Good morning all,
Thanks for all the messages regarding Saturday, wish I could pull rabbits out of hats like that every week! Delighted when Gifted Master won the Stewards Cup, I was quite keen on his chances and it was one of three big-priced winners I managed to dig out on the day.
Tales of the weekend on the main piece, plus one from Nottingham which is where I'll be later on.
We roll up at Goodwood early on Friday where we’ll be betting in the Silver Ring, along with about 40 other bookmakers. The weather is set fair again, which is good news as the picnickers will be out on the grass and there should be a good spread of people. I say this as, if you cast your minds back 12 months, when Goodwood found itself in the middle of the wind and rain, it makes a big difference.
Goodwood itself is probably the most picturesque racecourse in the country. Set in the middle of the Downs, watching them go down the back as their colours flash against the backdrop is one of the most wonderful sights in racing. There’s a lot wrong with Goodwood – not least their pricing policy – but you couldn’t complain about the setting.
Daren likes to bet right down by the 2f pole, by the Irish bar. It’s always a popular location and the tables and chairs are soon filled once the doors open. Then, at 1pm sharp, Squinty McGinty (I’m going to take a guess and say that’s not his real name, but fair play if it is) and his band start their repertoire of Irish songs, which they play in the same rotation every day. The dot on the card is that Delilah will wrap proceedings up just before the last, and you’ll not get better than 1-20 on that occurrence. In fact, we know the final three tricast – The Fields Of Athenry, The Wild Rover, Delilah. Every time.
It’s clear early on that there’s not the business there was last year and bet numbers are down, but the punters down in the bar are good ones and thankfully they’re having a decent bet. Plenty of scores, forty and fifty pound bets, plus the occasional three figure one. We’re having a few issues with the keyboard though, which keeps freezing up and holding up proceedings but Daren is battling on manfully. Until just after race 3, when it gives up the ghost completely, and unless we can get a new keyboard from RDT (they are the guys that sort out any IT problems on course) quickly, it’ll be game over. I run off to find them (in 30 degree heat, great fun) whist Daren tries to pay out on the previous race (which, with great timing, has a Rule 4. Daren does the maths in his head.)
We get a new keyboard but they are already at the post for the big sprint. Little time to bet. But, no sooner have prices gone up from us that in comes a £550 bet on Battaash. And that’s it. That’s the book. We’re standing one horse, effectively. And as Battaash turns the race into a procession, Daren mutters something under his breath and his mood does not improve.
However, we couldn’t have written the result for the fifth race better ourselves – only two people back the winner, Don Armado, and the places are skinners. Daren starts to smile again, we kick on from it, and despite the jolly winning the next, we still manage a winning day.
The shock comes at the end of the day – Squinty has only gone and got the 1-20 chance turned over as he goes with Delilah second last and The Wild Rover last! Squinty, what have you done….?
Saturday is a different kettle of fish. We bet in more or less the same place and there’s a lot more people, but every bet is a fiver win or £2.50 e/w. More bets then, but less cash flying around. We do take a few decent ones as the day progresses but this is a Saturday crowd, out for a good time and it’s harder work. “I haven’t had a winner yet”, bemoans one woman before the Stewards Cup, “so what do you fancy?” I give her Gifted Master and after the race, she thinks I’m some sort of genius. Just doing my job, ma’am…
The worst incident of the afternoon comes when Walton Street forgets to have his cheekpieces applied and is withdrawn before the start of the second. Here comes the whopping Rule 4 – 25p. One bloke has £20 each way Sir Chauvelin and we get the “robbing bastards” comment as he’s paid some £60 less than he’s expecting. You get used to it. Most people are understanding but I do wish racecourses would use the big screen to tell punters exactly what’s happened. Half the time announcements get lost in the noise and people, especially your average Saturday crowd, are pretty clueless as to what’s going on, so something saying “X was withdrawn and you are entitled to your money back, and as a result winners will get Y deducted from their winnings” – is that so hard to ask?
Results are in our favour, and it’s another decent winning day for us. Squinty goes back to convention and Delilah is the last song of the day. His timing is perfection – as he hits the last note, the final one goes into the stalls for the lucky last. He’s got it down to a T, has Squinty. We pack up, and the good lady and I head for Worthing for fish n chips and a walk down the seafront. The perfect finish to a great weekend. Where's my next Festival? Oh yes – Yarmouth….
On to Nottingham today then, and Ed Dunlop's Hallalulu makes some appeal in the nursery at 5.50. Three runs at 6f have revealed little, but this step up to 1m should suit her on breeding (half-sister Al Nafoorah, also trained by Ed Dunlop, was a winner over 1m, and there's plenty of stamina on the dam's side) and although she finished last of 8 to Aquarius at Newmarket last time, she wasn't thrashed out of sight and that form is actually working out okay. I have a feeling she's nicely treated for her nursery debut tonight and I expect to see a much better effort.
Today's selection – Hallalulu 5.50 Nottingham
Good luck with all your bets today,