Wrong gamble leaves me in a flutter

Not a penny. Not a single penny. A fellow Galalean pulls off nothing short a miracle and rides home the winner of the Grand National at the first asking at 66-1. Last year’s Braw Lad Ryan Mania astride Auroras Encore wowed Aintree and the racing world, coasting home 11 lengths clear.

And I didn’t win a penny. Not a single penny. Because my humble £5 Grand National gamble was spread on £1 winning hopes on horses I’d drawn in sweeps – Imperial Commander, Tatenen and Swing Bill – rounded off with an extravagant £2 on Rare Bob because somehow I could associate with the name. If only I had stuck with £1 on Rare Bob and put the other 100p on Ryan’s mount I’d have been £66 better off and would not have subjected to the ridicule I received at the hands of my friends in Selkirk.

I suppose it was deserved because two days earlier after Selkirk trainer Stuart Coltherd had watched his Tartan Snow romp home in the Fox Hunters Chase at Aintree under Hawick jockey Jamie Hamilton, I suggested that Gala would go one better. I reminded them that a Braw Lad was riding in the big one and that on three previous occasions he had safely negotiated the mighty fences of the Liverpool track – although not, of course, in the National.

So the despondence and ridicule I endured when Ryan crossed the winning line and almost to a man they cheered and jumped in the air and headed off to collect their winnings and I stood silently gazing at the scenes of jubilation on the telly, was probably well deserved.

I held on to my betting slip hoping for a few pennies as Rare Bob had finished fifth at 16-1. The bookie only paid out on four places. Not a penny.

And none of my horses brought me anything in the various sweeps.

Oh, and I never had a bet on Stuart’s Coltherd’s Tartan Snow either.

I gain solace from the fact the Grand National meeting this year was a great day for the Borders. The names of Selkirk, Galashiels, Clovenfords, Hawick, the Scottish Borders were broadcast to a world-wide audience.

But will we capitalise on it? Have we heard tourist chiefs or our local authority announcing they are even considering plans to keep the area in the spotlight. Not a thing.

Sadly we were back in the news the next day when Ryan took a horrendous fall and a kick while riding at Hexham. He was airlifted to hospital with what appeared to be serious injuries. Thankfully this proved not to be the case and the jovial, unassuming, 23-year-old was the focus of a victory parade through the centre of Galashiels.

I never thought I’d sit in the same photo line-up as a winning Grand National jockey.

But when, as a guest speaker, at last year’s Spurs Night dinner of the Gala Souters Association we shared a top table, I doubt if he thought that less than a year later, he’d be a winning Grand National Jockey. Well done, Ryan, and well done Stuart. That’s an Aintree you’ll never forget.

Margaret Thatcher died this week. She left a few communities with hardly a penny. She won’t be forgotten either.