Thursday was the first day of the Aintree Festival and my two naps were Cue Card and Annie Power.
Annie Power was a comprehensive winner at Cheltenham just a few weeks ago and was a big odds-on shot to repeat the feet on Merseyside. The mare didn’t disappoint as she cruised to an 18-length victory.
Cue Card was a less obvious choice after falling in the Gold Cup but the 5/4 jolly put in a brilliant shift to land the Betfair Bowl.
I wasn’t done there either and had myself £100 later that evening backing Liverpool with a goal start in their Europa League semi-final first leg with Borussia Dortmund.
I ended up over £360 up for the day and had also been reading a book entitled The Power of Karma. So in keeping with the spiritual principle of cause and effect I considered a mate of mine who was in prison and thought I would share the wealth and sent him in a £50 postal order.
He rang me three days later to say thank you. I advised him to spend it wisely. His reply? “I have mush. I’ve bought £48 worth of baby oil and eight Wham bars.”
Saturday was Grand National day, a day when the whole country literally goes gambling crazy.
I had a bit of fun early doors when my dad asked me who I fancied for the big one while round his house on Saturday morning and I advised him to back Hoof Hearted. I was struggling to keep a straight face as he poured over the racing pages of the Daily Mirror while becoming more and more irate.
“Hoof hearted? You sure? I can’t see it lad. Looked all over Aintree here and can I f*ck find Hoof Hearted!” He only clicked when a tear of laughter ran down my face and began guffawing uncontrollably.
My fancies for the big one where Many Clouds and The Druids Nephew at 9/1 and 16/1 respectively. The Druids Nephew was never really in it and was pulled up after 21 fences while a bad mistake cost Many Clouds the chance to become the first horse since Red Rum to win back-to-back Nationals. The horse looked to have every chance at one stage but a bad blunder took everything out of the betting jolly and the nag eventually limped home in sixteenth, dead last in terms of those who finished the race. Indeed it trailed home so late I’m surprised the jockey wasn’t wearing pyjamas.
It was quite a weekend of sport. I began consoling myself after my Grand National debacle with the fact I’d backed Jordan Spieth (£20 at 15/2) to win the Masters. In over 20 years of irresponsible gambling I’d never napped a Masters winner before the tournament started.
Spieth, the best American golfer about at the minute, had been leading since the first round and after big rival Rory McIlroy began dropping shots late Sunday afternoon I thought he was a sure thing to retain his Masters crown. On the front nine of his final round Speith was imperious, unflustered and deadly on the greens. At one stage he was five shots clear and I was already plotting how to spend the £150 that was surely coming my way.
Then, without explanation, his head went. A quadruple-bogey seven at the twelfth was a game changer and up there with the great choke jobs of yore. Think Jana Novotna in the 1993 Wimbledon final. Think Jimmy White in the 1994 World Snooker final. Think England penalty takers throughout the 1990s.
A second straight wire-to-wire Masters win had been well and truly f*cked, and while he still picked up $880,000 for coming second, there was no consolation prize for yours truly. Masters golf – spoiling my Sunday’s since the mid 1990s.
Cheeky’s Punt of the Week: West Ham to beat Manchester United at 15/8 (Paddy Power)