit more in advance. Or if I want something particular I have to hunt down the Gluten Free version. I have just found a food company who produce and do home delivery of their own products. Mainly I have used this to expand my snack options like biscuits and bars. Although I have found a new cereal to try, it is the closest to my old favourite one that I have found.

Thanks to my girlfriend I had my first experience of Gluten Free pasta last Saturday in a Lasagne she made. It tasted amazing and I would challenge anyone in a taste test to be able to spot the Gluten was missing, you honestly could not tell. The week before it was a Gluten Free Pizza to try, which again was lovely. She is basically working through the things that when I was first diagnosed with Coeliac Disease I thought I would no longer be able to eat.

Gluten Free Lasagne

After we had finished our food we had another online comedy night to watch. It was hosted by Laura Lex, who I once saw do the warm up for Ben Elton’s Upstart Crow. And perform as one of the headline comics at the Tringe Festival Roving Comedy Night. She was great and did a top job setting the tone for the show. The first act on was Tez Ilyas who was excellent, really enjoyed his set. Then it was Troy Hawke, who is a character act, which I honestly think some of the audience did not realise. To be fair it did take me a bit of time to get on board with it, but he did make me laugh.

The headline act was somebody who I really like. I have seen him live twice at Glastonbury and then doing some new material at the Old Rope Comedy Night in London. It was the hilarious Ed Byrne. He has such an entertaining way of telling his stories, while doing very unique and individual to him jokes. He knows the craft of comedy inside out and is so comfortable on stage. He even added an extra couple of jokes to his performance as he was not happy about the laugh that his last planned joke received. He told the audience exactly what he was doing and blamed us for it, which I thought was great. Top fella!

Ed Byrne
Ed Byrne

I recently watched Shaun of The Dead for the first time. I appreciate as ever with regards to films I am a bit behind the times with this one as it was released in 2004. It has a great cast and is good fun. It was a bit weird watching a Zombie Apocalypse after the year we have all had. Many aspects of it in a way strangely seemed quite familiar. There are some great quotable lines in it. Plus a lot of good cameo appearances. I will hold my hand up as someone who does not like horror or any blood. As a result there were a few bits that I found too gory and had to look away from the screen for. I am so bad I cannot even watch Casualty. I hate anything injured body or flesh related.

The film starred Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. It was directed by Edgar Wright. Three years after this one the three of them teamed up again for a movie called Hot Fuzz. A lot of it was shot on location in Wells in Somerset. I was working for Ivel fm in Yeovil at the time. After the big London premiere they then decided to have a smaller one in the cinema in Wells. One of the journalists who worked at the station with me got wind of this and managed to get hold of the person who was organising it. He tried to get us tickets to see the film but the cinema there is pretty small, so all they could offer us were two tickets for the after show party in a bar next door.

We went along of course, even though it was a midweek event. I think he drove us there so I had a few beers. The place was packed Nick Frost and Edgar Wright were both there but Simon Pegg was unable to make it. They both gave a short speech. Then the DJ took over. As it happened he was somebody I knew anyway, so I got all the gossip about the film from him. It was a strange night to be honest so we did not stay too late. I have still not seen the whole film. I did once almost get invited to the London Premiere of a Guy Ritchie film but that is a story for another time.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Tim Lovejoy formerly of Soccer Am and currently of Sunday Brunch on Channel 4 is doing quite a few podcasts at the moment. One of these is a football one called A-Zidane of Football with a Derby fan mate of his called Blake. I make a brief appearance on the S episode edition talking to them about my team Tottenham. This was prior to the two big pieces of news to come out of the club in the last week. It was fun to do and good to talk to the both of them. If you missed it and fancy having a listen here is a link to the one that I was on. https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/ep-235-a-zidane-of-football-letter-s/id1196671475?i=1000517361706

