Home alone. Mrs A is visiting Auntie Sue in Tenerife for a few days. Very nice too. Sunshine, warmth. Wine, cheese... Wine, cheese.
It’s a weekend trip: Thursday to Tuesday. (Whisper it, but that sounds more like a short week to me.)
The girls are out too. Daughter No. 1 is being Bohemian in Camden and Daughter No. 2 is sleeping over/birthday partying.
So the Sunday morning calm, after some frenetic Saturday sporting action, is giving me a chance to have a first look at some Cheltenham ante-post action. I may not even poke my bounce outside the front door this weekend.
Of course there’s the domestic challenges to content with too. “Daddy, that pile of clothes on my bedroom floor needs to be ready for school on Monday. Bye-eee.” I had to fix the washing machine door first. And the ironing to look forward to later. (But I don’t do socks.)
But first, a squint at the markets. Which of my 40 to follow horses might line up at the festival?
I snaffle Melodic Rendezvous at 25-1 e-w for the Champion Hurdle, availing myself of SkyBet’s Non Runner No Bet. The consensus is that he’ll need soft ground to turn up. I’m still not convinced by that, but at best he’s an outsider. Jezki too, at 12-1 e-w (also NRNB) will have to improve. So this is a small stake.
I like Carole’s Spirit at 25-1 e-w in the Mares Hurdle, who will relish better ground than last time. I back Red Sherlock for the Neptune at 7-1. I missed the fancy prices before last Saturday’s race, displaying rare restraint in wanting to see him perform against better horses. Both are taken on with Victor Chandler’s Non Runner Free Bet offer. Because it’s still only 2nd Feb and there are big risks that they may not turn up.
And in the RSA, Annacotty at 20-1 e-w and Many Clouds at 25-1 e-w. The former showed at Cheltenham last time out that the track should not be feared and impressed with a gutsy weight carrying performance. Many Clouds has plenty of class. But he may end up in the JLT. So NRFB again.
Then it comes to the Albert Bartlett. Sausalito Sunrise is a massive price. 50-1. I like this horse, but showed nothing like his quality in a quagmire at Doncaster last time. At that price I’m prepared to forgive this rank bad run.
But someone at VC Bet is having a laugh. I contact the online help centre:
11.50. System: Antonin - Contact Centre has joined this session! “Hello Dave, you're speaking to Antonin. How may I help?”
11.51. Dave: “Hi I'm just about to strike a bet on the Albert Bartlett ante-post market for Cheltenham. The horse I want is listed on your market as Sausalito Sausage. Can you confirm that this is actually the Philip Hobbs-trained Sausalito Sunrise?” I think it’s a misprint on your list. A joke maybe?”
11.52. Antonin - Contact Centre: “I am just looking into that for you, one moment please.”
12.07. Antonin - Contact Centre: “Sorry to keep you waiting, I am still looking into this for you.”
12.08. Dave: "OK.”
12:20. Antonin - Contact Centre: “We made a mistake. Very sorry. I’ve told the trader off. The bet will go through correctly and it will be corrected shortly. Thanks for letting us know.”
Thanks Antonin. I’ll be back for more shortly.
OK, where do we keep the ironing board?