Long odds on any monkey business

EVER keen to join the Suffolk jet set, I found myself up on Newmarket heath for the 2000 Guineas over the bank holiday weekend.

Naturally as a would-be celebrity of the Felixstowe peninsula, my fame, or lack of it, didn’t butter many parsnips on a race day. I was forced to join the heavy traffic and go round in a Newmarket-shaped circle before I finally parked my small blue Polo in the jockey’s car park – a mistake brought on by the fact that I was waved in by a high visibility be-decked marshall who somehow mistook me for a small, short, thin man.

Alighting the car I heard a comment from a nearby lady of a certain age.

“I think that jockey’s going to be riding a bit heavy today,” she hissed to her companion.

I let it go. Though judging by the look of her she hadn’t been up at dawn on the gallops either.

Once inside the Rowley Mile compound, and I’d brought my father Duncan who is more usually interested in steam engines than the delights of the flat season, we started with a drink – I chose Pimms because I was driving.

As we studied the form – I spotted the sign that said the going was good to soft, or soft to good – which according to Duncan meant it could be sticky in places and we’d have to stick to the made-up roads on the way home.

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Father placed his first bet by asking the lady at the Totaliser for a tenner on the winner.

“Unfortunately, the race hasn’t run yet, sir” she patiently explained before he made his choice.

Picking a winner in the 2 o’clock and a place – I tend to go each way – in the 2.30 I was in buoyant mood with a pony in my back pocket for the first classic of the season.

I put a fiver on Power at 12-1 hoping for a nice little earner.

By the time Camelot – which father had backed – came over the line my horse was still languishing in Six Mile Bottom presumably looking for a taxi.

The 3.45 was a waste of time – too many runners – and the horse I backed had apparently only ever been successful at Ayr.

Over in the Hyperion Lawn we stopped for a steak and ale pasty and a sit down.

It was there I spotted Monsignor – a retired racehorse who was enjoying the grass and relaxed atmosphere. He didn’t look very highly strung at all to me.

It wasn’t until The Qatar Racing Newmarket Stakes at 4.55pm over a mile and two furlongs that my luck changed again.

This time, despite initially trying to back a non-runner – I chose number 4 Noble Mission and number 1 Mariner’s Cross gaining a winner and a place in what turned out to be a five horse race – even I know the odds must be in your favour when the field is somewhat quiet.

In the end it was cold and we came away. I was up �9.75 on the day – a long way from the monkey I was hoping for.

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