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Well where do I start with the last two weeks in the life and times of my team Tottenham Hotspur? As I feared we were well beaten by a not even firing on all cylinders themselves Manchester United team. Then we drew away to a similarly lacklustre Everton Side. The game was so bad that both sides deserved to lose. At the end of the match to add injury to insult Harry Kane limped off with what looked like an ankle injury. I did apply to be one of the two thousand fans at Wembley to watch us play Manchester City in the League Cup Final tomorrow but I was not successful in the ballot.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Although with hindsight, what has happened during the last seven days makes that pale into insignificance. First there was that “big” announcement about the so called big six clubs in England wanting to be part of a new European Super League in their eyes replacing their involvement in the Champions League and Europa League. I am ashamed to say Spurs were one of these clubs. This proposed league was fixed with always with the same teams and no promotion or relegation. Therefore completely pointless, it was totally driven by greed and they massively misread why fans support their clubs. It is now not happening thankfully after all the English clubs pulled out after pressure from their fans.

I have not renewed my season ticket yet. This latest money driven elitist stupid failed plan means that I will have some serious thinking to do to decide if I will renew it or not? I was already on the edge with VAR ruining things but this could well be the last straw. I love going to the match and cheering on the team, I want to see them win things. Not play in a pointless midweek European non-competition. That will not be the case now, but even so the way it came about has left a bitter taste in the mouth. Realistically I will probably renew it as I enjoy it and it did take me over forty years to be able to get one.

The day after that story broke Tottenham then decide to sack the manager Jose Mourinho. I was not a fan of his before he joined us and I would say to anyone who would listen before he came that I did not like or enjoy his style of football. And that I did not want him as our boss. I was a huge fan of Mauricio Pochettino and was upset when he was fired. I had grown to accept Mourinho as a man but the way he had the team playing and that fact we were not winning were hard to accept.

Tottehham Hotspur
Tottehham Hotspur

The timing of the dismissal was crazy. It should either have been done a month ago when we were still in touch with the top four or at the end of the season. Doing it the week before a Cup Final in a competition he has a good record in seems mad. It would have been a huge ask against City but he has pulled off some big shocks over the years, so to relieve him of his duties now is very hard to justify. There does not appear to be any one lined up so Ryan Mason and Chris Powell are stepping up from the Under 23’s to take control until the end of the season.

They are both great guys and I am sure they will do a good job but it is not the ideal preparation for a club looking to win their first silver ware since 2008. I will be watching the action from Wembley on my television tomorrow and cheering the team on as always. No one is really expecting us to win but stranger things have happened. Jose did not seem to have a clue what his best side was seventeen months into the job. I hope the two new coaches can make firm decisions a lot quicker and find I hope a more attacking formula. To Dare is to Do! Come on your Spurs!

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Amazingly my weekly lockdowns’ Pop Quiz is one year old this Tuesday. I started doing it around a month into the first national lockdown purely as something for people on a Tuesday night to do. Everything was shut and you were not allowed to socialise or visit anybody. It gave me something to work towards and prepare each week. I had a lot of fun putting it together, designing the rounds and writing all the questions. Lots of people were joining in and enjoying the music based fun, which was great.

The first series lasted until the end of lockdown one. I stopped doing it when we were allowed back out. I honestly thought that was it and I had put it to bed. Then in November the second national lockdown happened, so I brought it back on the same night and in the same time slot as before. It was great to see all the old participants return for the latest version. This one only lasted about five weeks but did also lead to me doing a Christmas Special during the festive period.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I thought that it might be a fitting way to end it but then in January this year lockdown three occurred. Therefore what else could I do but bring it back for a third series. During the last twelve months I think I have written well over one thousand questions. I dressed up as Elvis Presley for the end of series one as I did think that one could be the last ever quiz. In all of the other shows I have worn the same grey jacket. In every one Pinky Punky from Mallet’s Mallet has sat just behind me.

For the anniversary programme I am going to do an hour long special of “Quigger’s Plays Pop” starting at the earlier time of 8pm. As well as having more questions than usual I will bring back a few of the old rounds and may even test people’s memories with some of the same questions I used during the heady days of the first series. It should be a good laugh. As ever as well as the quiz itself I will try and throw in some facts or stories of some of my encounters with people from the world of music. Join me this Tuesday at 8pm for the birthday pop quiz. If you missed it here is the link to last week’s show. https://www.facebook.com/796795590/videos/10164939561950591/

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley


You can listen to me on Saturday afternoon’s between 2pm – 4pm on Radio Ninesprings https://www.radioninesprings.co.uk/

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Have fun and we will catch up again soon. Stay safe! Cheers Neil.

