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Horse sense

Pity the staff of Sandford special school in Gloucestershire, who got a mauling in the press for taking last Friday off for a flutter at Cheltenham.

Helen Bartleman, the acting headteacher, justified the decision, saying staff needed time together to bond after a difficult year. We can offer them a better excuse: they can say they went to Cheltenham to see Lord Adonis.

Merely mentioning the name of the education minister and close adviser to Tony Blair should make local authority officials grovel. With luck they will not know that a horse called Lord Adonis ran in the 2pm race (it came 15th).

A DfES spokesman said he did not think the minister was aware of his equine namesake. "He's never struck me as the gambling type," he said.

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