Thursday, 11 March 2021

Cheltenham Festival: 20 years of pleasure and pain

I am ridiculously excited for this year’s Cheltenham Festival. The lockdowns merely emphasise the absence of other distractions.

I’ve updated stats summarising my punting performance at every Festival since my debut in 2000. I’ve shared this with Bacchy, my original Festival partner in crime; and decided to stick it up on this blog as well. Warts and all.

Looking at the thing in its entirety, the cliché ‘roller-coaster’ springs to mind. There shouldn’t be this much red in the sheet. That said, across the decades (!) it seems I've contrived to scrape an average nestling in the black and an overall Return On Investment (ROI) of 14%.

The few sentences of narrative against each Festival are to provide a bit of context because as old age creeps in, I’m beginning to muddle up the various years. As I wrote them, some of the memories and moments made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, possibly more so with the passage of time.

I’m always surprised how little I end up staking. The amount of wedge I win or lose is of course important. I’m always desperate to at least break even. But not really motivated by escalating my stakes and potential profits. That comes second to the sheer thrill of beating the bookies, finding one at a big price, knowing I’m on the right one, working it out, admiring a class horse; and on the flip side the agony of near misses, bad staking, bad judgement, cluelessness… And people to share it all with. Yeah, it’s the passion, not the money.

2021 will be 21 years of pleasure and pain. And recurring blind optimism.