Park Life

It has now been over twelve months since the United Kingdom had its first National Lockdown. We are now in Lockdown three and like The Police Academy films ideally we would have all liked them to have ended after the initial one. They both basically followed the same story and sadly did become a little less entertaining. However we are hopefully moving in the right direction and starting to get on top of the situation regarding this very nasty virus at last.

The real test of course will come when everything slowly starts to open back up again. Then we will get the chance to try to remember how to order drinks in a pub, sing at football matches and purchase a ticket for the theatre. We are not quite there yet and it will not just be enough to get things under control here. For things to truly begin to get back to somewhere near to normal the whole world needs to be able to contain this thing together. Sadly it does seem that some Countries are faring better than others at that.

Obviously nobody is totally enjoying the current situation. Life I think is about how you look at it. Try to concentrate on the things that we can do over the next few months rather than the things we cannot. Then make the most of everything you can still do within the rules. People will also begin to allow themselves to do things at their own speed when they feel comfortable enough. Some will jump back to it straight away some may wait a bit and see what happens. Each to their own! We all have to make the right decisions for ourselves.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I have now been Gluten Free for over a month after being diagnosed with Coeliac Disease. Happily I am still finding it easy to adapt my regular diet accordingly and do not really feel that I am missing out on too much. I still get way too excited when I check a bar code on my phone application and the smiley face appears telling me that it is safe for me to have it. My girlfriend is doing a sterling job giving me Gluten Free desserts as my general motto when it comes to food is that you should always end a meal with something sweet. I feared that I might have to stop with that philosophy but it is still possible even with the new restrictions I have.

I can no longer have standard Lager, Beer or Stout so I am on a little bit of a mission to find the best Gluten Free version of these options. I have already found an early leader in the Lager category. It is called Daura and made in Spain by the people that make Estrella. It is so far the closest to the real lager taste that I have found. It is completely fine for me to drink, in moderation of course. It is actually approved by Coeliac UK and has their emblem. That sign is basically a big tick for me on anything I see it on. I have studied food labelling in the last month more than at any time during my entire life.

Gluten Free Lager

For the first time since I was eighteen there was no Guinness for me on St Patrick’s Day this year, as I am no longer allowed to drink it. For many years I went to Waxy O’Connor’s in London, had a few pints of the black stuff, enjoyed the live Irish music and basically had a great time. I did not get to go last year which was a real shame. That place is my favourite pub in the Capital and I am looking forward to going there when we are allowed to once again. I will have to find a new drink to enjoy there of course.

St Patrick's Day
St Patrick’s Day

I have always felt I qualified to celebrate because not only do I have a name with Irish origin “Quigley” but my Granddad was actually born there. The family had a small holding in County Mayo. I have not had the chance to go there yet, my Uncle has and sadly the actual farm is no longer there. I would like to visit one day. I imagine it would be a bit like Ant & Dec’s DNA Journey and it would turn out that I was in some way related to everybody in the local pub. This year I raised a cup of tea to St Patrick, while wearing my green rugby shirt that I won in a competition at Waxy’s about seven years ago.

Neil Quigley

I hope you somehow managed to give your Mum a nice little treat on Mother’s Day this year. I appreciate this may not have been easy and there is a chance you have not seen her for a year or possibly longer. I ordered mine a card from a well-known greetings card website. Their name rhymes with “Spoon Wig”. It has been a tough year for everyone so I thought I would splash out a bit as she deserves it. As I was placing the order I saw an option that said giant card. I thought I would get her that. I did not bother looking at the dimensions as I honestly presumed giant meant A4 size. Why would you need one bigger than that?

