Just time for a Cheltenham story (and not one about that chiselling little crook Rich Ricci this time, though I see he’s up to his old tricks).
I went Wednesday and had a lovely day, not least watching my favourite Tiger Roll win the Cross Country. I was standing in the middle of the course at the time and was so excited I managed to fall at the Cheese Wedges the second time around. Anyway, that is not my story. This is.
Thursday. I have not been having a great week, but nothing desperate. Frodon has just won under Bryony to lusty cheers and my only regret is being much under-staked on it. The Mares’ novices’ hurdle looks humdrum. My best mate is with me for the week and I remember on Tuesday saying to him I could see all the front three in the Champion Hurdle being beaten, but failing to do the forecasts to take advantage. Now, looking at this race, my synapses crack and fizzle into life, remembering similar missed opportunities, layered up like a generation of calcified failure. For the drums are now beating like a folk memory. Because this is historically Willie Mullins’ race and he has a load of runners and the shortest in the betting is about 10/1.
A plan forms. I do combination exactas on all seven of his runners. Small stakes, but nice. All the more so when two horses I’ve never heard of fight out the finish, the winner at 50/1 and the second at 66/1. I punch the air. Boom. The exacta pays £3k and bunce and I have most of it. Cheltenham, it is my realm. I am a creative betting artisan in a world of humdrum win-only midgets. I doth bestride Cleeve Hill like an exacta colossus.
One slight problem. Turns out I can’t count. Mullins had eight horses in the race. And them gambling Gods, them was looking…