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Yesterday’s Tote Placepot at Cheltenham paid a record divided of £91,000. As most of us will have at least one Placepot tale to tell, I thought I would share mine (or three actually!), though I should say that I don’t really have this bet anywhere near as much as I should on the very biggest racing days when there is so much mug money in the pool. Something I aim to put right in 2016.
It was Cheltenham Gold Cup Day 2014. One of my favourite days of course but also as I could properly relax for the first time during the week as there was no overnight copy to write which was always frantically put together in time so I could be out and about for the first four races and then head back to the press room to finish it off in between the Foxhunters’, Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle and Grand Annual. As such, I had a later breakfast and decided to take in the atmosphere strolling around, reading the Racing Post on the grandstand steps, met up with a few people and a drink in the Mill House Bar and, before I knew it with the earlier start these days, the Triumph horses were entering the parade ring.
A quick dash over to the See You Then Bar to pick up a Placepot ticket where upon I filled it out (x5 two horses in a race and one banker for 32 lines) and reached into my pocket to find just £27. I very rarely bet at the racecourse and place most of my bets in the morning. Having seen my Placepot sunk without trace in the opening race for the first three days, rather than try and find a cashpoint in time as I wanted to see the horses in the paddock, or try to get a dodgy mobile phone reception, I just left it, horses marked across the ticket and all. I think you know what is coming next!!!
This was some of the rationale:
Race 1: Calipto (unplaced) was my Triumph horse so he went in without much thought. Not wanting to go out in the first race for the fourth day running I added Guitar Pete (3rd) for his consistency, something I look for in Placepot horses rather than for the likeliest winners as they are usually favourite anyway.
Race 2: Briar Hill and Kings Palace dominated the Albert Bartlett but this can be a funny race as it is such an extreme stamina test for a novice so I took them both on with Apache Jack (3rd) who was bred to appreciate the better ground that he had not yet encountered and my ante-post bet of Captain Cutter (unplaced).
Race 3: Arctic Fire (2nd) was my County Hurdle horse so he went in. I honestly can’t remember the second horse but it didn’t place anyway.
Race 4: Having advised as many as three non-runners in the Gold Cup (thankfully all were advised NR No bet), I eventually landed on On His Own (2nd) each-way on the day so he went in alongside fellow Irish raider, Lyreen Legend (unplaced).
Race 5: Banker time. On The Fringe (3rd) was the most likely horse to run his race in the Foxhunters’ so I was happy to just to row along with him.
Race 6: Caid Du Berlais (3rd) was my ante-post horse for the Martin Pipe aided by Paul Nicholls being so keen on him in a preview evening I attended at Bristol the previous week so in he went and, wanting two in the big-field handicap in the final leg, I added Une Artiste (unplaced).
I knew that I would have won it as soon as Caid Du Berlais had passed the line so was more pre-occupied with what figure I might have won rather than looking at the Grand Annual runners. When the dividend was announced, my jaw fell as it paid £44,416.60, the highest dividend of the year, which I would had to a £1 line if I had another fiver in my pocket. The two-hour drive home felt an awful lot longer.
My second Placepot tale is when I got it up at Kempton on Easter Monday in 1997 where it paid £3928 to £1 which I had to a 50p line, which was a huge win for me as a 28-year-old whose wife was on the brink of giving birth to our first child. It was only the next day I realised that all six legs actually won rather than a mixture of win and placed so I checked out the Tote Jackpot dividend. There wasn’t one as it wasn’t won. £34,143 was carried over to the following day. I can’t complain though, I’ve never struck a jackpot bet in my life.
My third and final Placepot tale is the most relevant as it was at today’s Cheltenham Meeting in 2000 when Go Roger Go won the big handicap chase and Geos took the International Hurdle. My friend and I elected to choose a different horse for each race so we would have 64 legs in total. Anyway, we got it up and it was nice enough payment, but leaving the course we realised that all six of my selections placed and all six of his were unplaced. And he didn’t even offer to buy me dinner afterwards! I’ll name and shame him. Richard Lowther. Still a good friend, a former house mate when we worked at Weatherbys together and now the best results reporter for the Racing Post and the most knowledgeable person I know in terms of horseracing. Can’t tip for toffee though!