Anyway I also sorted out some chocolates and arranged to get them delivered to her on the day. That afternoon she sent me a picture of her holding the card and it was massive! It was almost as big as her. It looked like one of those oversized cheques that they mock up to give big prize winners. My Mum liked it but my sister was annoyed as she got a normal sized card, so it looked like I had tried to outdo her in the appreciation stakes. That was not my intention. In fact it was simply due to me not really paying attention. I just hope she does not think all of her future cards will be this size or she is going to be very disappointed.

Giant Card!

I am generally very clumsy. In fact it is a bit worrying how often I seem to catch my arm on door frames or hit my head on cabinet doors. I often compare myself to a cross between Frank Spencer from “Some Mothers Do ‘Ave’ M and Mr Bean. I sometimes think that I could have been a slapstick comedy superstar like Norman Wisdom or Charlie Chaplin. I reckon I could easily have fell through that bar like Del Boy in Only Fools and Horses. I am not sure how I seem to manage these things.

The other week I was just walking down the stairs to get a glass of water albeit with nothing on my feet. When I tripped and somehow fell forward on to just one of my toes, which buckled under me and for a brief moment had all my weight on it. At this point it made a bit of a strange noise as I regained my footing. I thought I had broken my toe initially but now I think I might just have sprained it. Either way it has gone a very impressive colour and I have had to rest it. There is nothing more annoying than injury yourself doing something simply unexpected and ridiculous.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

It was the Cheltenham Festival recently. I am a big horse racing fan so this is always one of the highlights of my year. I normally try to go on the Wednesday, obviously I could not do that this year and sadly I did not manage to get there last year. Although as that was when the Pandemic was starting to take hold of the country I was totally fine with that situation with hindsight. I watched all of the races from the comfort of my home this time. The television coverage is very good to be fair. They do it really well and make it as inclusive as possible.

Cheltenham Festival
Cheltenham Festival

The racing is always top quality at this event. It takes place at the home of National Hunt Racing. The course is set in the countryside of the Cotswolds and looks stunning. As part of the meeting there is a competition between the Irish Trainers and the rest of the United Kingdom. Ireland ran away with it this year. They had the winners of pretty much all the big races. Ireland’s Rachel Blackmore became the first female leading Jockey at the event, riding the most winners over the four days.

When it comes to any gambling the golden rule is never bet more than you can afford to lose. For example when I actually go to the races I budget in any stake money as part of the cost of the whole day and expect to spend it. If I have any winners and return with some money that is just a bonus. I had quite a good Cheltenham. I saw and had a bet on every race and ended up fifty pounds up for the week, which I was obviously very happy with. Next up in a couple of weeks it is the Grand National Festival at Aintree. I would normally be there but of course cannot do that this year. However one of my horses might be running there, which is very exciting.

Neil Quigley and Stage Star
Neil Quigley and Stage Star

I watched the film Wild Rose last weekend. Unusually this one was kind of my suggestion for a change, much to the surprise of my other half. It is about a young Scottish woman who is desperate to make it as a Country singer. That is what peaked my interest as I am a fan of that genre of music. Plus I had heard some good things about it. The cast list is impressive it features Julie Walters, Sophie Okonedo and Jessie Buckley who plays the title role. It was quite a good watch. I was hoping there would be more music in it than there was. It has a pretty gritty and real storyline.

The king of the UK Country scene Bob Harris makes a brief cameo appearance in it as does his real Radio 2 producer. The best bit for me was when Rose-Lynn goes to Nashville. I have been there and I loved it there, so it was great to see it on screen. It brought back lots of memories of my trip there. I would happily go there again. Such a cool place with live music pretty much everywhere all of the time. I do not want to spoil the ending but they kept the movie true and pretty realistic, I would say.

Nashville Broadway
Nashville Broadway

I started my weekly Pop Quiz during the first Lockdown thinking that I would do it for a few months and that would be it. It has had a few breaks but we are now on series three. Within the next month it will celebrate its first anniversary. I am planning on doing a one hour long special birthday programme. It began as a bit of a distraction and some music related fun on a Tuesday night. I never intended to still be doing it now but here we are. I am still doing it and enjoying it.

