29 October 2011

A Day At The Races

Now I’m not a great fan of being at the races but I do like the spectacle of a horse coming from the back of the field and working its way through the crowd and pushing its nose over the line in first place. Years ago, I even had the luxury of a box at Kempton once or twice but preferred to have a glass of champers in the confines of the hospitality area and watch the race on the telly, so when I was invited to a day at the races, I was none too keen.

But I was relieved, this was not an invitation to the circular track at Cagnes where the horses trot rather than run and the last horse is served up the next day as the Plat du Jour, this was my friend Gerry inviting me to his house in the village to watch Channel 4 racing but with a twist – we’d bet on the outcome of each race.

We met in the Bar des Sport for a nice lunch beforehand and then it was a quick walk to his house just off the village square - only about 100 yards.

Gerry is an ‘old’ amateur jockey and every Saturday he is to be found in a corner of either the Bar des Sports or the Midi studying the form.

Now being a competitive Scot who cheats at tiddlywinks, the thought of betting and probably losing against an ‘old’ jockey who no doubt had an inside track (pun intended) on who was going to win each race did not fill me with whatever you're supposed to be filled with when you know you'll just be opening your wallet and pouring money out!   

Whatever, after lunch we sat in his lounge with a glass of rosé and just as I was admiring the amazing views, the architecture and the quails eggs Leslie put out for nibbles, Gerry announced it was time for the first race – and a euro was demanded.
Racing with a View

Now, I have to say that at 6am that morning I was studying the form (am I competitive or what?), looking up the Racing Post on the internet to see what was due to win and what the odds were but when it came time to choose my runner, I reverted to type and chose the nicest silks worn by the jockeys combined with the name of the horse, unless ……… there was a grey horse running in which case, that was my choice.

To cut a long, sad story short, there were eight races shown on telly and despite the advantage of having my iPad tell me which horses were destined for the dog food factory after running, I still did not manage to pick a single winner. Indeed, the winner of the combined bet, three euros unless there was a rollover, wasn’t necessarily the winner, just the horse which managed it into the top three – and I didn’t manage a single one. Indeed, by the end of the afternoon, I was sick of the TV commentator mentioning my horses in terms of, ‘pulled up’, ‘oh – there’s a faller’ and ‘that horse shouldn’t be in this field’. Was I depressed?

Being a ‘numbers man’ by trade or a statistician as most folk would call it, I couldn’t work it out – there were three of us betting and by the law of averages, I should have won at least two races, sorry two pots, but I didn’t – Gerry and Leslie cleaned me out!

Needless to say, they are not being invited to my place on a reciprocal visit. I am such a bad loser. But their house is gorgeous and has amazing views.

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