NOTHING beats a day at the races, especially when the sun is out and the fizz is flowing. At Musselburgh Racecourse last Saturday, that thought flitted through my mind as I arrived at the East Lothian venue’s newest addition to their annual calender, The Edinburgh Gin Scottish Sprint Raceday.
Seven ‘flat’ races were on the card and although I’ve never been a betting man - there’s no such thing as a dead cert so I’d rather keep my dosh - it seemed churlish not to get into the spirit of the day by picking a horse in each race, each-way, of course.
Now, the Old Man had placing a bet down to a fine art. Every Saturday he’d scribble out these highly-convoluted combinations of horses for his ‘20p roll-up’, then wait to see if his luck held.
It always amazed that from such a small stake, he’d occasionally win big. For the most part though, the bet was just to provide an interest as he watched World of Sport.
I learned three things about betting from the Old Man, the first was never to back a favourite - with the stakes he had to play with, it wasn’t worth it.
Second, was to watch for horses that were fourth last time out - “It’s due a win,” he’d say.
Finally, and most importantly, he’d insist, “Only ever bet with money you can afford to loose.”
So, with the couple of quid I could indeed afford to loose I got ready to try my luck trackside... but first I went to three ‘experts’ with greater knowledge of the sport of kings to get their tips.
There was the professional tipster who joined us before ‘the off’ and went through the card highlighting nine horses in the seven races, he couldn’t make up his mind for two of them and so hedged his bets suggesting a brace of possible winners in each of those races.
Then there was my pal, who shall remain nameless, who likes a wee bet and even has his own account at the bookies. My Whatsapp pinged and there was his selection, five horses he’d put his own money on. Winners surely.
Finally, there was the nephew, who has been known to win on the gee-gees, although, as I was to find out, that was down to an app that worked out the mathematical odds for him and not because he had some infallible system.
So, with all their suggestions rattling around my head I settled down to ‘study form’. Now, when I say ‘study form’, what I actually mean is checking which riders were wearing the blue and gold colours of my speedway team Edinburgh Monarchs, looking for horses that, on the Old Man’s advice, came fourth last time out, or that had names similar to characters in my plays. Foolproof.
And so it proved, sort of... after a couple of places I got a winner courtesy of Connor Murphy riding Ventura Gold in the fourth race.
It was one more winner than any of the ‘experts’ managed all day, indeed, the one horse we had all agreed on came in last.
Happy after a great day out I went home with my winnings... all 80p of them.