First off, it turns out I wasn’t the only person who took a beating on the opening day. A quick text around of friends and fellow punters produced similar sorry results. So I am not feeling quite so bad.
Secondly, I watched the Channel 4 highlights on Tuesday night and made a discovery: Suntiep, part of my 50-cent each-way Lucky 15, ran on to finish third in the National Hunt Chase at 11/1. Meaning that instead of winning nothing all afternoon I won... €1.88. Meaning that my running total after Day One, instead of being minus €50, was merely minus €48.12. A triumph, you’ll agree. It has infused me with new hope and new heart. Wednesday will be my day, no question.
A €1 Lucky 15 is my opening gambit. Faugheen in the Neptune even though I have bad memories of Pont Alexandre (same connections, same race) last year. The John Kiely-trained Carlingford Lough in the RSA because Kieran O’Connor in Dungarvan – many readers will know him as WLR FM’s splendid GAA commentator – was on the other day and was upbeat about his chances. Captain Conan in the Queen Mother as Sire de Grugy strikes me as an unconvincing favourite in the absence of Sprinter Sacre. And Killultagh Vic in the bumper on the basis that Willie – at this stage he doesn’t need a surname any more than Ruby does – is as likely to win with the outsider of his entries as the favourite (viz Briar Hill 12 months ago).
For old times’ sake I have a €1 each way on Sizing Europe in the Queen Mother. For reasons of Endaesque solidarity outlined yesterday I’m go with Enda Bolger’s Star Neuville in the Cross-Country. And I’m aware it’s foolish given that he’s top weight, but I can’t resist Dunguib in the Coral Cup.
The afternoon begins well, Faugheen banishing the spectre of Pont Alexandre with a Terminator of a performance in the opener. He takes the third-last by the roots, is none clever at the second-last but hammers on regardless and blows the opposition away in the straight. He’s six years old. He’ll be back (try saying it in an Austro-Hollywoodian accent. Works better). Carlingford Lough doesn’t disgrace himself in the next but, like most of my horses on Tuesday, never looks like winning it either. My drooping spirits are temporarily lifted when someone tweets to say they enjoyed the Pogues reference in today’s column. They droop again after I put a tenner on Captain Conan. Oh dear God: Captain Conan isn’t under pressure coming around the home turn, he’s under pressure going around the first turn. Before long Barry Geraghty pulls him up. Sizing Europe does himself proud but just gets run out of it for third, so I’ve done my money there too, and Dunguib and Star Neuville provide no joy either.
Some time ago myself and my sister came to the conclusion that there is a line in Blackadder for every conceivable occasion. Sure enough, one – from the highwayman episode in series three — leaps to mind. “This is turning out a real rotten evening.”
Desperate times call for desperate measures. I nip into the nearest shop, purchase the first paper nearest the door and scan the field for the Fred Winter. Aha, here we go. Katgary. Ex-French, now with Paul Nicholls, reputed to have done a sparkling piece of work at Wincanton recently. That’ll do. Into the bookies’ and a fiver each way at 8/1.
Katgary runs well. Katgary runs very well. In fact, Katgary is poised on the heels of the leaders at the second-last when some vile, inconsiderate quadruped in front of him does the splits and hampers him badly. I curse inventively but inwardly. The man two down from me looks around and frowns. Maybe I was wrong about the ‘inwardly’ part.
Credit to Katgary and Daryl Jacob, they rediscover a rhythm and come storming up the hill to finish second. The lady behind the counter hands me €15. I feel all warm and glowy; I am actually getting something back at last.
If I were a romantic at heart, bold and buccaneering and dangerous, I’d lump the 15 on the bumper and to hell with it. Being none of these things I settle for a fiver on Killultagh Vic. In the event he’s barely mentioned. So that’s five euro back from Katgary and four euro back, courtesy of Faugheen, on the Lucky 15. Ugh.
Blackadder was right. This is turning out a really rotten meeting.
* Running total after Day Two: minus €85.12