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.