Is it really Monday already, dear reader? It seems like only yesterday I was away at the races, enjoying the splendid sunshine, banter and sport on the Sussex Downs. And I was blissfully unaware of the nasty goings-on across a number of my websites.
But let's start with a look back at last week's most glorious of Glorious Goodwoods. OK, so the weather was pants for the most part (me and my mob - and those of you who emailed to tell me you were also going - got lucky with a rare sunshine break on Friday). But the action on the track was brilliant.
Tuesday's racing saw my placepot get five out of six (not for the last time - it is the malaise of the placepot hunter punter...). It also saw a vastly improved display from Harbinger, who looks a decent enough wager at 4/1 for the St Leger. It may not have been the strongest Gordon Stakes ever, and the form animal, Masterofthehorse, clearly didn't run to his level. Nevertheless, the second is a reliable and improving horse, and he was well beaten off.
Expect significant further improvement from Sir Michael's Harbinger.
Wednesday's feature was the Sussex Stakes, and my sweetness for Paco Boy was to cost me. He was ridden far off the pace, and never got to impressive and - arguably - deserving winner, Rip Van Winkle. In fairness to Richard Hughes (through gritted teeth), he wouldn't have beaten the winner anyway, and getting closer but still finishing second would have yielded no more of a return from the smiling betfair punter(s) who accepted my wager.
It was a great race and, in my opinion, Ghanaati probably produced her best track performance in finishing third to the boys and her elders (although the numbers at the Racing Post don't necessarily support that).
I did cop the placepot, but of course, managed to strike a jackpot wager by mistake. Foolish and expensive and frustrating.
Thursday's action was headlined by another brilliant effort from Kingsgate Native. He's a bit of a binary performer (i.e. his form is made up of o's and 1's) but on a going day, he's hard to catch. The first three home were drawn 1, 2, 3 so Borderlescott's short head fourth from box 16 was probably the best run of the race. Naturally, it did for my 'pot wager. And naturally, I had the other five legs up.
Schiaparelli got me some cash back from Paco Boy's losses. Frankie had to kid him home, and I'd not want to take short odds on him in a more competitive race. That said, he was way too good for these, and clearly has a bundle of talent.
Friday saw the sun roast the punters for the first time, and I actually got a bit of a tan. I went long on Drumfire in the first (4th) but it was the course specialist, Illustrious Blue, who won handsomely. He's now a ridiculous 6 wins and 3 places from 13 starts here. I snuck through the placepot with 3rd, Halicarnassus, who also goes well here.
In the second race, I'd had a few quid on Julia's Spirit of Sharjah. He ran well from a middle draw and, with hindsight, the jockey might have done better taking him to the far side. No matter for it was small stakes in what I felt was too hard a race for me. Northern Dare carried me to the third leg of the placepot.
And there we were. The totesport Mile and it's infallibly strong draw bias. You must be drawn high we said, and my wagers and placepot reflected this exactly. Infuriatingly, I passed over Spectait on age grounds, and I went out of the six leg bet. Again. The first six home were drawn 8, 16, 3, 12 4, 6 to make monkeys of many sounder judges than me (and me!).
My fancy, Vitznau, ran a shocker and beat one home.
Down and out I may have been and funds were getting tight. Time for a bit of foolhardy 'smash and grab' punting. Or, in this case, 'stand and deliver' punting. Yes, I steamed into Dick Turpin like he was a 1-6 shot.
Luckily for me, he won like a 1-6 shot. It was a step up in class and, with the paper 2nd favourite a non-runner, he had really only to run to the form of his Salisbury stroll last time (six length winner). He did. And he was impressive. And I got a lot of cash back, much of which I'd lent the books ten minutes previous. Sweet relief. (It would have been a long ride home had Turpin been turned over).
In the fifth race, I back Contract Caterer each way. He managed to hang on for a place. 1/4 the odds the first four, and I'd backed him at 6/1 (against an SP of 9/2). Imagine my chagrin when I looked at my ticket to reveal my bookie was paying one FIFTH the odds the first four. In a 17 runner nursery! I will say this. These idiots will be out of business this time next year. What's the point in trying to steal a few points like that. If you don't want to be a bookie, don't be a bookie. But, please, for the credibility of the industry, don't take the p155 like that.
Sixth race saw my fancy win at 9/1. Alas, it was a very weak fancy in what looked a ferociously difficult ladies' race. Summer Fete did it nicely enough in fairness, and looks a Group 3 filly, whereas many of the others were there to try to steal a spot of black type.
In the last, I went for death or glory - well, I was pretty sozzled by then - and had a much bigger than appropriate punt on La Zamora. She ran no race and I knew my fate early. It might have been worse though as, bizarrely, all my friends had backed MATTamia (or Mattmania as they referred to it). The beast closed all the way to the line, to be beaten just a head at 12/1. Win only all round.
But a cracking day and tolerable losses for such competitive sport.
Saturday was all about the Stewards Cup. My hope, Hamish MacGonigall, didn't run and my other mention Mac Gille Eoin ran a belter in 5th. But Genki did it nicely for Roger Charlton, and the Racing Post who napped it. Well done to both.
It was a pity that the mist rendered the racing something of an anticlimactic spectacle.
Here's hoping you had a few winners, and enjoyed the sport. Next stop York, on the 18th and 19th of this month.
T'internet is a wonderful thing when it all goes to plan. Alas, it's not always as smooth as that. I currently have the following websites all living in the same little box out there somewhere in the ether:
(yes, even though the last three are owned by Gavin at Nag3, they still live on my 'hosting space').
The problem is that I don't own that ether-box. Other people also have sites on there and, if one of those other sites gets a problem, my/our sites get tarred with the same virtual brush.
So far, I've gone through every diagnostic tool I can find to identify a problem and failed. I'm now hoping for some help from the Google techie support team. Failing that, I'll be honest and say I don't know what to do with them!
Fortunately, I recently moved geegeez to another host, which means it seems to be nice and clean. But there's definitely a growth in the number of affected websites, and it's a very bad thing. Why do these poisonous toads have to infect the green leaves of our surfing community?
Now then, Monday's are not really days to be getting seriously involved in racing. So, to continue to placepot theme, I'll share with you my perm for this afternoon's Ripon card. Ripon and placepot will always be synonymous for me, as it was there that I enjoyed one of my best days.
I was a struggling student and pennies were tight. So it was that I struck my 12 line 10p placepot - total stake Â£1.20.
The long and short of it was that Gavin was getting 'tissues' (i.e. early prices) from a man in the know at the time for his betting shop in Poole, Dorset. There was one race, a 2yo maiden, where the tissue highlighted one horse to keep on the right side of. The horse in question (whose name long since escaped me) was a 50/1 shot in the Racing Post and Sporting Life papers, and I knew it would be overlooked by the punting masses.
As it transpired, it finished in the frame at around 12/1 with a couple of complete rags.
The placepot paid over Â£5,000 and my 10p line was worth over Â£500 to me. It was an absolute fortune, and the joy of that win still brings me out in goosebumps now. Sometimes, I hanker back to the innocence of those days. Air was cleaner, life was simpler.
Sorry, I drifted off into a bit of a daydream there. Back to today's Ripon ticket.
2.15 8, 10
2.45 3, 4, 6, 12
3.15 2, 4, 10
3.45 3, 11
4.45 5, 7, 10
Total placepot lines: 2 x 4 x 3 x 2 x 1 x 3 = 144