You can join in with the latest episode this Tuesday on my Facebook page at 8.30pm. As ever there will be thirty questions spread over six fun and different rounds. There is always an audio round to test your skills for recognising songs from short clips of them. I always wear the same “showbiz” jacket when I present it. I might give that away on the very last show. I really enjoy doing it but when I have to stop that means everything is back open and we are out socialising again. Here is last week’s Quigger’s Plays Pop to enjoy in case you missed it. https://www.facebook.com/796795590/videos/10164825151995591/

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

It has not been the best few weeks for Tottenham Hotspur. We were beaten by Arsenal in the North London Derby, which means both of us won our home games against each other this season. We then got knocked out of the Europa League by Dinamo Zagreb despite being two goals up from the first leg. We lost three nil after extra time. It was such a disappointing lacklustre performance it almost made me angry.

We did thankfully manage to beat Aston Villa away before this latest international break. That leaves us still sniffing around the top four places in the Premier League. We need one big final push between now and the end of the season.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

You can still listen to me on Saturday afternoon’s between 2pm – 4pm on Radio Ninesprings https://www.radioninesprings.co.uk/

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Have fun and we will catch up again soon. Stay safe! Cheers Neil.

I Get Locked Down But I Get Up Again

Here we are then back in Lock Down for the third time in England. When you consider that it is only about two months until the first anniversary of the initial one it does highlight how long this terrible virus has been a huge issue. The nature of the disease it being a Flu variant meant we all knew it may be a bigger problem sadly during the winter months. Possibly early estimations of when the threat might be averted were a little to on the optimistic side from some areas. But here we are again and it has to be the right and sensible thing to do.

We are all missing seeing family and friends. It is hugely frustrating to be missing out on so many things and events we would normally all do during the year. However what we are being asked to do at the minute annoying though it is, is a small sacrifice really compared to what our Grand Parents and Great Grand Parents went through for us. See it possibly as our chance to return the favour by looking after them this time. I would take staying in the house over being stuck in a ditch somewhere while being shot at any day of the week.

The new variant has made the situation worse but we now have several vaccines that are being rolled out to combat this thing to enable us to be able to ultimately get our lives back. The work of those scientists to produce these injections so quickly is amazing. It shows just how far medical research has come to be able to get to this stage in such a relatively short space of time. We need of course to protect the vulnerable first. And generally I think they are doing it in a fair and sensible way. That said as soon as it is my turn to be offered it I will be straight down to the Doctors with my arm out ready.

The main issue driving the government’s decisions has not changed from the start as far as I can see. Making sure the NHS can cope with all medical emergencies has to be a priority for all of our sakes. The Staff of that organisation have done a super human job over the last year. I cannot even imagine how tough it has been for them, but I do appreciate their “Herculean” effort. I would obviously like to thank them all so much for what they have done and continue to do. We will get through this thing by working together and looking after each other. It will be under control and we will be able to return to the things we love doing at some point.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

After seeing Joe Wicks had returned with his PE lessons, I had no choice but to bring back my weekly Pop Quiz. I enjoy doing it and I know people have fun playing along with me. I do not take myself or it too seriously. It is simply meant to be a bit of fun every Tuesday night at 8.30pm. If you have not done it before why not give it a go? It lasts around thirty minutes and it is just me asking some music based questions and having a laugh.

It is called “Quigger’s Plays Pop”. If that title does sound familiar I believe there was once a music quiz on television hosted by the ace Keith Chegwin called “Chegger’s Plays Pop”. Any similarities are of course purely coincidental and if you think the theme tunes to both sound almost identical but for a few subtle tweaks then you are spot on. But let us look at it as a nod and a tribute to that programme just in case there are any lawyer type people reading this. Here is a video of the latest episode, so you can watch that and then decide if you to want to get involved next week. https://www.facebook.com/796795590/videos/10164496880380591/

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I am trying to use the current situation to get as fit as I possibly can. Between me and you I am trying to get the six pack back that I had when I was eighteen but that may be out of reach. I am pretty sure all I had to do back then to achieve that was just ten sit ups a week. It appears a little more effort is required in your forties. I am running for nine miles three times a week. That is followed by forty-minutes on the exercise bike. On the other three days I do weights and home Pilates sessions. Then on all of the days I do Yoga and sit ups. I treat myself to a day off on Sundays.

