Day three and it's Ladies Day tomorrow at Royal Ascot. Key stats to follow, dear reader, but first let me talk you through a tale of near misses, boo hisses and air kisses, as I recount my day two wagers...
My Timeform and trends papers all over the floor, I was confident of bagging the placepot and a few tasty winners to boot.
I made the opening Jersey Stakes the second hardest race of the day (after the Royal Hunt Cup), and so it proved. My placepot relied on the racecard combo of 6,7,8 and, sure enough, the best I could manage was 4th, beaten a head, with Gallagher. Â£129.60 lighter already, and it was onwards and downwards...
I'm not sure whether it was a consolation or further kick in the posterior, but I'd back the winner for pennies as an interest wager:
Not quite find a penny, lose a pound, but something along those lines.
Oh well, I had a decent fancy in the next race, so I consoled myself with the knowledge that I'd got it pretty much spot on, and just didn't get paid out.
In the Windsor Forest I fancied Heaven Sent, and I thought Chantilly Tiffany was a decent place wager as well. So I backed them thus:
Heaven Sent looked for all the world like the winner, only to be re-challenged by front-running connections mate, Spacious. Anywhere else in the world, and I'd have been paid out, as they'd have been coupled. But not here!
Chantilly Tiffany ran a cracker, and finished fourth, which is where all good place or each way wagers finish...
At this point, I was feeling really rather sorry for myself, so I re-entered the Tote arena via the quadpot AND pulled on my bottes de combat (betting boots) for the Gallic raiders in the troisieme (3rd) race.
I made it a two horse battle, and was happy to overlook Tartan Bearer. Sir Michael Stoute's horses had a woeful record in the race, and the point was well made in the Racing Post today that he winds them up for bigger pots later in the season.
Allez, Allez! A fine ride from Olivier Peslier, who looked the first beaten, but timed it to perfection to run down Twice Over, with Tartan Bearer just hanging in for second from the late running Never On Sunday.
Back in front (except for a significant wager a bit later on... which we'll get to momentarily), and it was time for the cavalry charge of the Royal Hunt Cup.
Just the 28 of them to post, with three non-runners, and I didn't have a strong fancy, so I didn't bet much. A tenner each way on Cadre, who was a pretty big price on Betfair, and a place wager on ultra-consistent (but perennial place horse) Mias Boy. I knew Gavin had this as his second best handicap punt of the week - the best is tomorrow - and it was hard to see him far away.
The 4/1 favourite, Forgotten Voice, was having his first run in a turf race and sluiced up. He is clearly a Group animal masquerading as a handicapper, and I'm preying the Breeders Cup is on the agenda for him. His versatility will give him lots of options, and his inexperience will be lessened between now and then.
Place money again for Mias Boy, as he ran into a noble yet distant third, behind a runaway winner. Cadre was a big price on Betfair for a reason, and was unsighted.
Then came my bet of the day. I was mightily impressed by Don't Tell Mary in the Listed race at Beverley earlier in the year, and I felt that a fast run race - as this was bound to be with US speed machine Jealous Again in the field - would be right up her street.
She'd won by four lengths both starts, and had only been hand-ridden for that. I went in early expecting the price to truncate. My judgement of the market is usually a bit off, and this was no exception. It's always infuriating for me, but there we are. I'd also set up an in running lay in the hope that if she did show as I expected, but then got collared, I could cover my stakes at least.
This would give me a nice win (Â£550) if she prevailed, a small profit (Â£70) if she was matched in running but didn't win, and a hefty loss (Â£229.75) if she was beaten!
Well, long and short of it was that she was trounced - as were all the others (though not quite so far as Mary) - by Wesley Ward's second juvenile winner of the week, Jealous Again.
She (Jealous Again, not the misfiring Mary) bounced out and cruised in front a la Canford Cliffs yesterday, and she kicked on again a la Canford Cliffs yesterday, to win by five lengths over five furlongs compared with Canford's six lengths win over six furlongs. The time comparison is interesting:
Canford Cliffs: 1 minute 13.64 seconds (12.27 seconds per furlong)
Jealous Again: 1 minute 0.53 seconds (12.11 seconds per furlong)
Add in Scenic Blast in the Kings Stand...
