AS we counted our winnings from the Irish 2,000 Guineas and fought each other to buy the next round, myself and the lads were having a good day in the local last week while enjoying the build-up to the Heineken Cup final. Things took a turn for the worse, though, when I suggested we put half the betting pot on Leinster to win half-time/full-time.
Having picked Roderic O'Connor earlier at 7/2, the lads were happy to trust my judgment and off I went with half a monkey (€250) to the bookies, as I thought, to buy some easy cash.
As they watched the action on the big screen, I watched the betting on the small screen of my phone -- but it soon became clear that the bookmaker would be keeping the cash.
With 30 minutes gone our useless betting docket now sat crumpled up among half a dozen empty glasses of stout.
Come half-time, Leinster were trading around 9/2 to win, which was the bet of the year in retrospect, and I felt sure that the boys in blue would come out fighting after getting a severe bollocking.
But my credibility as a tipster had been shattered by that stage and a decision was made that no more money would be left in the bookies' greasy till so the bet was left unplaced.
The rest, as they say, is history and I watched with joy (but also some horror) as Jonny Sexton and Co destroyed Northampton with one of the greatest comebacks this century. They say that hindsight is always 20/20 but, for gamblers, it's a constant voice in our head which tells us how stupid we have been.
The Greek tragedian playwright Sophocles believed that one shouldn't dwell on past mistakes and was probably right when he said that men should, "have no desire to suffer twice, in reality and then in retrospect." But I highly doubt that he was ever left out of pocket down in his local taverna while betting with his mates of a Saturday afternoon, and I can't help kicking myself over the missed opportunity.
Whether or not the lads will listen to me or not this week is another matter, but I reckon we can get some of that cash back off the bookmakers at Haydock, where Regal Parade looks the bet of the day in the Timeform Jury Stakes (3.35), priced around 9/4. Punters may remember the Pivotal gelding landing the biggest victory of his career, in monetary terms at least, in the 2009 Sprint Cup at this venue and he was also on the money in another Group One in France last August. His form has held up this term, only finding Delegator too good last time in the Duke of York stakes.
Regal Parade's trainer, David Nicholls, has said that he'll only race if the ground conditions are suitable and as I write, the good-to-firm description might be a little too fast.
However, the seven-year-old has winning form on all sorts of ground and personally, I don't think there'll be a problem with this versatile chestnut, which is officially rated 10lbs clear of Beacon Lodge, his nearest rival in the betting. That horse, trained by Clive Cox, may prove to be the strongest challenger.
At 12/1 or thereabouts, the Andrew Balding-trained Catalyze looks a fair bit overpriced for the TurfTV handicap at Newmarket (2.20). He hasn't raced since October but the word from Kingsclere is that the three-year-old has wintered well and is expected to improve now that he's been stepped up to a mile.
2.20 Newmarket: Catalyze (e/w)
3.35 Haydock: Regal Parade
9.0 Stratford: Forever My Friend