Towards the end of last year I got one of those resistance bands not really knowing what they were about, if I am honest. Anyway from this month I have added a twenty minute evening online work out with the band to my routine. I have not quite mastered the use of it yet, plus I did not realise they come in different sizes so mine needs to be stretched quite a lot to do the moves. I figured another bit of exercise a day cannot do any harm but I am not sure if I like working out with it or not yet. If nothing else I will burn a few more calories.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

As my girlfriend’s quest to try to find “Neil Friendly” films, continues, alongside her aim of exploring the entire back catalogue of Quentin Tarantino. We watched Django Unchained. It did manage to keep my attention, which is a positive as it is a long movie. I enjoyed it. And it was clearly his take on a slave movie come western, I think. Like a lot of his stuff it had a pretty high body count. There was plenty of blood everywhere. He seemed to kill almost everyone off including himself during his own brief cameo appearance.

Earlier in the day she had given me a beautiful green jumper as a present. As we were watching the film we were having a few wines. As I said it was a very gory film with lots of people getting shot. After it had finished and I am still not sure how I managed to achieve this I somehow threw my glass of red wine in the air! It went everywhere over the sofa, over her and also over my brand new top. It looked like I had recreated a scene from the film there was that much claret in the room. Is that what they mean about things you watch having a subconscious effect on you or am I just a clumsy idiot? You decide!

Neil Quigley

I thought I would give the television show Staged ago this week. It features David Tennant and Michael Sheen basically on Zoom chats talking about a fictitious play they are meant to be rehearsing online. Their other half’s both make appearances and there are some pretty good cameos.

Each episode is only about fifteen minutes. They are very easy to watch. In a way it is basically about two actors having mini breakdowns at home. They made two series one in Lockdown 1 and the next in Lockdown 2. I have nearly finished the final one but I suspect they might try to make the trilogy as they will now both be stuck at home once again.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

One of my horses “Force Ten” had a run at Exeter last Sunday. Sadly he did not put in a very good display. He got too excited before the race and shot off to quick meaning he faded near the end. He came in seventh out of eighth, which is not ideal. He is getting his flu jab and therefore a bit of a rest this week.

The important thing is that he came home safely. We need to calm him down before his races. Does anybody know of any good relaxation podcasts that they can maybe recommend? It is all part of the fun of being involved with racing.

Force Ten
Force Ten

It has been quite a decent fortnight for my team Tottenham Hotspur. We have reached the final of the League Cup beating Brentford to secure a place at Wembley in April. We have made it through to the fourth round of the FA Cup. In the third round we played Marine at their ground which backs on to houses, people were watching the game from their back garden’s which was a bit strange. We won 5-0 with sixteen year old Alfie Devine becoming the youngest player to not only play for the club’s first team but to score for them to. It was nice to see some of the young players getting a chance.

In the Premier League we are in sixth position. Things are generally going alright but not as good as they could be. We continue to drop too many points when we are winning games and that is costing us dear. This season is a bit odd with games mostly played with no fans or when it allowed just a few thousand supporters. I think that has had effect on some results. It is looking like being potentially the closest title race in years. That should make the next few months exciting and action packed. Plenty more highs and lows to come my way I am sure. Come on you Spurs!

Tottenham Hotspur
Tottenham Hotspur

On a slightly separate note I was delighted to see that the great Mauricio Pochettino has been appointed as the new PSG boss. He was one of my favourite ever Spurs manager’s. I was actually sad to see him go. I liked his style and the way the team played under his guidance.

It was such a shame he did not win a trophy with us. I wish him all the best in his new role. He has inherited a great squad there. I am also very pleased that he did not end up at another English Club or I would have found it tough when we played his team.

