After nine days away, it feels very good to be back in the saddle once more: refreshed, energized and with plenty of ideas to take all things geegeez to the next level. So how was the trip?
Well, cast your mind back to a dim and distant time - a week ago last Friday to be precise. It was the second half of Glorious Goodwood or, as it has become known to me this year, Tortuous Goodwood. It happens quite often over jumps for some reason - especially at the Cheltenham Festival - but very rarely on the flat. In fact, this is the first time I can remember having such a woodwork-rattling week at a flat racing festival.
Quite simply, everything I backed to win finished second or third; everything I backed each way finished fourth or fifth (depending on the number of available places, of course). Although many such examples had already manifested themselves, the week was typified for me by my two bets on the Friday. I had a very decent bet on the well drawn Fire Ship in the Betfred Mile, each way, at 16/1.
She led until half a furlong from home, and was passed very late by TWO horses to finish... you know it, fifth.
No matter, for my bet of the week was upcoming. Winning Express had standout form to win the Oak Tree Stakes, and was well drawn to do likewise. I'd taken 5/2 for plenty early, and the 2/1 favourite had all of her main market rivals thoroughly cooked. Alas, she didn't bargain on Jonny Portman's pride and joy, Annecdote, spoiling the party. And nor, naturally, did I. The Racing Post comment for Annecdote of "quickened to lead last 75 yards" summed my week up and, if you followed me in, your week too no doubt.
At times like these, when results can be really hard to take, it pays to be philosophical: don't be tinkering with your selection method, because clearly a lot is being done right. Irritatingly, payouts are elusive, but to come that close that many times is a symptom of randomness and the yang in the good punters' qi (with apologies for the butchered Chinese philosophy). Surely, it's far worse when the wallpaper has dart marks in it, so wide of the target have your wagering arrows been.
I didn't play on Saturday, and of course, my Wokingham horse, Rex Imperator, won the Stewards' Cup. In truth, I had retired hurt by then and enjoyed a week off the punting. That week began on Friday, as we commenced a long car journey with a ten month old baby to Western France. Sensibly, we'd opted to stop half-way both there and back, and even more sensibly (for me), I'd decided to surprise Mrs Matt with a nice hotel bed rather than the Novotel in which she thought we were staying. (Of course, there's nothing wrong with Novotel, but it can be a bit, well, Alan Partridge...)
That got me in her good books, to the point where she'd almost forgiven an afternoon of listening to me eff and blind, cuss and swear, at those two close-but-no-banana wagers which defined my week.
Saturday morning involved the further drive from Chateau de Behen (recommended, and reasonable, for what it is) to Concourson-sur-Layon, a no name village in the Loire valley. There we'd spend a week in the company of nine other adults, many of them school friends from thirty years ago, and eleven (!) other children. It was not as noisy as it sounds, and there was (too much) food, (too much) wine, and (too much) sleep.
It's been a long time since I've slept as much as last week - probably my student days! - and my battery is well and truly charged. If only all batteries had such life in them... You see, on the way west at the start of the week, we'd been caught in heavy traffic around the town of Rouen, something of a bottleneck for all routes in that part of France. So, on the homeward leg, I decided we should bypass Rouen by skirting around the west and north of it. The last part of that detour involved a short piece of motorway and a peage (French toll gate). In time terms, that was 25 minutes of motorway and EIGHTY MINUTES of queuing for the peage.
There was a parallel non-toll road that might have taken 35 minutes of driving, but with no toll and no queue. Mon dieu!
Adding insult to injury was the fact that, unbeknownst to us, the car battery had been running down nicely during that line time (though my phone was nicely charged, form the cigarette lighter USB thingie!). The upshot was that we broke down just as we drove in to refuel at a motorway service station. Dead battery.
A difficult conversation in badly fractured French, a tow truck and 310 euros later, and we were back on the move. Gulp. There were the obligatory delays at the Eurotunnel, of course, but we had a smooth run England-side, and were ultimately very glad to be home. A good break, yes, but driving with a baby in France - a very big country as it turns out (who knew?!) - was not the wisest of moves.
Now then, if you're wondering why there hasn't been an update on the tipping league for July, it's because we've experienced a bit of an issue... In a plot that could have been stolen straight from a Ruth Rendell mystery, it was the case that a number of players had performed strikingly well. Indeed, almost too well. Yes, dear friends, we had cheats in our midst.
I make a joke of it but I was actually thoroughly p155ed off that people would abuse a small loophole (now closed) in the quest for a £100 free bet. Sure, that's a very nice prize, and backing a winner with it would be extremely pleasing. But to cheat in a free 'bit of fun' competition? I'm half tempted to name and shame those who did it, such is my irritation. But I won't. Suffice to say they've been banned, and the prizes will be handed down to those who finished lower, but actually picked the race winners before the results were known...
Step forward, kendot, ynwajim, and clickclark! Congratulations to all three of you: you'll be receiving free bets to the tune of £100, £60 and £40 respectively, and I'll be in touch later to sort.
The August competition - mercifully free of such chronological shenanigans - is underway, and you have the best part of three weeks to catch up if you've not been playing or have started with less than a flourish.
You can enter here: http://www.geegeez.co.uk/tipping-league/
And that's it for today's shortish post. Just time to tell you that the placepot picks will return this afternoon - probably online around midday - and if you're following @geegeez_uk on twitter, you'll be the first to hear about it when they're posted. You'll actually be the first to hear about all new content on geegeez, which is advertised to that twitter account within minutes of being published.
It's great to be back, and over the next couple of weeks, I hope to be able to add a whole range of fancy new toys for you to play with on the site. Let me put it like this: I currently use four or five different sources to do my form study (most of them premium services), and in the not too distant future, I'll be able to use one, for free - geegeez. And so will you... 🙂