Well, what a weekend that was. Not so much on the racing front, where the fare was moderate at best, falling as it did between two lavishly embroiderd stalls in the shape of Aintree and the Craven meeting at Newmarket.
No, the excitement was on the Georgia / South Carolina border, and a golf course in Augusta. The Masters is always a compelling spectacle and, inevitably, much more so when you’re invested.
In my ‘four off the tee’ piece here, I nominated Mickelson, Westwood, Snedeker and Cabrera. How joyous then that the last-named pair, and the biggest prices to boot – at 40/1 and 125/1 respectively, should comprise the final pairing as joint-leaders after the third round.
In the finish, all that guaranteed us was a great run for our money, and a chance to trade out of our positions. Snedeker, normally so reliable, became Snedekar-krash on a back nine which could be better alluded to as a hack nine. In truth, his three over par score for those closing nine – and the round as a whole – represented a minor triumph for a player who had forgotten how to play during the course of the afternoon.
Final, inevitable, insult was added to punting injury when the big chance of landing a 40/1 winner for the main bet fizzled out into the evaporation of a 10/1 place bet silver lining with a bogey on the last. That meant Snedeker finished tied sixth, and us five-place-players lost our dough.
I know some of you got 10/1 for half your cash by betting with a six-place-bookie; and I know some of you got out of jail by betting each way without Tiger Woods, but I did not.
Incidentally, had Tiger been disqualified, as he surely should have, after signing for the wrong score, then we’d have tied fifth and cashed a place ticket. If. If…
Back to Cabrera. Winner here in 2009, and seventh in 2011, Cabrera had gone out in the final two ball on both occasions. So, spectacularly for a player ranked 279 in the world now, this was his third final pairing start here in the last five years. Take that, Tiger!
He wobbled on the first, but showed composure and ability in equal measure to save an unlikely par. Capitalizing on that, he birdied the second, and then added another birdie at the seventh. Going into the infamous Amen Corner, around the turn here, the Argentine was three clear on -9, and looking set fair.
Though a bogey on the tenth planted a seed of doubt perhaps, it was an extraordinarily poor decision at the par five thirteenth which opened the door to the chasers, most notably Adam Scott.
Having tried to drive his tee shot with right to left down the thirteenth fairway, he hit is straight and true. Alas, on a dogleg hole, that’s not too smart. In the pine stuff, with a reasonable lie, a chip back into play and a wedge onto the green would have given him a putt for birdie. Heck, even a safe two putt would have made par.
Instead, Cabrera spanked the pimpled pebble greenward, only to see it land where so many have done over the years: in the ditch. A drop, a weak chip and a two putt later and he’d carded bogey, and the door was wide open.
This was a moment of Jean van de Velde fuzzy logic: a hugely unnecessary gamble when a par would have won him the tournament (it later transpired).
The rest is history. Long story (slightly) short(er), Cabrera rallied; forced a playoff with Scott after a mighty up and down on the last; traded blows with the Aussie on the first extra hole (where he lipped a chip from off the green); then lipped a putt on the second extra hole. Scott made no mistake with his (surely illegal) belly putter – an object which looked more like a school project made from a broom handle and a couple of model cars where the brush used to be.
In truth, it was an excellent putt and a fair reward from a fine 69 where he’d barely holed a putt all day prior to the winning hit.
It meant the triple digit payout – albeit for small money – had gone west, or rather, down under. The 31/1 place part was intact, as were the hedged stakes on both Cabrera and Snedeker. But the big steak dinner – gaucho style, natch – will have to await another day.
A thrilling weekend of sport on the green, and I hope those of you who like golf, loved the Masters.
Elsewhere, and we had a flash Ffos Las tipping competition yesterday, with fifty-odd of you playing for fun and/or Premier tickets to a Ffos Las meeting of your choice.
The full list of scorers is below. Well done to Caravan Col, not only for an excellent pen name, but also for nabbing three of the seven winners (including Sir Mattie, at 6/1 the longest priced on the card), and a profit of 7.25 units.
Col was playing for kicks, as was second-placed Alex, which meant that our bronze medallist, Steve D, gets the tickets. I’ll be in touch today, Steve.
Thanks, and well done to all who took part. It was a nice bit of fun on a quiet Sunday, and there will be competitions aplenty through the summer months. (Yes, I did say SUMMER!!)
So what’s coming up next? Well, this week really starts to feel like the flat season has kicked off, as the first of the main Classic trials are run, notably the Craven meeting at Newmarket and the Greenham meeting at Newbury.
I’m hoping to have a preliminary look at the 1000 and 2000 Guineas tomorrow, though finding a Classic winner at this stage is something of an exercise in nailing jelly to the wall.
Then, next week, we’ll have the Punchestown Festival, and there promises to be plenty of thrills and spills there. Of course, we’ll have plenty of coverage of Ireland’s greatest Festival (sorry Galway fans) right here on geegeez.
And of course there’s the Scottish National meeting from Ayr this weekend, and a two day fixture at Cheltenham on Wednesday and Thursday as well. It’s shaping up to be a cracker. 🙂
You might have noticed a change to geegeez in recent days. Let’s be honest: it would be hard to miss it. I’m talking about that long thin shocking pink bar at the top of the page. Did you notice it? What do you mean, no?!!
Well, I quite like it. It’s relatively unobtrusive – compared to my normal big boxes in the middle of your reading experience – and it’s a great place for me to ‘showcase’ what’s new and exciting (potentially) on the site.
Give it a read as it ticks through, and you’ll also see latest tweets, posts and other such stuff, which might point you to a piece of content you’d have kicked yourself for missing. And it might not, of course. Anyway, it’s there, and if you click the cream coloured text, that normally links to something interesting.
Talking of changes, I’m very hopeful that we’ll finally have the race cards and results back this week… and this time, I hope they might even be working! There’s loads more in development just now, and I’ll bring you more news on that as soon as I can.
That’s all for now though. I’ll be back tomorrow with that first look at the first Classics.