Place your bets…

English: 2011 Grand National

English: 2011 Grand National (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of the charms of a friend of mine is that he talks complete nonsense. He is like a breath of fresh air in any kind of discussion, because he always brings a completely different (and usually hopelessly wrong) point of view. He is almost a hedge fund of conversation. His nickname is Goober, and we term the nonsense that comes from him Gooberish. Very occasionally, when the planets align or during a solstice, Goober will start to suddenly become more lucid for a short while and start to make sense. This is the time when alarm bells, klaxons & buzzers should start going off in your head, because he is invariably still talking nonsense, but somehow, you’ve been taken in.

I remember one such occasion coincided with the Grand National. The Grand National is the biggest race in the UK horse racing calendar. People who spend their leisure time following races and having the occasional flutter tend to avoid the Grand National like the plague, but for a large proportion of the population, it represents an annual opportunity to have a go. The romance associated with the Grand National suggests that any horse can win the race. I would amend that and say “any horse not backed by me”. I’ve never won, apart from one year, thanks to something we now call Goobernomics.

Goober, in one of his rare articulate moments, persuaded us that the way to win on the National was to place a small each way bet on every horse in the race. He argued, successfully, that there were very few horses with odds of less than the number of horses in the race, and in fact, the vast majority had odds that were higher. Foolishly, we all followed his logic and handed over a big pile of cash. Goober disappeared out the door and the next time we saw him, he had a fist full of betting slips and a big grin.

As ever, we watched the race, confident in the fact that whatever happened, we were going to win. The race ran its course and the leaders crossed the line. If I remember correctly, there was even a photo finish to determine one of the places, but we didn’t care. Thanks to Goobernomics, we were guaranteed to win. We were busy congratulating ourselves and we nearly missed the bit where they flash up the winning horses so that there is no doubt over who came where. We started rifling through the betting slips looking for the leading horses that had come in first, second, third and fourth. As we assembled these betting slips, the awful realisation dawned on us that three of the top four horses had very short odds. We quickly did the sums in our heads and realised that we had lost.

I seem to remember that we got 33p for every pound we had bet. The power of Goobernomics.

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