If I came down from the commentary gantry at the end of the Shergar Cup and wanted to speak to Alistair, I knew exactly where to look - he’d be watching the Closing Ceremony in the quietest corner he could find, well away from the spotlight.
That was Alistair. A man who would, and often did work morning noon and night to make sure a project was successful, and then be positively the last person to step forward and accept the acclaim that was rightly due.
Alistair loved racing, loved racing people and loved Ascot Racecourse. He had some of the finest PR skills I have ever come across in anyone I have dealt with in any sport, and his tireless work with his colleagues at the International Racing Bureau with trainers and jockeys is quite simply a cornerstone of why the Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup has become what it is today.
It became tradition for there to be a Production Meeting in the days ahead of the Shergar Cup, in “Studio 6” we used to call it (though in reality a local restaurant), where we would talk through plans for the day. The rest of us would then head home but for Alistair it was straight back to work. I still have some of the 3am emails he sent with answers to any issues.
When the QIPCO British Champion Series started it came as no surprise to hear Alistair was on the team as PR Manager. Rod Street, the CEO of that organisation, knew his work was peerless and that he held the respect of the media.
Quite simply the hand of Haggis was always the seal of success.
Devoted to his beloved Arsenal, Ali thrilled us all when marriage to Nim led to the arrival of son Alfie, on whom he doted. That such happiness should have been followed after such a short time by the cruelty of his illness and inevitable passing from Motor Neurone Disease last year has been hard for his friends and family to bear.
Being able to say you were a friend of Alistair Haggis will always be something to cherish, and I’ll admit before my days work in the commentary box is done this afternoon, my eyes will go skywards.
It is an appropriate gesture by Ascot and Dubai Duty Free to have the Silver Saddle today named in Alistair’s honour, and it is wonderful we can welcome his family to the place he called ‘home’ for so many happy years to present the trophy.
But how we all wish it wasn’t like this.
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