Yesterday, dear reader, goes down in the annals as one of my worst day's betting ever. It was coming, in fairness, but still I'm smarting from the numerous bruises incurred.
It all started when my beloved Laying System, which has been performing to stellar levels this month, had it's long anticipated 'correction', or losing run. And how!
Having been over 49points up on the month, yesterday saw 21.5 of those points evaporate in several puffs of smoke and, more specifically, clicks of my mouse.
It helps at times like these to see the perspective: the service remains 27 points up in April, and over 65 points up overall (since November last year). So, not disastrous, but still pretty painful.
This was followed by Go Native's abysmal show. Having felt that he was a good thing to be in the first two (either in front of or just behind Hurricane Fly), I backed him accordingly. Fourth can only be described as disappointing.
It should be said that the gallop was pedestrian (the subsequent handicap hurdle was run faster) and this certainly would not have helped the Native, who cruised off the usual breakneck pace when winning at Cheltenham. However, it would have been against the Fly too, and he positively cantered to the lead and quickened readily away.
I was extremely taken with the winner and, whilst I certainly won't be troubling any of those generous bookie types offering 5/1 about him winning next year's Champion Hurdle (I'd want that price on him getting there in one piece!), he looks the one to beat in the hurdling Blue Riband come next March.
Next up in my day of punting woes was Master Minded vs. Big Zeb. Now it's true that I wasn't into Big Zeb for Big Money, but nevertheless the nature of his defeat hurt. He had rallied against a clearly toiling Master Minded, and came to win the race at the last. As is his style though, Zeb decided that the quickest route between two points is a straight line, and proceeded to amble directly through the last obstacle rather than over it.
That he didn't fall was a miracle in itself. That he rallied to be beaten just a head was insult to injury. With a fluent jump at the last Zeb would unquestionably have won.
This proves to me two things:
1. Zeb needs to go to Yogi Breisner or Harvey Smith, or someone who can show him how to jump a fecking fence
2. Master Minded patently does not want it soft.
Onwards and downwards we go, for in the last I was confident that Cooldine would win the Novices Grade 1 Chase. Alas, the odds on favourite was never really travelling, and again its possible that the slow gallop did for him. No matter what did for him, it did for more of my money too (I was chasing at this point).
Those six asterisks mark the line I've drawn under yesterday. To today, and more Punchy action. Also Ascot.
The feature at Ascot is the Group 3 Sagaro Stakes, run over 2 miles. There's six going to post, and it promises to be a bit of a lollop for the first mile and six furlongs. Patkai is the odds on favourite, but is a four year old. A 4yo was beaten at 11/8 in the race in 2007, another 4yo favourite was beaten in 2005 at 9/4, and another 4yo fav was rolled in 2003 at 11/4.
It seems that the merit of 4yo's chances in this race is somewhat overrated, and it may also be that their strength may not match that of older horses at this early stage of the season. Somewhat contrary to that is the fact that French 4yo Risk Seeker did win the race a few years ago.
All of which means I don't know who will win, but I'm going to be against Patkai at 8/13.
Back to Punchestown for day two of the great end of season boozefest. Today's feature race is the Guinness Gold Cup at 6.05.
Twelve runners go to post, and they've 25 furlongs to travel before the lollypop will greet them, weary and victorious / vanquished.
Age seems to be the biggest factor in this race, with 15 of the last 18 winners being 6-8 years old, and the last five all being 8 or younger. This alone eliminates seven of the dozen starters, leaving us with 'just' Air Force One, Albertas Run, Imperial Commander, Notre Pere and Scotsirish.
The Cheltenham Gold Cup is the strongest form race, with six of the last seven winners having contested that heat. This leaves us with just two: Air Force One and Albertas Run.
I'll split my stake on the pair of them, at 14/1 and 11/1 respectively. A note from the early betting is the strength of Notre Pere, who has been backed with pretty much every firm.
Earlier on the card, a potential superstar is unleashed again. Dunguib is the name of this bumper horse, who absolutely 'mullered' the field at Cheltenham in the Champion Bumper there. There's some very good and unexposed animals in this race, and I won't be pulling on my odds-on boots again, but I sorely hope he wins, as he looks the real deal.
Best of luck whatever you're on today.