Friday 20 April 2018

Marathon effort of picking a winner

Weird Wide World of Sport

Derek Fox celebrates after winning the Grand National on board One For Arthur. Pity I wasn’t doing the same
Derek Fox celebrates after winning the Grand National on board One For Arthur. Pity I wasn’t doing the same

Dave Devereux

On Saturday morning I began my annual guessing game of trying to pick the winner of the Grand National, a task almost as onerous as weeding a flower bed that has been invaded by an army of unwelcome guests.

I have managed to select the victor of the marathon steeplechase on a few occasions, but even a stopped clock is right twice a day, and more often than not my picks are well off target, like Chris Waddle's high and not so handsome penalty in the semi-final of Italia '90.

What would be my method of choice this year? Would I go through the form with a fine tooth comb, or would I pick my favourite shade of blue, maybe royal, maybe sky, maybe turquoise?

How about bowing down to my creative senses and plumping for a lyrical name that rolls off the tongue or a moniker that somehow holds a special resonance for myself?

I could have picked Saint Are because of the shimmering halo above my head and my beatitude, or maybe Gas Line Boy, because I've surely come out with a gas line once or twice in my lifetime.

Maybe I would consider myself Pleasant Company and Goodtoknow? Sure I'm not a bad lad, with my Wonderful Charm and all that, and without any conceit intended I'd consider myself the Perfect Candidate to invite for a fun and frivolous night out.

I'd chat away over a pint or two and maybe even a small chaser, but if I had More of That I'd be likely to do a Double Shuffle on the dancefloor before the evening was out.

With a surname like Devereux, the Gallic influence is an indisputably strong force within me, so Vieux Lion Rouge, Houblon Des Obeaux, Le Mercurey, La Vaticane, Tenor Nivernais, Roi Des Francs, Saphir Du Rheu and Raz De Maree were all given more than a cursory glance.

I was following events from Augusta closely so I came within a short putt of picking Just A Par, like plucking a five-iron from a golf bag, or maybe choosing The Young Master as I watched Jordan Spieth produce some magic around the greens.

Being partial to a bit of Rainy Night in Soho by The Pogues, Measureofmydreams almost got saddled with the weight of my money, until I realised I hadn't a Stellar Notion what to go for, so I resorted to the tried and trusted closing the eyes and sticking a pin in the newspaper method.

Once the noble steed was selected in such scientific fashion, the next big question facing me was which friendly bookmaker should I give my charitable donation to this year?

Would I be sure enough of my nag battling it out to be first past the post to go for the quarter of the odds each-way on offer for finishing in the top four, or hedge my bets slightly and opt for the slightly less lucrative fifth of the odds at a bookmakers that were promising a financial return for plodding home in the first six places?

As it transpired, if they were paying out for finishing in the first 15 my docket would still have been as worthless as a crumpled up crisp packet discarded in the corner of a bin and I was feeling like a Wounded Warrior by the end of the thrilling race.

As the sun was setting I slumped on a bench in the back garden to contemplate the events of the day and poured myself a nice cold, soothing can of Guinness. 'One For Arthur,' I muttered to myself.

Ah jaysus, if only I'd started drinking at ten in the morning.

Good job Cocktails at Dawn didn't win or I'd be asleep before they're under starter's orders.

Gorey Guardian