When GM was a much younger man, footloose and fancy-free, he used to follow and gamble on horse-racing, only flat though, he wasn't a fan of hurdles. Being, as he is, very careful with money, I doubt he took many big risks, but working on finding out about the lineage of the horse, the success of the trainer and various other factors, he often made a small supplement to his income.
When we met we were both living in West Ewell, the less well-healed part of the borough of Epsom and Ewell, and were very aware of the carnival atmosphere in the area during Derby week (as it was then). Only once in the 22 years I was there did we actually visit the race meeting, but we always both picked a horse to back - this was the only gambling we allowed ourselves during that period, and since we moved away we have continued the tradition of picking the horse we thought would be the Derby winner, with varying success rates, and let's just say that we are both out of pocket over the years but not by a huge sum (I'm talking about 10s of pounds rather than anything more).
Stepping back further in time to the 70s when I lived in Essex, I had a friend by the name of Janice, I don't remember exactly when we met, she was at that time one of the crowd we bumped into in the pub and as the years passed we became fairly close friends. Soon after I moved away, she married and her surname became Hobbs.
Fast-forward again to yesterday, Derby Day.
I woke with that horrible feeling of an imminent bout of cystitis, but fortunately my surgery have given me some quite strong tablets to take to nip it in the bud so after breakfast I took one. The only slight side effect to them is feeling a bit "fuggy".
GM gave me the part of the newspaper with the list of Derby runners and riders to choose my horse. GM still uses his old tried and trusted method of picking a horse, my method is slightly less scientific, I just glance through the list and pick a name I like. Yesterday, I chose three names on the list (alphabetically) Hans Holbein, because I have recently started painting (a bit of a tenuous connection, I'll grant), Jack Hobbs, because of the similarity of the name to my long-term friend Janice, and Rogue Runner (because GM's name appears if you subtract the letters u u n n e and r). In an attempt to cut the list down to one horse I looked at the betting figures and discovered that Rogue Runner was a 100/1 outsider so was immediately chopped of the list, and that Jack Hobbs was second favourite with quite short odds, so I plumped for Hans Holbein. Very unusually it transpired that using his method of selection, GM had picked the same horse, so I felt my choice was vindicated and he dutifully went online and backed the horse for both of us.
Mid morning, and imagine my surprise when my phone started ringing and displayed Janice's name. I answered the phone only to hear vague noises in the background, so after saying hello several times I hung up. Half a minute later the phone rang again, so I answered it again, and the same thing happened. After the third time of ringing I texted Janice to find out what was going on, apparently she was out gardening with her phone in her pocket and the phone was ringing me of its own accord.
I thought no more about it and carried on with my day, feeling a bit fuggy, but managing to complete a few tasks. Come 3.45 in the afternoon I was ready for a shower, and, as quite often happens, once I was under the shower I began to feel pretty relaxed. Then it hit me - the universe had been trying to tell me something, Jack Hobbs was going to win the Derby, I felt sure of it. But then reason took over, I had placed a bet on Hans Holbein, the same horse that GM had chosen, and by the time I could get dried and dressed it would be too late to do anything about it anyway. So I did nothing.
4.30, the race started, and Hans Holbein took the lead very early on and held on to it right until Tattenham Corner (famous for the Emily Davison suicide), both GM and I were guardedly excited, of course, but knew full well that the likelihood of holding on to the lead was slim. And we were right, once on the homeward straight other, stronger horses took over and by the finishing line the leader was the favourite Golden Horn, but Jack Hobbs was second, and the tiring Hans Holbein? Well let's just say that he finished ahead of Rogue Runner.
So, the moral of this story is two-fold. Firstly, I realize now that had I not been feeling fuggy I might have made the connection earlier while there was still time to change my bet, and had I done that I would not have lost the initial stake money, but would instead have broken even as Jack Hobbs started at 4/1 and my bet was an each way bet. Secondly, gambling is a mug's game and should only be undertaken for a bit of fun, using only money that you can afford to lose.