Do you ever have one of those days, dear reader, when nothing goes your way? One of those days when every set of lights you arrive at turns red; where it seems to start raining as soon as you leave the house (minus umbrella); and, where you miss two buses and end up waiting thirty minutes for the next one?
Welcome to my Sunday horribilis. On the racing front, I was wrong, wrong, wrong, and wrong again. On the punting front, my wrongitude cost me fortune, as I followed my judgment over the top and into a barrage of artillery fire (or matched wagers, to be less metaphorical).
Let me briefly spell out my day, for which â€˜close but no cigarâ€™ was a fine maxim. It all started brightly enough, with the two and a half mile Prix du Cadran. I had it between Blek and Gentoo, and dutched the pair. Blek led for over two miles but was spent turning in, but Gentoo continued his impressive progress over staying trips and looks an out and out plodder.
Not for the first time â€“ though probably for the last â€“ Kasbah Bliss showed he doesnâ€™t really have the stomach for a fight, after cruising into contention and stopping almost as quickly. Heâ€™s getting on now, and I doubt thereâ€™s another crack at the Cadran left in him.
But that was as good as it got for meâ€¦
Next up was the Brit-fest Prix de lâ€™Abbaye, the sprint that we always seem to win (though often with the â€˜wrongâ€™ horse). I suggested Lady Of The Desert was an awful bet and couldnâ€™t win â€“ she finished second, so whilst technically right, to all intents and purposes I was wrong.
I backed Arctic at 33/1 each way, Marchand dâ€™Or at 16â€™s and Judge Nâ€™Jury at 150â€™s. The old Frenchie M dâ€™Or stayed on well to be fourth but never threatened the places, whilst the other two ran brilliantly for three and a half furlongs before fading out of it, finishing 5th and 8th of the 21 respectively. Swiss Diva was disappointing and never got in a blow.
Gilt Edged Girl, for Clive Cox and at 25/1, won nicely from the Lady Of The Desert, making it a fillies 1-2.
Oh well, my big priced beasties ran well enough, and I had the winner in the first, so plenty to be cheerful aboutâ€¦ Down, down we goâ€¦
Next came the juvenile fillies and I pulled on my punting boots to back â€˜good thingâ€™ Helleborine. Alas, she wasnâ€™t quite so good in a battle as Aiden Oâ€™Brienâ€™s Misty For Me, who stayed every inch of the trip and was pulling away from the better fancied Gallic runner at the post.
The two pulled three lengths clear of the rest, and form looks very goodâ€¦ with the important caveat that it looks very good soft ground form. That caveat is material for all of the races yesterday, so donâ€™t necessarily expect horses to finish in the same order the next time they meet.
After a painful reverse there, I was glad of the respite offered by the Grand Criterium (or Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere as it is known these days). It was too tricky so I swerved it. If only Iâ€™d felt the entire card was too tricky!
In the event, Wootton Bassett was a convincing winner, giving both trainer Richard Fahey and champion jockey-elect, Paul Hanagan, their first Group 1 victories. My token pick, Tin Horse, dead heated for second, but luckily enough Iâ€™d kept cash in wallet on this occasion.
Alas, that fiscal prudence wouldnâ€™t last the hour.
The Prix de la Foret followed, and it was the race I hoped it would be. Three brilliant horses all within a length of each other at the line. Unfortunately for me, Goldikova â€“ whom I had stupidly written off as unable to compete over seven furlongs â€“ proved yet again that sheâ€™s a wondermare.
In notching her ELEVENTH Grade 1 win, she now stands apart as the all time Grade 1 winning most mare in Europe. My second large bet of the day went west when Paco Boy proved unable to get by her for the zillionth time. What cruel irony it would be if he finally denied her in the race that matters most, her hat-trick attempt on the Breeders Cup Mile next month.
The news article on Goldikovaâ€™s win is here.
That they are both likely to head there is fantastic news, especially for me, as I will be cheering them on from the rafters, and hoping â€“ for the first time in his career â€“ that Paco doesnâ€™t win!
I had a place saver on Paco, which was some sort of silver lining to a dirty black cumulo-stratus. But the demons were to circle again soon enough.
The Prix de lâ€™Arc de Triomphe was the last race of interest to me, and a truly superb race it was too. Ignore the buffoons who suggest this was a sub-standard renewal. The field contained â€“ I believe â€“ seven Classic winners from this year and last, plus perennial Arc runner-up Youmzain and a tip top Japanese import.
I, as only a nincompoop with a loud hailer can, had trumpeted confidently that Workforce could not possibly win, and would be a surprise to even make the lineup. I am an idiot. Why would Sir Michael Stoute, a man who forgets daily more than I will ever know about racing, run the Derby winner in a race where he risked a large chunk of the ongoing stud value of the horse, if he didnâ€™t think he had a robust chance?
Hindsight is of course the only perfect science, and I am a black belt practitioner. Workforce ran straight as a gun barrel through a mÃ©lange of horses, proving that scintillating burst of pace that put the Derby to bed in a matter of strides was far from a fluke.
Indeed, the fluke was his flop in the King George.
Iâ€™ll say it again. I am an idiot.
Workforce is a brilliant horse, a true champion, and it is with great hope that I read he may stay in training next season. You can read about Workforce here.
My money was where my mouth is, and Behkabad was piled into. Insult was added to injury with a fat wager on the Behk to place in the first three. Of course, he finished fourth. Where else?!
I also place backed Planteur, and his fifth place became a disqualification as he was made a scapehorse (a bit like a scapegoat) for the rough and tumble that marred the home straight part of the race.
Despite what was a rough race, there were few hard luck stories. Behkabad didnâ€™t have a brilliant run through, but he would never have beaten the winner.
Fame And Glory is a bit of a one-pacer at the very top level. Sarafina got going too late and, though flying at the end, she was beaten two and a half lengths (and scuppered my â€˜get out of jailâ€™ punt).
Massive credit to the Japanese horse, Nakayama Festa, who was the third horse (I think) to place here, after a silver for El Condor Pasa and a bronze for the subsequently disqualified Deep Impact.
Iâ€™ll not write them off next year, especially given the other Oriental shipper, Victoire Pisa, was a creditable seventh too.
All roads now lead to the Breeders Cup and, for me personally, my â€˜recreationalâ€™ betting bank is in need of serious repair!