And the winner is...

Agent Phil (4 to 1), coming first in the third annual Beardy Book Read-through Sweepstakes, closely followed by Publisher Jane (12 to 1), and Editor Sarah (11 to 2). All beating the odds-on favourite, Mr James (2 to 1), who suffered a stumble at the last fence (at least he didn't have to be put down). He's won the race for the last two years in a row, so the bookies are delighted not to be shelling out on him this time.

We spoke to Agent Phil in the winner's enclosure after the BBRS (sponsored by Martell -- makers of brandy since sometime before last Tuesday -- and Captain Whiffy's Emproium of Fabulous Fish), where he told us that it had been a hard race, especially with the going being soft this time (he prefers firm to good), but that he'd been in training all season. Then, sweating profusely, he launched into a medley of Gracy Fields numbers, interspersed with the odd, "Hey-oop, chuck!"

Final results are as follows:

Phil:06 June 2006 18:15:39
Jane:06 June 2006 19:15:45
Sarah:07 June 2006 09:33:34
James:07 June 2006 12:08:07

What amazes me is that this was a 150,000 word book (actually slightly more than that) they had to wade through, but everyone has come back with their comments within 19 hours of each other.