Grrr, dear reader, grrrrr, and a bit more grrrrrr!
My frustration is reaching new levels over the last couple of days as things just seem to be nearly happening but not quite.
It's been a really infuriating week of near misses, and none more so than yesterday's 'close but no banana' for Always De One, the geegee that runs in the colours of Geegeez.
She was entered in a moderate yet competitive handicap over a mile and quarter of Lingfield's track. Against her were various perennially placed horses, and a lack of experience at the track.
As it happened, she looked fantastic, having found her appetite at Julia's yard now, and scoffed her way through multiple courses of the cordon bleu fare offered to the residents of Chez Feilden. She's put on a fair few kilos and looked more like Denman than an all weather handicapper!
In fact, judge for yourself. Here's a picture that David, one of the co-owners, took yesterday:
She looked the pick of the paddock to my admittedly blinkered eye, and she went down to post with perfect poise. This was all further fuel to my latterly frustrated fire, as I had a great feeling about her chance yesterday.
For someone who is so 'numbers' focused, I appreciate how odd that might sound. But I did...
The sun was shining, Always looked fantastic, I'd had a good lunch with Julia and Amy Weaver, a trainer friend of Julia's, and I'd been through the form. Sure, there were dangers aplenty. But our horse had improvement, and had 'tightened up' (become more muscular, and filled out her frame).
In the late betting exchanges, paddock watchers clearly agreed, as her opening show of 13/2 was snipped to 6/1. Then to 11/2, and again to 5/1, then 9/2, before returning 4/1.
She looked the part, and the betting confirmed that she was expected to run a big race.
As they left the starting gate, Jimmy Quinn, our battle-hardened form judge and all weather pilot extraordinaire, just got squeezed up for a stride and had to ride Always for a furlong and a half to get a good position.
The position he got was plum. About three lengths off the quick gallop, and one horse off the rail. Ideal. Always traveled beautifully down the back, and looked to be in ominous form going into the home turn. I wonder what price she traded in running...
As they turned in, there were many chances - as there habitually are in big field races at Lingfield - and Always De One fended off most runners from behind.
Most. But not all. The bottom weight, Captain Cool, snuck up the rail and scooted after the game front runner Mnarani, and it looked between those two, with Always back in third.
Then, from nowhere, another horse came flying down the outside. An aghast glance at the race card informed that this was the 100/1 outsider, Usquaebach. This horse, who'd run eight times previously over five or six furlongs, and managed two remote bronze medals for those travails, now had a full half mile further to go.
And she relished it. She went the longest way round, having been last off a sound pace early, and she won going away in the style of a nice performer (for the grade).
Always plugged on for fourth, meaning I - and presumably many of you - didn't get paid out on the place part of my (our) each-way wager.
She ran her race for sure and, as Jimmy remarked in typically frank fashion afterwards, she lengthened as the others quickened... Meaning she stayed on fine, but doesn't have a gear at the end of the race.
Always De One Pace may be her new, slightly harsh, racing name!
Actually, when I got home, I sat down and watched the race again, and took a wider perspective on things. There were many positives to take from this:
1. It was just her second run for us, and she had plenty of established all weather performers behind her
2. Jimmy gave her a fine ride, and clearly knows what she needs
3. The race was a full 3.5 seconds quicker than the seller over the same course and distance. That equates to eighteen lengths.
4. We were beaten four lengths at the finish, meaning - in crazy collateral form theory at least - we'd have won the seller by fourteen lengths!
5. She'll stay a mile and half
6. She'll win a race, one of these days, and she's likely to be competitive - if frustrating - in this grade.
So, when you think about it, it's mostly very good news. I think I'm suffering from going racing too many times in a short period as an invested owner, and am talking through the singed digits of one too many 'daddy's little boy / girl' misplaced wagers.
Incidentally, Usquaebach is the name of a Scottish malt, which might have been the resort of those like Kieran, another co-owner in attendance yesterday, who'd not only backed Always De One each way (naturally enough), but also had a wager on neck second, Captain Cool.
Perhaps my luck is not so bad after all...
Lastly, a quick update on Betfair Conspiracy. More frustration here, as one of the two selections was a faller when still well in contention. Bugger.
Today's races for me are Folkestone 2.40, and Kempton 6.15.