So Grand National Day is finally here. If you’re like me, then this is the one day of the year when you’ll be placing a bet; and if you’re like me, you’ll haved saved up a years potential betting for one day when you can go at it with some real cash and look to making some real money….which brings me back to my first big win, back in 1988.
The story actually starts a week earlier, on the Easter Monday; we’d driven to Banbury on a rainy Bank Holiday just for something to do; it was about a 30 minute drive along the A41 but was definitely more provincial than where we’d left. We arrived and the rain hadn’t stopped and it was lunchtime when we spotted a cosy looking Italian restaurant with parking outside (not such a luxury then…).
The restaurant was empty and after a superb meal and a bottle of wine and watching the rain stop, we decided to venture out and explore Banbury.
Well, we managed less than 100 yards before the heavens opened up again, and the nearest available shelter was a Ladbrokes bookmakers shop, so we dived in the doorway, swapping rain and cold for warmth and cigarette smoke. Now this wasn’t an unfamiliar environment for me, but for my more attractive female companion, it was slightly unusual. Anyway, after the stares subsided and the rain continued, we decided that we’d stay for while, and I thought it was only polite to look at the race-form papers on the wall.
As I began my earnest search, I became aware of someone very close to me and as I looked round, a small chap muttered to me in a broad Irish accent “You could do a lot worse than put some money on Rhyme and Reason…” and he just walked away over to the counter, where he took out £200 and placed his bet. Now I’d always thought it more ‘noble’ to make my own selection, but then I also believed in following the money so I swiftly followed with my £ 20 win, Rhyme and Reason, Irish Grand National.
Twenty minutes later, the horse romps home at 6 to 1, netting me a tidy £ 120 profit! (less tax) – best rainy day in a betting shop I’d ever had.
Fast forward to April 9th and the Grand National at Aintree.
I do like a little excitement with my Grand National Bet, so here’s what I do
- Pick 4 horses (my own selection criteria)
- Back them all to win
- Bet every forecast combination
- Bet every tricast combination
- …and usually the bookies throw in “All 4, in any order”
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I’m not saying this is clever, skilled or anything other than what I consider a good fun (and potentially lucrative) bet and I invariably get a good run for my money.
This particular year, I had selected
- Rhyme and Reason
- Durham Edition
- West Tip
If you’d like to see the race, here it is – fast forward if you want to!
1st Rhyme and Reason
2nd Durham Edition
…and West Tip was 4th!
I can still recall the feeling in the final furlong knowing that it wasn’t a question of ‘if’ I won but ‘how much’ I was going to win depending on who won.
Anyway, after I’d calmed down from my victory dance, I went to the local bookmakers and queued with everyone else collecting their winnings.
When it was my turn at the counter, the clerk took my slip and ruffled through the pile in front of her; she found mine and looked at me, and said “One moment. Sir”.
The Manager came over and looked at me again and said “…if you’d like to come through here…”. I wondered what might be wrong as he opened the door to the office and led me to a chair.
I sat down and he gave me my slip back and £ 77.
“I’ll just get £ 900 from the safe, if you can wait a moment”
Well, I wanted to laugh out loud – the eyes were looking at me from over the counter now, as he counted out the £900 for me and put it into a big brown envelope. I could hardly contain myself as I walked out, and immediately broke into a run outside to get back and tell my family.
That was £ 977 for a £ 5 bet. Not bad.
Can you imagine what it would have been if West Tip had made it to third ???
I’ve had a few more winners since, but nothing like that.
Maybe it’s my time again this year.