Tottehham Hotspur
Tottehham Hotspur

You can listen to me still on Saturday afternoon’s between 2pm – 4pm on Radio Ninesprings https://www.radioninesprings.co.uk/

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Have fun and we will catch up again soon. Stay safe! Cheers Neil.

Strictly I’m A Celebrity

Hopefully we are now over half way through the second National Lockdown in England, if it does end on the originally planned date of the second of December. Personally it has not affected me too much. I am mostly working from home as I have been lucky enough to do since the first one. I am able to exercise outside at a park near to where I live. It is nice to get out in the fresh air for a bit although I have not yet bumped into my Morgan Freeman type character.

There have been some encouraging developments with potential vaccines, which does appear to be good news. However it still may be quite a while before life returns to anything like it was before this all started sadly. It is just not going to suddenly stop and disappear and it is presenting the country with its biggest logistical challenge since the Second World War. Something I am sure we will all come through if we work together and for each other.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Luckily for me one of my favourite television shows is back on our screens nightly for around the next three weeks. I do not watch a huge amount of TV but I always closely follow “I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here. I am a fan of Ant & Dec this show gives them the perfect platform to do what they do best, mess around and have some fun at their own and the campmates expense.

I have met a lot of the former stars of the show many of whom actually won it! These include Christopher Biggins, Kerry Katona, Carl Fogarty, Pat Sharp, Timmy Mallet, Tony Hadley, Katie Price and Tommy Cannon.

Neil Quigley with Christopher Biggins
Neil Quigley with Christopher Biggins

This series is of course going to be a little bit different as due to the current global situation. They are not in the jungle in Australia but at a castle in Wales. I am particularly gutted about this as at the start of this year I went to Australia and being such a huge fan of the show I stayed at the Versace Palazzo on the Gold Coast.

That is the Five Star Hotel were the celebrities stay after they get voted out of the show. I was looking forward to posting pictures of me in the same locations that they showed the ex-campmates in. I am going have to wait until next year to do that providing of course they use all the same places when they presumably go back to the Jungle again.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

They seem to have a really good and interesting selection of people taking part this year. It is a very strong line up, possibly helped by the fact a lot of their dairies would have been quite empty and that they were not required to be on a plane for twenty four hours. I liked the way they adapted the opening challenge to the new surroundings using the cliff. That was really clever and I think set the scene for what was to come nicely. It will basically be the same but different, as simple as that.

I was thinking after I had seen the new living arrangements that they might be going easy on them this year. But then I changed my mind when they covered everybody in bugs within the first five seconds of the first team trial. They are a very competitive bunch on the whole and of course include a man who has four Olympic Gold Medals, so he knows a thing or two about mind set and motivation. Plus the man is clearly a winner, not to mention a Knight. That works well with the Castle setting of course.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

There is not anybody who I desperately want to win at the moment. I do prefer it when all the campmates get on well and have a good old laugh with each other rather than start arguing. But I am also aware that a big falling out does make for good television. I think this year though for the good of the world it would be nice if they were a tight unit.

It is a show that I do not think I could ever do but everybody I have spoken to who has been on it says it is a once in a lifetime amazing experience, so never say never I guess. I am looking forward to the rest of the series. I think it is going to be a funny one!

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Another television programme I enjoy at this time of the year is Strictly Come Dancing. Like everything in the world it is a little bit different. However the main thing about it that appeals to me is the joy and enthusiasm the celebrities get from dancing itself. Alongside the brilliant bond that forms between them and their professional partner.

Happily these two things still remain the same this year. I tried one two hour Salsa class around fifteen years ago, struggled with the basic steps and never returned. Despite that I still reckon that these amazing dancers could teach me to do a passable routine, mainly down to my work ethic and their patience I suspect. But I still feel it is achievable.

Last weekend there was said to be a shock exit but when you get two half decent people in the dance off one of them has to leave. All the judges can do is decide from the bottom two which the viewers vote for. I enjoyed Anton being a guest judge, he was supportive, positive but also I thought fair. Surely when his time as a dancer on the show comes to an end this move would be the natural progression for him.

