Unmitigated disaster, dear reader, is the best definition I can find for yesterday. Not only did I do my poke on Paco Boy. Not only did I lay a winner at a big price. Not only did my losing lays not get matched due to the buffoons at Redcar wrecking everyone's afternoon by delaying racing by 20 minutes for no reason relating to racing at Redcar (just ridiculous - the powers that be really ought to sort this once and for all).
No. The worst part was that my one redeeming wager, my shaft of payout light in a cave of dank black losing punts, was a Â£2 line of the Â£87.60 placepot at Goodwood.
Except it wasn't.
Because that fantastic interface in Betfair to place tote bets, coupled with my own ineptitude, led me to strike a Â£108 JACKpot perm instead of a PLACEpot. That is the default setting. Idiot boy here didn't see it, and therefore didn't change it. I know I'm not alone in making this mistake, and I know that Betfair know that they get bigger commissions for wagers in the jackpot pool. Scumbags. Them and me!
Basta! (as they say in Italy). Enough! (as they say here in UK).
Let's draw a big long line under yesterday, wipe our collective mouth, and move forwards, safe in the knowledge that we can at least claim the intellectual high ground for having been either right, or nearly right, throughout all of yesterday's litany of reverses.
Today sees the Coutts Goodwood Cup feature and, naturally enough, it's surrounded by minefields fore and aft. Let's see what we can learn...
I believe the going is on the quick side of good, with most of the rain missing the Downs (doubtless that's booked in for tomorrow, when I'm due to attend!).
Seventeen declared for this handicap. One non-runner to date. Expect one more before racing to ensure that there's just the three each way / placepot places up for grabs...
No winner has paid more than 9/1 in the last decade, so I should probably be looking to the top end of the market. Allied to that is the fact that the big stables have held a monopoly on the race. Two wins for Johnston and two for Gosden may be material too.
It's also worth noting that eight of the last ten winners carried 8-12 or less.
It's a really tight knit handicap, and the one I like is Alpen Glen. She was disappointing when sent off jolly last time, having won her first two starts with ease. Her trainer wouldn't be running her here if he didn't think she could show her best, and - as he's definitely a man to follow at the track / meeting / this race - she's got to be in the 'pot.
I'm going to stay towards the bottom of the handicap and add another Johnston runner, Takaatuf. He's been running in some hot races this season and, whilst this isn't much easier, I fancy him to give his running.
Looking back to the top of the market and the handicap, Mirrored may go well too.
Finally, I'm going to add 'Sir' Henry's Hyades to round out my quartet.
Selection: Alpen Glen
Placepot: 4, 10, 11, 16
Aah, a nice little 18 runner 5f sprint to get us moving on. It's a Group 3 as well, so park any notions of getting paid on 4th place. Just three spots for the 'pots, which could be a good thing (depending on whether your best placed selection beats all bar three home...)
In fairness, this is a very warm race, with loads of top drawer Group form in evidence. Given the oddities of the racing strip here, course form may be material, and those that have won here should be high on the shortlist.
Borderlescott has won over 6f here, and Moorhouse Lad won this race in 2007 and ran well last year. Rowe Park's win here was in a handicap and he doesn't look good enough to my eye.
Again, fancied horses have lorded it in recent years, with all of the last ten winners starting at 10/1 or shorter. And 3yo's have only a mediocre record (two in last decade, none since 2002).
Fat Boy may have needed the run on debut, and is respected. Ialysos is a binary sort (1's and 0's comprise his form figures).
All of this quartet are drawn high (12,14,15,16) and I'm going with them against the field.
Selection: Moorhouse Lad
Placepot: 1, 2, 5, 9
Next up is the Cup. In my preview, I went with Schiaparelli, and I'm sweeter on him today than I was then. He will be my banker, and I will disappointed should he fail to win, let alone place.
Selection: Schiaparelli (nap)
Danger: Askar Tau
A Group 3 for the ladies, and its run over another long distance: this time, 1m6f.
This looks a pretty trappy affair to me, and not one to pull the punting boots on for. The favourite, Suailce, has traveled across from Ireland to represent Dermot Weld, and he doesn't normally go globetrotting for air miles alone (though he does often go globetrotting). For that reason, she gets respect. But she's never been better than 3rd in Listed company, and 4th in Group 3, so it may not be a surprise if there are a few too good for her here.
But who? I was impressed with the way Princess Taylor kept on when I was at Newmarket recently, and I think Marco Botti has done an excellent job with this tough young lady. Although she's definitely tricky to win with, she's not ungenuine, and I'd love to see her get some more black type here (albeit that I don't think she'll win).
There must be stamina doubts about Cassique Lady, whose best form is over a good bit shorter trips. Starfala should stay, but was beaten 5 1/4 lengths by Barshiba, the same animal who beat Princess Taylor by 3 lengths. If you buy collateral form angles, she can't finish in front of the Princess (unless, of course, you also account significantly for weight).
Victoria Montoya will definitely stay, will love any easing in the ground (we've just had a whopper of a storm here in Hackers, which may have hit Goodwood too), and is on the upgrade. I reckon she'll go pretty close.
And, though a big outsider with a lot to find on the book, I quite like the look of Lady Artemisia. She's the only 3yo in the field, and that age has won three of the six runnings. In a race with so many if's and but's, she'd be a value throwaway wager.
Selection: Victoria Montoya
Danger: Lady Artemisia
Placepot: 4, 8, 9
Three non-runners here already, so we're looking at just the three places. It's seven furlongs so the draw is expected to be important (go high).
Brae Hill has the best draw of the fancied runners, and gets a placepot vote on that alone. But there have been a few long-priced boilovers in this race, and it wouldn't surprise to see another this afternoon. So I'll couple the Brae with some rags.
Arguably best drawn is Akhenaten (that's easy for you to say!), and he's got some pretty decent form - interspersed with some moderate form. If he places, he'll help my pool bet. But I'd not be supporting him with confidence on the nose. Prime Spirit is also well drawn, unexposed and in form.
Kyllachy Star and Shamwari Lodge are the others that look well treated in the race, especially the latter who is four pounds top rated by Timeform.
Selection: Shamwari Lodge
Danger: Brae Hill
Placepot: 4, 6, 8, 9, 11
I've used up pretty much all of my placepot tickets now, with 240 lines already consumed. So here's my tactic. I'm going to go with a single runner in the last and, if I'm still going in the placepot, I'm going to lay her for a place to guarantee a return. Make sense?
That is, if she's in the frame, I get the placepot up. If she's not, I get my stake plus some extra back from laying her for a place.
So which one to side with? Again, it's seven furlongs, so I'm going to use the draw to help me. I'll also use the market, as this means I can lay at a shorter price, should it come to that (though of course, I'm banking on the placepot already paying a nice few quid by the time the fifth leg is over).
Long and short? I'm plumping for Laureldean Spirit, who ran a screamer on debut when just failing to last out in a warm looking York maiden. She may well go one better here, and I doubt if there are three more able fillies in this field, at least at this stage in their careers.
Water Biscuit would have been the other obvious pick.
Selection: Laureldean Spirit
Danger: Water Biscuit
Total placepot lines: 4 x 4 x 1 x 3 x 5 x 1 = 240 lines
I'll be at Goodwood tomorrow - did I mention that? 😉 - so will be posting later today with tomorrow's choices.