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Saturday, 20 October, 2018

Desperate for Van Gerwen glory after Sharma shame

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To celebrate the countdown to Christmas, the Racing Post is giving away one piece of paid content free each day. Here, Steve Palmer tells us his punting tales

When I was plodding up a lane the other day, a black cat went halfway across my path, sending me giddy with excitement. I thought this could be a potential turning point in my life, with a wonderful portion of luck heading my way courtesy of this magic mog.

He or she had emerged from the trees that line the lane, and clearly had a destination in mind, but the cat suddenly stopped and started staring at me. I must have been about 15 yards away, an unthreatening face, willing the little blighter to continue his journey. I stood still to further encourage.

Then a remarkable thing happened. The cat seemed to shrug his shoulders with disdain, then scuttled back from whence it came. I was crestfallen. What a tease. It was almost as if the cheeky sod felt I was not worthy of having the luck wand waved over me.

I should have known, then, that the golf tournament that was starting the following day would provide nothing but anguish. The cat had made his decision and my luck was out.

Mr Shubhankar Sharma made the Joburg Open a hellish experience for me, the Indian youngster firing a second-round 61 to scoot clear at the leaderboard summit. Had he managed to produce such fireworks a week earlier, Shubhankar would have left me an extremely satisfied man, as I backed him ante-post for the Mauritius Open.

I had £42 each-way (maximum allowed) on Sharma at 200-1 with Stan James for Mauritius, where he finished 27th, then a week later he turned into Superman without carrying my support. Being too early to a party is not cool. You have got to time your party arrival perfectly.

The wife and I arrived too early to an actual party the other day and got suitably punished. We were the first ones there, the hosts were a bit edgy about their 'spread', etc, and conversation was failing to flow. “Where's your dog?” I blurted out clumsily in a desperate attempt to fill the void.

“Oh, Ted died a month ago,” came the reply. Nice one, Steve – you really know how to kickstart the banter. “Is that the doorbell? No, oh, okay. Going to get another dog?”

The only thing worse than being early for an actual party is being too early with a golf wager that hits the jackpot immediately after. Sharma romped to Joburg Open glory at 125-1.

I tipped Tommy Fleetwood for the 2016 Race to Dubai at 300-1. Last month, Fleetwood won the 2017 Race to Dubai. I backed Austin Cook every ruddy week until his 90-1 RSM Classic triumph a month ago. There is no doubt about it and I am not ashamed to admit it – I am a chronic sufferer of premature tipulation.

The pain of this particular mishap was intensified by the fact I had backed the Joburg Open runner-up. I had £22.06 each-way (maximum allowed) on Erik van Rooyen at 80-1 with Sportingbet (quarter the odds, first five), along with £70 each-way at 70-1 with Stan James (fifth the odds, first six), £30 win-only at 70-1 with Stan, and a £150 press-up at 14-1 with bet365 after round one.

That little lot equated to winning 12 bags of sand if Van Rooyen could triumph. When Sharma's ball plugged in a greenside bunker after an errant approach to the 14th hole of round four, I fancied the bananas might be on Erik, but a ludicrously generous free drop resulted due to Sharma claiming his left foot was impeded by casual water. At that point, I casually waved the white flag of surrender. Van Rooyen finished three shots ahead of those in third place, but three shots behind Sharma.

The 12 bags would have been timely, with Help to Buy mortgage vultures circling and the wife's passion for new carpets reaching fever pitch, but the £1,513.26 place returns at least kept me in business. I had only one bet on the other tournament of the week – the QBE Shootout pairs event. My £400 on Brian Harman and Pat Perez at 15-2 with bet365 stayed alive for a long time, but they finished third.

It is time for reflection, with the golfing year coming to an end and Christmas looming, and I should probably be resolving to control my staking in 2018. I have arguably been over-staking in recent months, with increasing desperation for the mortgagespitter.

The constant soul-ripping provided by the leaderboard rollercoaster takes its toll, fuelling desire for the 'big one'. The prospect of spending another three decades chasing the mortgagespitter, reporting back to you guys every Sunday, scares me witless. Stakes are too bold as a result.

Take Thorbjorn Olesen for the ultra-competitive DP World Tour Championship last month, for example. I had £221.06 each-way at 40-1, spread across various firms, as well as £231 at prices ranging from 40 and 50 on Betfair. More than 20 bags were coming from an Olesen victory, but he spluttered to 36th place. A fortnight later, I had £200 each-way on Clement Sordet for the Mauritius Open, along with an extra £350 win-only. This is a European Tour maiden who opened at 50-1 and finished 50th. I must stop over-egging my puddings.

My World Championship Darts stake on Michael van Gerwen is pretty reserved in comparison to the chunks on big-price golfers. My arrers portfolio is short and simple. I had £562.50 (maximum allowed) on Van Gerwen at 4-5 with Sky Bet, and £2,000 at 4-5 with Hills. I also have £50 each-way on Adrian Lewis at 40-1, placed with Betfred in October, and £100 on a Van Gerwen versus Lewis final at a price-boosted 15-1 with Ladbrokes. My other interest is £25 (maximum allowed) on Michael Smith to win the second quarter at 18-1 with Sky Bet, and £35 at 16-1 with BetVictor.

Come on Mighty. Unload your might all over the Ally Pally oche. Revel in your superiority. No black bleedin' cats are required to get the trophy in your hands, champ. Unleash darting destruction!

I LOVE. . .

Making my daughter laugh. Forgive me for getting rather mushy as the festive season steps up a gear, but the highlights of my life these days are always the moments when I manage to make my daughter laugh. Not over-staking my bets and making Grace laugh more are two solid New Year's resolutions to work on.

This epiphany of sorts hit me while I was fretting over whether there had been any course changes at Royale Jakarta Golf Club since last year's Indonesian Masters. The wife needed to get something from a cupboard upstairs, so I went downstairs and pulled some funny faces and did some crazy waving while Grace waited in the car. It brought the ruddy house down. You don't need to be a comedy genius to make children laugh, but too many people are too grumpy or too distracted by work etc. to even try.

I LOATHE. . .

The Christmas card charade. My wife is a Christmas card machine, firing them out to all and sundry, a ruthlessly efficient conveyor of seasonal greetings. Any neighbour this side of Birmingham seems to get a card. All well and good – the wife loves Christmas and is eager to please – but I find the resulting immediate counter-cards hilarious.

At least give it a few days if you send one back in response, so it looks natural, and that you had been planning to give us one anyway. It is staggering how many of the neighbours smashed one through our letterbox within a few hours of getting theirs. One next-door neighbour was absolutely shameless, delivering her counter-card approximately five minutes after receiving hers. Oh, you were just doing yours, too? What a ruddy coincidence.

Christmas cards should be banned. Save the world.


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That little lot equated to winning 12 bags of sand if Van Rooyen could triumph
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