Not a lot of people know this but I have an acute phobia of fairground rides.
My suspicion is it all goes back to an ill-fated school exchange trip to Spain circa spring-94, when leading the troops (a rowdy mob of Walkman toting 14 year olds) into battle at some dreadful theme park, I was coerced by a moustachioed Basque Brian Potter look-a-like into parting with enough pesetas to earn several minutes on Bilbao’s version of the Big Dipper.
Big Dipper – Big Mistake.
In fact, a double whammy of misfortune as I recall it……
Seconds in and quickly realising this wasn’t the sport for me, I let out a blood curdling yell of sheer, total, utter terror.
Sadly, the world’s universal theme park mantra would appear to be ‘scream if you wanna go faster!’, so cranking the beast up to near warp speed levels, El Loco Potter revelled in my misery as I was hurled around the tracks, then suspended upside down for about 30 seconds, before being plummeted towards what I thought was certain death.
This torturous routine was then repeated. Three times.
Eventually it sidled to a halt, and trying to play the hard man I strutted off in front of my mates, only to somewhat ruin the moment by immediately falling over.
They say revenge is a dish best served cold. I’ve absolutely no idea where that absurd suggestion came from, but personally I believe it is a actually a dish best served hot, smelly and projectile, thoughts at the forefront of my mind as I then proceeded to be sick at the feet of my tormentor, El Loco Potter.
It also meant my hefty peseta investment deprived me of sufficient funds to participate in that night’s under age San Miguel session.
Schoolboy error. The 2011 vintage would never be so foolish let me tell you. Enough said.
This story was at the forefront of my mind as I arrived at Epsom on Friday, to be immediately confronted by a terrifying array of amusements and rides, all of which have clearly been deployed with the specific intention of keeping me away from the place, which is why I’m very glad to be on patrol for Channel 4 Racing at the other end of the country in the betting ring at Doncaster on Saturday afternoon.
After showing the first three races live on 4 the usual routine is to grab a perch in the Donny stable lads’ canteen and cheer home your Derby selection.
It’s been a turbulent week to say the least in the market for the big race, with the vibes about Carlton House’s possible problems apparent to exchange watchers well before the official announcement arrived.
Full Colour Epsom Derby Racecard and Best Odds
You can read chapter and verse about the merits of Her Majesty’s runner in the newspapers today, but my money is on the prize crossing the channel for the first time since 1976 with Pour Moi and Vadamar lining up for France.
Totesport bet 11/4 that Saint-Cloud’s Prix Greffulhe provides the Derby winner, and I think that’s a reasonable price with two major contenders coming here having finished in the first three in that contest.
Master trainer Andre Fabre saddles the winner of that race Pour Moi, and his bullish comments in the build up to Epsom have done nothing to dampen my enthusiasm.
By mile and a half specialist Montjeu he looks certain to enjoy the step up in trip, possesses a lightening turn of foot, and benefits from the assistance of rising star Mickael Barzalona in the saddle.
He worked really nicely at the Breakfast With The Stars event at Epsom last week, and is said to have settled in really well.
I for one wouldn’t be at all surprised if Pour Moi were to spoil what’s being built up to be the Carlton House show, and at 11/2 with any of Bet365, Coral, Ladbrokes or Paddy Power, he represents very fair value.
The same can be said of the horse he beat into third at Saint-Cloud, with the Aga Khan’s Vadamar sneaking in somewhat under the radar.
Trained by Alain de Royer-Dupre he stayed on well to be third in the Greffulhe when sent off at odds on, and looks sure to appreciate further.
He sustained a nasty cut that day which may well have hindered his chances, but a smooth prep means the 20/1 with Ladbrokes is definitely worth a squeeze each way, especially as the Magic Sign are offering 1/4 odds each way when some miserable firms are only betting to 1/5.
There might not be too much between them, but both have the class to win a Derby and I can’t back one without the other.
Up at Musselburgh the feature Totescoop6 Scottish Sprint Cup (live on C4 at 3.40pm) is wide open, and I fancy a 20/1 shot to spring a surprise in the shape of sprint king Dandy Nicholls’ charge Fol Hollow.
A previous course and distance winner who’s dropped nearly a stone from his highest mark, the six year old is lightning fast and would only have to rediscover a flicker of previous form to take this if on a going day.
As such the 20/1 available with any of Victor Chandler, Betfred or William Hill is a most generous suggestion.
As I said I’ll be at Donny, and in the opener there at 2.20pm I’m prepared to forgive Mick Channon’s Rigolleto for a squalid performance last time out when finishing last of 17 at Haydock.
The Ad Valorem colt is definitely not one for maximum confidence, but I do think he has ability and in an open race can make the frame at 14/1 with Coral.
The other bet at Town Moor comes in the Conditions race at 3.25pm, with John Gosden saddling previous course winner Buthelezi.
The Dynaformer colt has won three of his six career starts, has the edge on experience over all of this small field, and improved to finish second in a Newmarket listed race last time.
All his rivals need to improve to match the level he has already achieved, and at 9/4 with Totesport, Boylesports or Bet365 he’s expected to win.
I’ll sign off with a last word on the phobia issue though – I also suffer from a volume dislike of celery, and would honestly rather eat my own toe nail clippings than consume or even touch just one stick of the offensive green plant.
Most people who know me well are fully aware of this, which is possibly why during my best man’s speech at my sister’s wedding, column doyen Lord Culcheth thought it would be funny to throw a stick of celery at my head as I was up on the stage in full flow.
Rather like me handing over my cash to El Loco Potter, big mistake.
In fairness I think even Lord Culcheth understood this as, later in the day, he tried desperately to avoid the arsenal of empty Budweiser bottles raining down on him as he tried to show off on the nearby bouncy castle.
Enjoy the sunshine and good luck!
Saturday’s best bets:
2.20 Doncaster – williamhill.com Handicap – 3 Rigolleto (each way) @ 14/1 (Coral)
3.25 Doncaster – Visit williamhill.com On Your Mobile! Conditions Stakes – 2 Buthelezi (win) @ 9/4 (Totesport, Boylesports or Bet365)
3.40 Musselburgh – Totescoop6 Scottish Sprint Cup (Handicap) – 13 Fol Hollow (each way) @ 20/1 (Victor Chandler, Betfred or William Hill)
4.00 Epsom – Investec Derby – 9 Pour Moi (win) @ 11/2 (Bet365, Coral, Ladbrokes or Paddy Power)
4.00 Epsom – Investec Derby – 13 Vadamar (each way) @ 20/1 (Ladbrokes)
Posted 6 years, 3 months ago