Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Chasing losers

In an avalanche of follow-them-over-a-cliff misguided loyalty, my early season flat profits have been largely eroded.

Royal Ascot was a shocker. The one bright spot was Profitable about whom I have been on the right side of the argument in his three wins this season. He obliged on a stunning opening day in the King’s Stand.

That was it. Nothing else. Part of the trouble was backing a few near misses in the preceding weeks. Encouraged by selections that ran well on the undulations of Epsom Downs, I pretty much blindly backed Architecture in the Ribblesdale (left her race behind in The Oaks), Haalick in the Jersey (outclassed at that level), and Make Fast in the Sandringham (possibly unlucky).

Other ill-judged Ascot allegiances included sprinter Suedois in the Diamond Jubilee on the basis of a good run in the Duke of York; Muntahaa in the King Edward VII after an impressive maiden win; and most woefully, Pallasator in the Gold Cup after his Henry II Stakes win on good ground, ffs!

My niece Robyn went to the Royal meeting on Prince of Wales Stakes day. She asked me for some advice and after a little thought, I duly offered up a whole bunch of losers.

“Hi Dave, thanks so much for the tips”, she messaged, “unfortunately I didn't have any winners but did make some back on a second!”

That would be Al Johra, beaten a country mile by Wesley Ward’s bullet, Lady Aurelia.

“A fantastic day out though!!” she continued “We had the hats and afternoon tea. Then to finish it off I saw the Queen!”

“Sorry about the rubbish tips I replied”

“No, thanks for those. I'd have had no idea what I was doing otherwise!”

So touching to be thanked for finding some losers. Like she couldn’t do that by herself. Sharp quaffed boy in the office didn't see it that way when I also offered him some dross. I shouted out Suedois for his girlfriend who was Royal Ascot-bound on the Saturday. He had asked for a pointer or two. This one ran well, but, was still a well beaten 7th.

There were no thanks from quiff-boy. Robyn could teach him some manners. He simply questioned whether I had ever given him any winning tips at all. Ever! I protested that this was miles away from the actuality. When my mate Tim's cousin Paul Stafford who is a trainer in County Dublin sent over three runners to a mid-week Musselbrugh, I told the boy that one of them would win. It's not my fault he steamed in to the wrong one. I also devilishly encouraged him into the famous Mullins' four timer at Festival 15, when Annie fluffed the last. Three winners out of four, right there.

A few of us caught the last knockings of Gold Cup day in Billy Hills after watching England v Wales in the pub. The only bright spot in England's desperate Euro 16 campaign. I was steaming that afternoon. Not just because we were ordering double rounds resulting from the five-deep scrum at the bar; but also because the informal fanzone created by the manager had us shoe-horned in front of the telly, shoulder to sweaty shoulder with dozens of others. The beers flowed and the sauna cooked.

I've got a couple of footie bets still alive. Poland outright at 50/1 each way is probably worth laying off now they are down at 18s. Part of me thinks they will give Portugal a game, so I might sit tight. Belgium outright at 12/1 also looks like one with which to enjoy the ride. Other combos, top scorers and group winners went out with Croatia’s last 16 exit.

The other big event on which I've been on the wrong side of the argument is of course the EU Referendum. On a strict value play, the Leave market was clearly the rick in the market. For once, I couldn't bring myself to bet against my better judgement. Leaving the EU seems wrong on so many levels.

Even a week later, by turns, I’m still numb, confused and angry. Quite apart from the crushing negative ramifications for the economy, equality and social justice, I also realise just how little I have in common with the majority of English people. A stranger in my own country. Ironic. That so many people voted to leave in the areas receiving the greatest amount of EU aid was baffling. The protest vote was pointless and misdirected. The racism underpinning the immigration row was vile and has unleashed hate crime on British streets. The lies peddled by Johnson, Gove and Farage were unforgiveable.

A mate commented that his solitary protest would be not to give up his seat on the bus “to the old folks who have messed up our future”.

And the bright spot? Like they have at the end of the news? Well, I drew Iceland in the office sweepstake..!



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