Even though at one point there was talk of him hosting it, if I am honest I think he would make a better judge. I do not really have a favourite this year, which is good as that means I can enjoy each of the performances with no interest or concern about the outcome. It is a fun, happy and lively show perfect for Saturday night.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

My girlfriend and I are trying to have as many different weekend meals as possible. In a way we are pretending that we are going to a certain style of restaurant every Saturday night. Except she always ends up doing the cooking. For the record she is fine with that! Most recently we went with a home-made burger. Believe it or not that is something I had not had for ages. I tend to avoid fast food places, which has been very easy for me during most of this year.

“We” made the actual burgers ourselves. By that I mean that Lynda mixed up the meat with the spices and created the headline part of it if you like. Then I got to construct my own creation within the bun. If you have not had them at home for a while I would recommend it. The best bit is that you can decide on the ingredients and the ratios. None of this one Gherkin or one slice of Cheese rubbish. You can put as much of those in it as you like. I built my own perfect hamburger. Another bonus is you do not feel hungry again ten minutes after you have eaten it. I enjoyed it more than a man of my age should have.

Home-Made Burger

I watched the new Michael McIntyre Netflix Special. I used to have a stand up show on DVD for Christmas every year. These do not exist anymore as the digital platform shows seem to be the replacement. I have been lucky enough to see him do a small warm up gig once and he was very funny. What I think he is really good at is finding things that we all do and can relate to and making them funny and amusing. I appreciate that sounds really easy but try it and you will find out it is not at all. It takes a lot of skill to achieve what he does.

I am not sure if he felt more freedom within this medium but he did swear a bit more than I expected although to be fair nowhere near as much as Frankie Boyle. It is a very well put together piece of comedy. Each story or anecdote builds on the previous one and then leads to the big pay off at the end. It is clever, amusing and relatable. I think that sums his stuff up nicely. It is worth a watch and easy to absorb.

Michael McIntyre
Michael McIntyre

During the first Lockdown I did a weekly pop quiz on my Facebook page for about sixteen weeks. People seemed to enjoy taking part and I had fun doing it. Therefore I decided to bring it back for this latest one. There have been two new episodes in series two so far with two more currently expected in this run. Each one lasts about half an hour. It consists of six rounds each containing five questions.

I have called it “Quigger’s Plays Pop” in honour of a pop quiz that I used to watch on television as a child. Using that title made it quite easy for me to create a theme tune for it. I host it on a Tuesday night at 8.30pm. If you are free and fancy having a bit of music based fun then why not join me? You can play on your own or in teams it does not matter. https://www.facebook.com/neil.quigley

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

A couple of horses from my small stable raced in the last fortnight. “Rock Legend” made his debut at Aintree. He was ridden by Harry Skelton and is trained by his brother Dan Skelton. He did alright for his first time on the track but was a bit weak, so will be held back for a while as he needs more time to grow into himself.

“Force Ten” had an outing at Taunton over the hurdles. He came in sixth out of seven. It was another bit of much needed racing experience for this young horse. Who is under the guidance of the great trainer Paul Nicholls. We may see him race again sometime next month.

Force Ten

Tottenham Hotspur for about an hour were top of the Premier League a couple of weeks ago. It did not last long but it felt good while it lasted. We have since had the International Break with the domestic season back this weekend Spurs face Manchester City today in what will be a massive game for us. It gives us a chance to put down a bit of a marker to the teams around us. I am excited and nervous about the match in equal measure.

As ever from England performances there were plusses and minuses in the results from the three games the national team played. Harry Kane passed the fifty cap mark and in doing so he becomes the most capped Tottenham player ever. If he does stay at White Hart Lane for his whole career, I can see him beating practically every record for the club and possibly for England to. Congratulations Harry he is one of our own!

Neil Quigley

You can listen to me still on Saturday afternoon’s between 2pm – 4pm on Radio Ninesprings https://www.radioninesprings.co.uk/

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Have fun and we will catch up again soon. Stay safe! Cheers Neil.