Wednesday 17 October 2018

For bookies, an empty chair is not a good look

Declan Lynch

Declan Lynch

The bookies were everywhere in RTE's coverage of Punchestown, as you'd expect. And the vicissitudes of their ancient trade were never better demonstrated than in the finish to the Growise Champion Novice Chase - in which jockey Paul Townend made the astounding error of bypassing the last fence, veering to the right while in the lead on Al Boum Photo, taking Finian's Oscar out of it as well, allowing The Storyteller to win in a ludicrously unexpected way.

You will not get a more poignant illustration than this, of how the punters are mocked by the baleful gods - of the way that the aficionados like to see themselves as General Eisenhower, as strategic overlords directing the D-Day landings, when in truth they are more like the troops in the opening scenes of Saving Private Ryan, being shot to pieces on the beaches of Normandy.

And, yet, even some of those troops managed to stay alive somehow - likewise such torments as were endured by backers of Townend's horse, could be contrasted with the wild elation of supporters of The Storyteller, celebrating the proverbial bullets they had dodged.

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