Scenic Blast: 59.54 seconds (11.91 seconds per furlong)
And the Windsor Castle...
Strike The Tiger: 1 minute 1.28 seconds (12.26 seconds per furlong)
And you can really see the merit of the filly's performance. I don't know where next, but she will be unstoppable on turf over 5f Stateside, I'd imagine.
My measly compensation was that I had Misheer in the quadpot, so was still going on that front. Hoorah. Ahem. Â£2 lines rolling on to Moneycantbuymelove, Good Again and Photgraphic. (And, of course, as I used the same horses as the placepot, that fourth placing and omission of Ouqba in the opener was getting more and more irritating!)
The last race of the day was the Sandringham Handicap - a Listed handicap at that. 21 runners but I didn't think it was that competitive. I was happy with my three in the quad/place pot, and had picked out Gerard Butler and Eddie Ahern (Good Again) as my punt in the race.
Moneycantbuymelove came to mug the Queen's horse, Golden Stream, in the final furlong to take the spoils and land a paltry pot (quad not place) that didn't even return my stakes alas. Good Again traveled like the winner but found disappointingly little when let down, to finish 6th. Indeed, let down was the feeling I finished the day with.
The placepot paid Â£183.80, and the quadpot a staggering Â£21.90. Remind me to wipe my mouth the next time I suffer an early placepot bath (and excuse my mealy-mouthed mixed metaphors!).
Bloodied but unbowed, I thank one Gallic victor, and look forward to tomorrow - day three - of this quintet of punting soap operas.
To tomorrow's key stats. By now you probably know the drill, so here we go:
2.30 Norfolk Stakes: A race for juvenile speedy Gonazales', run over 5f. Just eleven to post, and we can get shot of four by observing that each of the last 13 winners had won last time out. Diamond Johnny G, Reignier, Running Mate and Star Rover have not so we've just the seven to conjure with.
3.05 Ribblesdale Stakes: Ten thorougly unexposed 3yo fillies will race over 1m4f. Although recent winners have been a mixed bag, the last thirteen all shared one thing in common: they finished in the first two last time or they ran in the Oaks. We can scribble out five, meaning we're left with five.
3.45 Ascot Gold Cup: The feature on Ladies' Day, and one of the key staying races in the year. Yeats bids for an unprecedented four timer in the race, which would be phenomenal. And his closest pursuer for the last two years, the able but recalcitrant monkey Geordieland, takes him on again. Whether or not time has caught up with Yeats remains to be seen.
Any road, here is a stat to assist in paring down the nine who contest the race: 11 of the last 12 winners were 4-6 year olds.
Whilst this only takes out two, they are... Yeats and Geordieland!
4.20 Britannia Handicap: A mile handicap with 30 runners. Oh joy. Time to retire to the bar methinks... but that's no use to you. So, a stat to carve that large mob down to a smaller infraction, is six of the last seven winners were officially rated 90 or higher. 13 are not tomorrow, so you may want to scrub them out.
4.55 Hampton Court Stakes: 13 3yo's over a mile and a quarter for this Listed race. 7 of the last 9 winners finished in the first three last time out. Over half (7 of the 13) didn't so they may be worthy of overlooking.
5.30 King George V Handicap: With 19 runners over a mile and a half, this race marks the conclusion of a really tough bookie vs punter battle tomorrow. All of the last 12 winners finished in the first three last time out. Scratch nine, leaves ten.
By the way, these stats emanate from the excellent Festival Trends guide, your own daily copy of which you can secure here, should you so wish.
By the time I post tomorrow, it's likely that the first race will have been run at Britain's newest race course, a dual purpose track in Carmarthenshire, West Wales. With apologies to those readers fluent in the traditional tongue of Cwmru (I really hope I've spelt that right), you might be forgiven for thinking that Ffos Las was some sort of anagram (ffoalss?), but we'll soon all know how to spell it, as the track will host both flat and jumps racing.
I have two predictions for this track:
1. It will stay open longer than Great Leighs
2. There will be many an Irish gamble landed, with its proximity to the ferry ports.
The best of luck to Ffos Las - I'm sure they'll do very well - and if you're going there tomorrow night, do leave a comment to let us all know what you made of it. I'm going to try to get down there before the end of the Summer.
That's all for today.