Hold The Back Page: 04/06/2011



The conman, the Derby and Seville


When a Picasso goes at auction it's usually a win-win-win situation.

The collector is happy, if a few million of the Queen's pounds lighter; the seller's upkeep of the country estate is assured for years to come; and Sotheby's rakes in a tidy little sum in the process. When, in the case of Silverskaya, the mare pregnant with a foal later to be known as the Derby contender Seville, the horse is "bought" for the best part of a million by a conman via the unfortunate Charlie Gordon-Watson (Sir Alex Ferguson's bloodstock agent, no less), the auctioneer, Tattersalls, is left holding the baby – almost literally. The conman, a barman called Michael Baker, was jailed. Will he get any pleasure out of a Seville win in the Derby today?

This Pole position is...off the pace

Not for this column lazy, hackneyed jokes about Polish builders, but it takes a blind man not to spot the irony in the problems besetting the construction of Warsaw's 55,000-seater stadium ahead of the 2012 European Championship. Masterminded by an Austrian company, the arena was supposed to be finished by the end of this month, and events planned for August and September have been cancelled owing to building flaws in a staircase. What's more, the new motorway that takes you there is on hold due to Chinese firm COVEC allegedly not paying sub-contractors. Where's a Polish builder when you need one? Sorry.

Ace poetic justice from golfing gods

Ernie Els complained that "the punishment didn't fit the crime," and his antipathy towards Elliot Saltman was echoed across the driving range. Saltman, lest we forget, did a bit of a Monty last year, repeatedly marking his ball incorrectly on the greens at a tournament in Russia. OK, it's hardly Ratko Mladic, but in golf them's the rules and woe betide the poor soul who trangresses: tarred, feathered and, in Saltman's case, three months in the stocks. So there were a few grimacing faces when this week the 29-year-old Scot hit a hole in one at the Welsh Open – a sponsor's car was on offer for such a feat. On the 13th. Unlucky for some, Saltman aced 17 and won a mere bottle of bubbly. Cue schadenfreude all round.

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