Tuesday, March 14, 2006

I Have No Cheltenham Tips For You!

"Any tips for Cheltenham?"...."Who do you fancy, Brave Ince or Hardy Eustace?"..."Will the Flyer do it again, eh?"..."What's the going like?"..."Beef or Salmon? I'm not betting on that nag again! Ok maybe one last time....."

Now don't get me wrong, it's a fantastic week - tremendous fun, terrific excitement, the thrill of thoroughbreds racing neck and neck up the hill in the bracing Cotswolds air, cheering on your chosen steed. And the Irish - sure we love it don't we?! Over in our thousands, drunk on stout, craic and hope.

Thing is, its a bit of a racket isn't it? You realise this as you clutch your betting slip tightly as the Gold Cup gets under way, trying to remember who you actually didn't back because you're not used to this horse business and have heard so many names being whispered that you've suddenly found you've bet on half the field, and then that horse that you didn't bother betting on because you didn't like the name steals up on the inside and wins....and you feel like you've just been conned a bit but ah, sure it's only once a year, well apart from the Grand National anyway...

Its eejits like me and festivals like Cheltenham that put bookmakers in big houses. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not putting the deeds of TSA Manor on the four days of madness that are about to ensue, rather a small investment commensurate with my frugal means. But there's millions more eejits like me with their own small investments that get carried away in the whole hullabaloo and suddenly, despite spending the other 51 weeks of the year aloof from equine matters, begin professing wisdom on all manner of punting variables: the peculiar microclimate around Cheltenham and how it will effect the going, how such and such a horse won pulling up at Leopardstown or how some other beast is a good stayer; front runners, strong finishers, good jumpers, flat speed....

I actually think gambling quite a noble art. The best gamblers ally nerve, tireless research, sound judgement and cold reason. They look for value, and withhold their stake where there is none. They scour prices for anomalies, and then pounce like a carnivore of the African plains on a wounded gazelle. They question the madness of the crowd, are sceptical of accepted opinion and bar-room hearsay. It's the rest of us, who come along at times like this, caught up in the roar of the crowd and the cheers of the winners enclosure, tempted by the chance of easy money, who give it a bad name.

With that in mind I'm off to cheer on Dun Doire in the William Hill Trophy. A cert, apparently. Some guy told me....


Blogger Padraig said...

A cert indeed, i hope you had the house deeds on him. Great post, i hold my hand up and profess to be of the fools who succumbs to cheltenhamitis, its a great week dashing over and back to the bookies though.

5:06 p.m.  

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