You look at the first race and can’t see anything you fancy. Two of the big yards have unraced horses with chances – Paul Nicholls and Nicky Henderson. You wouldn’t dream of betting in this race at home, but as you’re here you may as well have a bit of fun. You decide to see what’s happening with the prices – they are both a tentative 3/1 on the Racing Post tissue. Opening show has the Henderson horse at 5/2 and Nicholls' at 4/1. You lean towards Nicholls. After all, you’ve just seen him tucking into an ice cream in the pre parade ring. Besides the punters don’t give Henderson's a chance and it drifts out to 7/2 at the off. You’re happy you got the ‘value’ (a tenner at 4/1) on the well-backed Nicholls horse, which goes off at 11/4.
The Henderson horse wins. The Nicholls horse drops out of contention three from home. Your placepot choice falls at the last when hanging onto third. You have a drink. Henderson's got the favourite in the next. It’s won it’s last two races, looks to be improving and nothing else looks likely. 2/1 will have to do. You’ll at least get your money back.
You go outside and it seems everyone wants the Henderson horse. The bookies are being cautious – you see 7/4 a few boards back and try to get there, but a bloke in front of you gets £700 to £400, and the bookie rubs the price off. Most boards are now going 6/4. Suddenly you see 13/8, you run and grab an extra note from your pocket to make the most of it. It’s a score. You find yourself giving the bookie both notes. Your tenner fun bet is now a £30 win bet. Still, phew, you’re on.
It seems like the whole crowd is on your horse. Two out, it hits the front and the crowd starts cheering. Fantastic. From the corner of your eye you see another horse travelling ominously well a couple of lengths behind. They jump the final flight alongsides and the jockeys settle down to fight it out. Your horse must win under the Geraghty drive, but as they stretch away to the line you can see that he other horse is going to win – the cheers die in the crowd’s throat. Your mate’s girlfriend next to you starts cheering. Her horse – let's call it Pretty Iris - has won at 20/1. “I liked the name” she says. You smile, but you’re cross with yourself. And then you look down and see that it was trained by Nicholls, his second string ridden by the stable apprentice. Just brilliant.
The girlfriend gets her £40 winnings from the Tote and buys you all a drink. She’s delighted. It’s the first time she’s been racing and it all seems so simple. You smile. You’re a bit late leaving the bar, and the prices are up for the next. So much for that 4/1. More like 3/1. You groan. You wait to see if it will go to 7/2. You re-look at the form. There’s another nice-priced Nicholls horse, this time at 8/1. You look up and see 10/1 at the board next to you. You immediately ask for twenty quid at 10/1. Once you’ve got your ticket you realise the ‘value’ on the Henderson horse has gone – it’s now 11/4 at best. You go inside and do a fiver combination exacta on the two runners. No a tenner. After all, you meant to have a good bet on this race.
You go back to the standing area where you and your friends meet between each race. They ask you what price you got. You smile enigmatically and don’t say anything. The girl says she’s had a fiver on Barney Geraghty. Oh how your friends laugh. And so does she, when Barry goes six lengths clear at the last to win to tumultuous cheers. The Nicholls horse fell four out when struggling.
You excuse yourself and go the toilet. You go to a cubicle, wondering whether you really are going to pretend to your mates that you had backed the Henderson horse. You count how much money you have left from your hundred. What with a race programme, lunch and a placepot, plus £80 in bets, you have £2.15 left. And it’s your round.