A long and fruitless day on Wednesday.

I dropped the girls off early and came back to the farm.  At 9:30 Sarah, my personal trainer, tipped up and we went for a run – she told me that she is going to be on TV soon in a series called “Fat pets and their fat owners” helping a few fat pet owners to lose weight. 

Apparently there’s a theory that pets develop a lot of the same characteristics as their owners over time.  Sarah asked me if Robbie, our family dog, had any unusual characteristics.  “He tries to hump anything that moves” I said.  It brought the conversation to a quick end.

A little later I took Robbie for a walk through our fields.  Robbie is fully person sized – around 12 stone, huge and hairy.  We have three woods at the farm, and they’re all full of bluebells at the moment – it’s a lovely place to go for a walk.  We got to the top of the hill and Robbie wandered off across a field – I shouted at him to come back.  He stopped and stared at me for a few seconds and then carried on on his way.  He soon disappeared out of sight – I waited a few minutes but he clearly wasn’t coming back.

I trudged back to the house – Jane was unloading her car. 

“Bloody disrespectful dog” I said, “that’s the second day running he’s wandered off half way through the walk.  Does he ever do it to you?”  Jane smiled politely and shook her head.

I headed off to Ascot just after 12 – I got lost and didn’t get there until 2.  I saw Pete had a runner in the next race so I called him to find out if he’d come down.

“I haven’t come” he said, “my bloody horse has stayed in the stalls for his last two runs”.  I rang Betfair to have a bet – Micky Sartoris, a long timer on the Telbet team, answered the phone.  We got chatting – my pick was a non-runner so I asked Micky what was going to win.  “I dunno” he said “there’s been a bit of money for Laa Rayb”.  That was enough for me – “I’ll have a monkey on that” I said.

I wandered out to watch the race.  They broke from the stalls, and Don’t Panic, Pete’s horse, stayed put.  I laughed inwardly.  Laa Rayb tried to make it from the front but was soon beaten.  I headed off to find Tom Dascombe.

Tom was in the owners and trainer’s bar with Mick, his dad and a few others.  He had a runner in the next at Pontefract and she was favourite – I asked him if she was going to win.  He grimaced and shrugged.  “Come on” I said, “will she or won’t she??”.  He ummed and aahed a bit more – “she’ll win, she’ll win!”. 

She was around 7/2 in the betting.  I rang up and had a fair bet – she then drifted to 11/2.  She tried to make it from the front but was passed 2 furlongs out.  Adrian McCarthy pushed her along in second place and gave it everything as the line approached – she nicked the race in the dying strides, a great ride from McCarthy.

I was happy.  We went down to the pre-parade ring to see Marine Boy – he looked absolutely magnificent, the best I’ve ever seen him.  Tom Goff was there – “He’s looking bloody well” he said.  We went through to the ring, and Richard Kingscote came in with a smile on his face.  Tom gave him his instructions;

“Whatever you do, don’t let him hit the front early – you must hold him back”.  Richard nodded.

I decided he was going to win and phoned a big bet through to Betfair – “put it on carefully” I said.  We went through to the stands where we met with a few others, including Alex Gowar, until recently part of the Betfair marketing team.

“So Bert” Alex said, “why is Marine Boy 11/2 with the bookies and only 5.4 on Betfair?”  I held up my hands and shrugged.  We looked out towards the stalls – they opened and the horses flew out, but one stayed put.  It was Marine Boy.  He lost around 15 lengths – Richard made a token effort to catch up but gave up after two furlongs and cantered home.

We caught up with them in the unsaddling area.  Richard had a red face – “I’m really sorry” he said, “I gave him a tug to slow him out of the stalls and it stopped him in his tracks”.  I smiled – “not a problem” I said.  We went back to the bar feeling a bit low.

I headed home a short while later, and I called Jane from the car park.  She wasn’t happy – “So why did you eat the custard?” she demanded.  I said nothing.  “That was a whole pot, enough for all of us.  They’ve had to eat their apple pie on it’s own”. 

“Did you tell them it was me?” I said. 

“Yes – I told them their big fat dad has eaten their custard!”.

“What!” I said, “can’t you show some solidarity in these matters?”

“I’ll show some bloody solidarity if you don’t eat the bloody custard!”

I shook my head and climbed into the car – more disrespect coming my way from my children.  Things are bad enough as they are.  One of Dora’s teachers asked her what her Daddy does – “he eats and watches horse races” she said.

I got home late and settled in behind my computer.  For some reason I’ve done well in the past on the last race of the day, so I decided to have a bet on the last at Kempton.  I spent a while going through it and I settled on Lucky Dancer – a lightly raced 4yo maiden by Selkirk.  He’d had 2 recent runs and hadn’t done a great deal – he’d been ridden by Alan Munro for the first time last time and Alan had taken the ride again.

Alan’s a thinking jockey, and having ridden the horse once he could be guaranteed to have learnt from it and improve second time around.  Selkirk is a big muscly type and his progeny invariably need a run or two to get fully fit.  There were good reasons to expect some improvement.  I backed him steadily from 19 down to 13 over ten minutes, taking everything I saw.  He broke well and got to the front – he led the race from pillar almost to post, but was caught on the line by another longshot having traded 1.4 in running.

As I sat contemplating my fortunes, a mouse hopped out from behind the fireplace.  Cool as you like he wandered up to my newspaper and tore a large piece off – he looked up at me for a moment before heading back to his hole, pulling the large piece of paper in behind him.

Jane had appeared in the doorway.  “Even the f**king mice in this house don’t respect me” I said.