Published: 06/01/2005, Volume III, No. 5937 Page 34

When Deano's Beano enjoyed his finest hour winning Ascot's Long Walk Hurdle, Trent strategic health authority associate director of commissioning Charles Allen was stuck in a meeting.

But the former Newark and Sherwood primary care trust chief executive, who for some years has been a part owner of racehorses, has had plenty of excitement at racecourses across the country.

His latest and largest share - one thirteenth - is in a two-year-old filly called Trylco who has run once, beaten by a neck at Doncaster. His owners are hopeful of a good season in 2005.

'As a boy, my child minder was keen on racing, so I grew up knowing all about the likes of Lester Piggott, ' says Charles.

'Then about eight years ago my family gave me a present of membership of the Elite Racing Club, the nearest I could get to being an owner.' A couple of years later a friend persuaded him to join a syndicate and he acquired a one four-hundredth share in hurdler Deano's Beano, trained by Martin Pipe, who chalked up 11 wins.

Charles followed his progress at meetings around the country, but 'when I turned up he usually ran second'.

'Having a share in this was a profitable business, ' he says. 'My share cost me about£700 plus VAT a year. His winnings more than covered that.' He admits that being in the winners' enclosure 'gives you a real buzz'.

'There is nothing like hobnobbing with the Dubai royal family!'