No, dear reader, this isn’t a post about mucking around on a boat. This, I’m sure you’ll be pleased to hear, is a post all about my underwhelming gambling career. This week is probably the best in the calendar for the Sport of Kings as the Cheltenham Festival rolls around again. I’ve been burnt many times by betting on the horse racing, yet I find it hard to resist the great festivals.
From a purely betting perspective, there’s (potentially, hopefully!) a much better chance of picking a winner, as the form of the best horses stands up better than the form of those nags in class six races who wouldn’t look out-of-place working Blackpool beach.
But there is far more to it than that. While I’ve sadly never been, the atmosphere seems incredible. Also, over four days, the best of the best congregate – a fantastic and memorable performance is only ever a matter of minutes away. Racing history is tangible, and is being made. This week Kauto Star and Denman will face off for a third time for the Gold Cup, in one of sport’s truly greatest duels. You don’t need to have a bet on to appreciate that contest.
I also think something is added by the festival taking place during the week. If you go, or even if you watch at home, there must be that lovely feeling of ‘playing hooky’. Things always seem more enjoyable if you really should be at work. It certainly gives it a different feel to sporting events that take place on evenings or weekends. And by progressing over four days there is a distinct narrative and flow to the week, whether you can get the time off or not (not in my case).
This flow for the week allows for a nice routine, whatever it may be. But an essential element has to be starting the day with the Racing Post. Each morning you’ll find me leafing through it, eager to find that elusive winner.
Yesterday I got lucky, and had a couple of nice wins. I then got a series of text messages from a mate as he racked up over £600 worth of winnings over the course of the afternoon. No such riches for me, far from it, as I’m far too cautious with my betting stakes. Still, that will play to my advantage today as each and every selection elects to stop for a pee half way round, run backwards, grind to a halt, etc etc…