A Winning Day At The Races

So, the four of us went to Great Yarmouth races. That's me, Tony, Gareth & Danny. It was Danny's idea. 

He said: ''Are you interested in going to Yarmouth on the 31st July?'' 

We didn't take much convincing although Tony had intended to work. As it tuned out, it was a good idea. 

Travelling by train, we got the 8:34 from March, the heart of the Fens. I wouldn't call myself a carrot cruncher but we did chat to a bloke later in the day who mentioned webbed feet!

A change at Ely, Norwich, then about a 30 minute journey to a place associated with the great man himself Lord Nelson (he actually lived up the road in Burnham Thorpe). The train went quicker than the traffic on the Acle straight. The whole journey took about two hours. With good company, it seemed much quicker. There is no rush. Smiles, laughter and talking tips, prices...red hot favourites.

''It's a favourites track.'' 

It's a short walk from the railway station to the market place. Danny didn't realise and suggested we got a taxi. The taxi man politely explained it was a short walk, clearly finding reason to get rid of a very cheap fare. I couldn't blame him. Not much to be gained from a £5 trip when waiting in the taxi rank for far too long. 

A short walk to the Feathers public house. A friendly place, clean, tidy and inexpensive beer. Different from the racecourse where a round is getting on for £20. 

The market was busy and the lady on the hat stand sold Danny something that resembled a Panama. It was as much to keep the sun at bay as being a style guru. He looked the part.

We got a taxi to the course. This bloke shared his tips for the day and didn't inform us it was only ''two miles'' to walk. I've walked along the front but it's a long, long walk – an endless straight. Plenty of furlongs if you want to look at it in that way. Good to firm going, if not hard. Ten minutes drive and stops at the wrong gate. Walked half a furlong to the members enclosure. Almost £30. Scandalous. 

I love the course. 

So many memories. A family tradition. A happy pilgrimage. Remembering family and friends who did the same. I remember the stories. We were part of the stories. Holidays to Caister-on-sea. Love you, Dad. That's where the sport of kings whispered in my ear that one day you will bet like a pro. I certainly have. Many times one, two, three grand. But not today. 

Time passes so quickly. Ten minutes to the first race. I was interested in the second – a two-year-old novice stakes. 

The first race come and gone. An easy 10/1 winner. No joy. Danny bet on the favourite. Tony chances his luck on an outsider.

We walked to one of the stands. Sausage and chips, fishcake and chips twice, while Dan had fish and chips. A decent meal for the price. Not so scandalous. Hunger making any price seem palatable. 

The two-year-old race had a couple of horses I fancied. Karl Burke's Lonely Boy and Beryl The Petal who I thought had sound each-way claims. I would have rather backed Lonely Boy each-way but the price was 7/4. Had a win bet on both and each-way bet on Beryl at 4/1. I don't think there was much value floating about. 

Tony had his eye on Taylormade, trained by Mohamed Moubarak. This son of Archipenko had raced once back in May, running down the field. Ninth of thirteen. He fancied the 25/1 shot. It was 30s on Betfair. 

Tony has won some huge money for small stakes in his time. £20 to £4000 when Puggy won on debut. She went on the compete in the 1000 Guineas. He's had many similar bets often simply because he likes the look of a horse. Well, Taylormade registered on his radar. 

He walked up to one bookie with a few £20 pound notes, another with a smaller bet. A few quid on Betfair. 

I felt pretty confident my two horses would be there about. 

''They're off!'' shouted commentator, Thommo, a regular at the course. 

Lonely Boy and Beryl The Petal leading. Soon battling with the pack. This wasn't going to be so easy. Losing. Fighting for the lead. 

Taylormade mentioned. Tony getting more animated. 

''Go on, Taylor...'' 

I looked to see what I was shouting for sensing Tony had much more to win than me to lose. 

It was close. Very close. 


An anxious wait. Tony saying he thought Taylormade had just got up but you can never be sure. The announcement of the photo. Silence before the a merry bunch cheered. Number 4. Taylormade 1st. Tony looking happy. Danny sitting in the grandstand unaware of any winner, as yet. 

One bookie paid £400. Another the same. Money ready. ''I've counted it twice.'' Tony took the bundle with a thank you. Taylormade had won him well over a grand with the Betfair wager struck, too. A wallet bulging at the seams. 

Walking across the grass, climbing the steps to a hatted Danny, racing paper in hand. Looking up, seeing smiles, and listening to a story of winning. ''I had a feeling you bet on that!'' Danny telling everyone he met Tony had won over a grand. 

A great day.