Each Way Theft

It’s Mug Punting Saturday! I feel the need for a shockingly conceived, poorly executed, cheaply staked each-way Lucky 15. A cheery, comforting bet on the Channel 4 races is very much needed on this wintry Saturday afternoon.

Working out a sloppy Lucky 15 is as much intellectual rigour as I can muster right now. The grey matter took a pounding last night. The Cunninghams were round. That's probably sufficient explanation. Mrs A's sweet-spiced kilo of fillet steak was an unconfined joy. The many fine bottles of accompanying Rioja and real ale were also very welcome. The company was exemplary. And as the last bottle was drained and the castle doors bolted at about 3am, I didn't need to ponder for too long where, exactly, the night had gone.

So I offer up my soothing combination more in hope than expectation.

2.20 Haydock - Mister Marker, 13-2
Much better over hurdles than recent disappointing fencing form. Acts on soft.

3.10 Ascot – Wishfull Thinking, 15-2
Needs to go close now that Pricewise has put him up to win the Champion Chase, and almost bound to now that I’ve kicked him out of my Ten To Follow. 

3.30 Haydock – Take The Breeze, 8-1
Winless for yonks, but signs of improvement over Christmas and will find his favoured heavy ground here. Jockey’s claim takes off a few pounds.

3.45 Ascot – Renard, 12-1
Close to the bottom of the handicap and still going right way though not nailed on at this trip.

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....What a shambles. 4th, 6th, 5th and 5th. That doesn't add up to much each-way thievery at all. But it was a pleasant Saturday afternoon's racing, all the same. So how did I end up outside in the biting wind, balancing dangerously on the sloping roof tiles and hanging on to the edge of the bathroom window frame? Because I was putting up a bird box. No ordinary bird box this one. It has fibre-optic cables and power wires linking up to a camera which will hopefully beam us lots of pictures of little Blue Tits raising their young come May. It's a bit Big-Brother isn't it? 

Even the simplest of jobs seem to become over complicated. I found myself amongst a tradesman's bazaar of power drills, screwdrivers, plugs, instructions, cables and tea cups. Ducking in and out of the window every 20 minutes to catch the races didn't help.

But anyway, job done. Bird box up and wired in. Punting wedge committed and lost. I did enjoy Somersby's well-deserved moment of Group 1 joy though. Henrietta Knight in good form and looking well; partner Terry Biddlecombe back on track after his stroke. It's taken them a while to find the key to this horse, but yesterday's win was compelling evidence of progress. 

Today I've got an interest in Blazing Tempo in the 2m chase in Ireland, a bigger interest in Red Rocco over a 3 mile trip novice hurdle trip for the first time at Towcester and a desperate stake in Granville Island finding any kind of form at Market Rasen in a novice hurdle. 

And to complete the multi-tasking theme of this weekend, we are off to Maldon for a windy game of crazy golf and a large bag of salty chips!

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Somewhere between the grinding road works near St Albans and junction 29 of the M25, Maldon became Southend-on-Sea. We convinced ourselves that this afternoon, we needed the brash, gaudy baubles of Essex's biggest resort more than the genteel charms of the River Blackwater's oldest town. 

Despite Blazing Tempo's profitable win at Fairyhouse, this destinational decision was still the best result of the day. A good, hearty tramp along the shingle beach, a refuel in the cafe overlooking the sea, a low-level gamble on the- two-penny falls and a train trip to the very end of the pier. All in gorgeous sunshine, filtered by a good honest north-westerly. 

End of the pier show

Kursaal Flyers, 'Little Does She Know' circa 1976 anyone?

Arty lamp-posts on the prom



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