I HAD a good day at Cheltenham yesterday – but sitting in a pair of tracksuit pants and a hoodie with the laptop open on a bookmaker’s website, made the experience a lonelier one.
The same way you often have to fix your sights on a platform vending machine to know if your train is actually moving, I think I needed to dance for joy on a carpet of beaten dockets next to those whose emotions where in contrast to mine.
Alas — and this isn’t the worst set-up in the world — the money just kept trickling into my sportsbook account with little fanfare. And though it kept coming, it was like interest on the Holy Communion money I converted to Sammy Squirrel Saver Stamps all those years ago.
I started the day – aptly I thought – with Wishfull Thinking. This year – you may be aware – the sports editor has pulled the purse strings yet tighter. Where 12 months ago I wasted €50 of the newspaper’s money, this year a more modest total of €20 would be mine to piddle away.
I had a good scan of the various tipsters, Twitter and the Examiner. Two of the faces on Irish gamblings’ Mount Rushmore – Pat Keane and Today FM’s John Duggan – were turned towards the Richard Johnson-steered mount. That was good enough for me.
I threw on €2 each way – big spender, ladies – and he trotted in second behind Tony McCoy. I can’t complain, though €4.69 dropping into your account doesn’t quite set you up for a run on Paddy Power. But as Ted Walsh said at one stage yesterday: there’s plenty of horse in this one yet.
So at 2.05pm, with the Pertemps Final, it was a Ruby Thursday for me. I’m not one for a bromance or male adulation but I wandered in town last night with a fake shiner eye and a jockey’s helmet. I lost my whip though.
Sivota came in third I think, earning me €9.75 on a €3 each way bet. Slowly, slowly, catchy monkey.
And then to the Ryanair Chase. Colm Murray, admitting it was a bit of “Duirt bean liom go nduirt bean lei” let it be known on RTE that Ruby was bigging up the chances of Poquelin to punters. ‘Not for me, Jeff’ as they say on Soccer Saturday.
I threw my considerable financial clout behind Kalahari King: €2 each way netting me the life-changing sum of €5.56.
Then to the big one. Here, there was much to ponder. Big Buck’s was a miserly evens – and you, readers, deserve more bang for your buck than me betting on evens.
As the ever-quotable Ted Walsh said of the anxious Paul Nicholls-trained horse: “he’s a box-walker”. I was walking my box too as I pondered the next move. Ultimately, after a well-timed email from an Examiner colleague who is the Rain Man of National Hunt racing, I went for Mourad, who was under Paul Townend. A €4 each way bet ultimately earned us a €9 return. Vegas, baby.
And so the 4pm. This one was easy – there was always Neil Diamond records in our house growing up. And come to think of it, there was always a Davy Russell there too. So Beautiful Sound, ridden by my brother’s namesake was the obvious choice. A fiver to place saw me pocket a cheeky €11.25. Not bad.
By the final run out, I was hoping an actual win would be the cherry on an afternoon that saw me pick six places from the first half a dozen races.
Like Tony Soprano, Junior was the one I went to. And what a run. €4 each-way pocketed a nifty, afternoon-high €24.67. From little acorns do mighty oaks grow and I’ll be back with a fresh €20 note to take on the house again. And this time I’m going to get dressed and walk to the bookies.