Good morning all,
Happy Birthday to me, then! 50 years old. Can't say I feel a day over 49. Thanks to my wonderful partner Caroline for organising a superb day at Southwell yesterday, it was a laugh from start to finish and I have to say I was delighted when Jonjo won “my” race (although my pocket wasn't)! That man can tell some stories, when he packs up training there's surely a career as a raconteur on the racing circuit! What a day.
Today, I'm having a day out at Warwick and I fancy my chances with that card. That can't end well, can it? Here's the second part of my Aintree tales from the weekend, plus a a selection I like a lot….
And so to Saturday. We awake to sunshine. Four seasons in three days, and by the end of the day, I’ll be slightly sunburnt. Which, given I was wringing my socks out Thursday, is just incredible.
The car park is no better, worse if anything, but no matter. We’re in with the gear by 10am, and my first job is to rewrite all the National runners on paper in alphabetical order, with their racecard number by the side of them. The reason? No matter how many times you ask for the number of the horse, some will insist (or simply don’t know) they give you the name. So, with a handy reference guide stuck to the joint, it makes life easier and keeps things running smoothly.
My office for the day is the tiny space I’ve stood in for the last two days – again, we’re in the same spot, we can’t believe out luck – only today, I’ll be standing in it even longer. We’ve got sandwiches, Pringles (Teryaki flavour – they’re fantastic), drinks all on standby. If you need the loo, go now, because once you’re in, you’ll not be moving for seven hours.
There’s a parade of champions going on, and as ever, the tannoy is deafening. Colin Brown, doing the commentary for it, is hard to please – he describes Always Waining as winning the Topham “just three times.” Crikey. Bet he describes Everest as “a bit of a hill.”
We put the National runners on the board and do take some money. Quite a few like to place their bets for the whole day early, and as you’re not busy, it’s no bother at all. By the time we switch to betting on the first race, we’ve taken £500. Worth the effort. I have a few Pringles for lunch.
There seems to be more ladies here than yesterday, weirdly. We’re merrily betting along when we see the man himself. Yes, JP is in the ring. Everyone’s on alert, he’s got the favourite in Sire Du Berlais running here. Will he back it? Who with? But no, he has a laugh and a joke with one or two of the books but, as far as the ring goes, it seems he’s not had a bet. Sire Du Berlais finishes well beaten. He knew.
Business picks up for the second race and it’s brisk. One For Rosie and Angels Breath are the ones they want, and one lady backs both each-way. We’ll come back to her later. Reserve Tank isn’t a skinner in the book – there’s a couple of £10 ew bets for him in the book – but it’s a decent one and we win a good sum. The dead-heat for third causes plenty of consternation, with many not understanding that they’re not getting back what it says on the docket – and our lady punter is convinced I’ve done her, twice. Eventually she sees what I’m saying and not only takes her winnings, but has it all back on the next! See, customer service, that’s what it’s about.
Now, next door, there’s an issue. Not only is there a queue a mile long to be paid out, but they’ve a punter that’s not happy with something, and she’s holding everything up. The queue is splitting the ring in half and is causing a bit of a block. But that’s good news for us – the punters that can’t get through are all being siphoned off to us! They spend 15 minutes dealing with her and it really sets them back. There but for the grace of God, you think. Ornua is a small loser in the book, but nothing terrible.
Then Neil, the ring manager, comes down the line. “Keep an eye on your money,” he warns, “one hod has been dipped already”. That’s bad enough, but we hope it’s no-one we know and later on, we find out that it is. It’s a friend of Derek’s, and the sum that’s gone is into four figures. I feel awful for him, he and his team and all good guys, and it puts a downer on the day for me.
Here’s Apple’s Jade. The bets come raining in. £600-500 twice, plenty of £100 bets, and when it gets beat, we know it’ll take a dreadful result in the National now if we’re to go away losing on the day.
Kildisart winning is another reasonable result and then it’s onto the National. “This is the worst bet I’ve ever had” says one punter, as he has £100 on Tiger Roll. Plenty want to be with the jolly, and the price collapses late on as the books try and lay off. Anibale Fly is popular, Rathvinden less so, and of the e/w picks, Vintage Clouds and Joe Ferrell are the ones we don’t want placed.
I have to say what a privelege it was to watch Tiger Roll win again, it’ll be something to tell the grandchildren in time, and although the payout queue was large, you sort of didn’t mind giving the money back. Being there to witness something that might not happen again in a long time was worth it. And the book? We lost – wait for it – £50 on the race. If the second, Magic Of Light, had won, we’d have copped the lot. Not one single person backed it and it was just about the best result in the book!
The gap between the National and the last, at 6.20, is a joke. Many just collect and go home. Who can be bothered to wait an hour for the last? As such, it’s a nothing race and we simply get it out the way. It’s all over for another year. The gear is packed away and for old time’s sake, we call in at McDonalds at Uttoxeter on the way back for tea. The Martyn Of Leicester lads are already in there, having had the same idea as us! “Okay if we put these on your expenses, Martyn?” we joke, as we order. They’ve had a good day too – they must have, it’s milkshakes all round! Back to Derek’s for half nine, and I’m home for ten. My hips, feet, neck all ache. But I’d do it all again tomorrow.
On to today then and I like the chances of Fortescue in the first at Warwick, the 2.10. I've seen him in the flesh a couple of times and he's simply been a big, backward horse that's needed time. However, that was a lot better at Hereford last time when he chased home a couple of 130-rated sorts and as long as that wasn't a fluke, and he is improving, he must go close here. I've had a good e/w bet at the price. Here's hoping for that birthday winner!
Good luck with all your bets today,