It was a proper roller-coaster weekend on the betting front, dear reader, with more downs than ups for this scribe. Today Iâ€™ll share my weekend woes with weadersâ€¦ Plus, Iâ€™ve got some exciting news of what I think is my best freebie everâ€¦
Letâ€™s start with the horse-y action just passed. And what a weekend of racing that was!
The highlight on Saturday was unquestionably the Group 1 Lockinge Stakes from Newbury. A mile was the test for the nine participants, headed this year by the brilliant Paco Boy. In opposition was a range of equine talent, from the improving Zacinto through placed and winning horses at Royal Ascot in Lord Shanakill and Ouqba respectively, to hardy campaigners like Pipedreamer (a Group 2 winner on Arc day last year).
Paco Boy was sent off the favourite last year â€“ backed in from 7/4 to 11/8 â€“ having previously won the Sandown Mile in a canter. This term, he used exactly the same prep race and won in equally facile style. Punters, whose memories may be shorter than the average elephant, piled in again on Saturday, as Pacoâ€™s odds contracted from 4/5 to a starting price of 8/11.
In the event, it was a two horse contest which, with hindsight, was a one horse race.
The opening skirmishes saw Stimulation and Price of Dance remind people that theyâ€™d shown up for the race, before Lord Shanakill tookÂ over with a quarter mile to run. Now in the care of â€˜Sirâ€™ Henry Cecil, the good Lord was quickly usurped by two horses coming from opposite sides of the field.
On the near side, Paco Boy, whoâ€™d been sitting as quiet as a very quiet mouse in the naughty corner for talking, and whoâ€™d been told to be quiet. On the far side, the more strenuously ridden Ouqba, who responded very well for Richard Hillsâ€™ encouragement.
Indeed, Ouqba nicked first run and might have caught Richard Hughes, aboard Paco Boy, napping with 150 yards to go. Luckily for Hughesie, when he asked Paco to lengthen, the response was extremely impressive.
Zacinto never got into the race and was eased up last.
If youâ€™ve never seen a Group 1 race won on the bridle before, then this was very nearly the day. In case you missed the race,Â hereâ€™s a video of Paco Boyâ€™s imperious run.
I had backed Ouqba place only, making Paco a certainty, and got a nice 3/1 for my wager. Obviously, after the event I was wishing Iâ€™d done the forecast, but thatâ€™s life.
Something to note about Paco Boy with Royal Ascot in mind: heâ€™s won eleven out of the twelve times heâ€™s raced in a field of ten or less (and was second on the other occasion). Heâ€™s lost each and every one of the six times heâ€™s faced more rivals than that.
If the Queen Anne Stakes has a big field, Iâ€™d be wary of piling into Paco at short odds.
Then it was off to France on Sunday for the Gallic Guineas. And my luck took a plummeting nosedive akin to the vertiginous drop on The Big One at Blackpool Pleasure Beach!
In the ladiesâ€™ version, there were two horses trained by a bloke few have heard of, but whose record in the race includes two recent wins with very similar types.
So I backed both of his, figuring that all horses are pretty unexposed at this level and he knows what the score is when trying to win here.
I was so right, I couldnâ€™t have been more right, with his Liliside winning a rough race by a head, and his Baine finishing a might unlucky third, having almost hit the deck when running into a horse in front of her and then having the second favourite, Joanna, veer across her close home.
But you donâ€™t always get paid for being right. As is often the case abroad, the lights on the results board went on, and a stewardsâ€™ enquiry was called. In fairness, it was a rough race, and Liliside had extricated herself from a pocket with a tactical manoevre that might have been overlooked here (and might not, under the strangely inconsistent rules / stewarding we have in place) but was never going to pass undetected in Paris.
Liliside was booted out, and who should be awarded the race? You guessed it: the self same horse that was awarded the Newmarket 1000 Guineas two short weeks ago. Special Duty has now failed to win in three starts this season and yet finds herself a dual Guineas winner!
It canâ€™t be right and, whilst the decisions of the stewards in one â€“ possibly both â€“ cases were correct, there certainly seems to be a lack of lustre about Special Dutyâ€™s status currently. Hopefully, sheâ€™ll be able to win a prestigious race before the end of the season without assistance from the beaks.
To add further insult to my financial injury, Baine was then promoted to an unlucky 2nd from an unlucky 3rd, meaning I not only backed the disqualified winner, but I also backed the eventual unlucky runner-up, and didnâ€™t get paid on either!
In the chapsâ€™ version, I sided with the Newmarket form and had a reasonable bet on the highwayman, Dick Turpin, to stand and deliver. I also followed up by idiot bet on Buzzword at Newmarket, with an idiot bet on Buzzword hereâ€¦
As it transpired, dandy Dick T ran a bobby dazzler again, and again had to settle for silver behind a Frenchie. The pair of them pulled clear in another rough looking race, but there was no fluke about the winnerâ€™s performance.
Lope de Vega was drawn 15, which is widely considered to be an impossible draw at this track / trip. Scrimmaging inside of him certainly would have aided his cause, but he still had a mountain to climb from the â€˜car parkâ€™.
He was given a fine ride and quickened away nicely.
Interestingly, the third home was an unconsidered Czech horse called Shamalgan. By English Guineas winner Footstepsinthesand, out of Unfuwain mare, this looked a solid performance, and he might be a dark one to look out for perhaps at Royal Ascot in a few weeks time.
Buzzword was 4th at 46/1 and might win a good race yet.
Just time to tell you that tomorrow, Iâ€™ll be releasing what I think is probably my finest freebie ever. Of course, Iâ€™ll let you collectively be the judge, but suffice it to say that if you thought a system that had found a 66/1 winner (Handicap Chase Outsiders) was good, this one trumps it!
Iâ€™ll say no more now, but look out for an email tomorrow telling you from where to download the goodness.
Bye for now,