Is that what I agreed to?
Apparently we owe Paul Byrne, who owns The Shunter, one tenth of a million pounds. Not quite sure how that happened – something about a bonus for winning both the bet365 Morebattle Hurdle at Kelso and any race at the 2021 Cheltenham Festival, which he duly managed when bolting up in Thursday’s running of the Paddy Power Plate. That wasn’t supposed to happen; it was just one of those PR lines: “Hey everyone, see the new conditions for the bet365 Morebattle. If you can win this race and follow up at Cheltenham we’ll give you a hundred grand.”
“Offer a big bonus,” I was told. “It’ll sound great, but you’ll never actually have to pay any money over.”
No one was supposed to win it. Not really. In fact I’m fairly sure that when we signed the idea off, it was a bonus of £100 for winning best-turned-out awards at both meetings…
But no. I’ve spoken to the connections and it seems that they laid The Shunter out for the bonus as soon as they heard we’d got together with bet365 and had been fool enough to offer it. Turns out that they’re quite keen to have the cash too. I’ve had a quick whip round in the office and I’ve managed to collect £14.80, a tenner of which came from a charity collection tin that has the words ‘Scottish Racing Academy’ printed on the side.
So I’ve inquired into selling a kidney – one careful owner, a bargain for five grand. All I need to do is shovel the proceeds onto Ramses De Teillee (my selection for the weekend) in the Midlands National at Uttoxeter and I’ll have the £100k by Monday. The jobs a good ’un.
But hold on what’s this? I’ve just checked my bet365 account and it seems I placed a £30 treble on horses which had recently participated in Festival trial races in Scotland. In addition to The Shunter at Kelso’s last meeting, Vintage Clouds (28/1 winner of the Ultima Chase) limbered up in our Edinburgh Gin Chase in February, while Belfast Banter (33/1 winner of the County Hurdle) appeared at Musselburgh’s bet365 sponsored Cheltenham Trials weekend.
A pay out of £100k – easy as that! And who doubted that racing in the North was relevant to the major festivals? It just goes to show that following northern form is almost as profitable as following horses ridden by Rachael Blackmore. Almost.
Now. Do I pay off The Shunter’s connections? Or do I just stick it all on Cloth Cap, the recent winner of Kelso’s bet365 Premier Steeplechase, in the Grand National next month?