It’s often said that racing is a sport of ups and downs, and that is none truer than when discussing June’s Tote Ten to Follow winner.
Michael Lloyd from Swansea, pocketed a £10,000 prize after naming seven June winners in his stable, MtoteEclipse6, but it wasn’t without drama.
After an impressive Royal Ascot, Michael knew that victory for Highest Ground at Haydock on June 24th would all but secure victory for the month.
“I knew I was a few points off the top after Royal Ascot and when I found out Highest Ground was running the Tuesday after, I listened to the race on the my phone in the garden,” Michael told the Tote.
“After the race I got up to walk back to my sun lounger and my knee gave up on me - I think I moved a bit too excitedly and ended up on crutches for the week! Highest Ground put me on lower ground actually!”
Incredible Ascot performance
Victory for Sir Michael Stoute’s colt followed a fantastic haul at the Royal meeting that saw Michael’s Ten to Follow stable bag six of the seven bonus races.
A bit of luck when it came to his selection process helped MtotoEclipse6 to a 353.33 points haul in Berkshire, thanks to wins from Circus Maximus, Lord North, Palace Pier, Stradivarius, Golden Horde and Hello Youmzain.
“I thought I’d pick six Royal Ascot runners, one for the Derby, one for the Oaks, an older horse, and then a wild card.
“I picked three or four selections for each of the Bonus Races, but as I only wanted to have 10 lines in the competition, there was no way of perming them all up as it would cost too much, so it was pure luck that I ended up with six of the seven bonus winners falling in my sixth line.”
Win is a long time coming
Our June winner is a long time veteran of the Ten to Follow competition, having played the game for the best part of two decades.
“I worked on the railways for 37 years and I started up a syndicate, nagging everybody in work and in the pub to all chip a fiver in so I could get as many lines as possible,” Michael explained.
“In previous years I used to get the Tote Ten To Follow book twice a year. It’s my birthday in April and my mother would always buy it for me for the flat competition, and then I’d get an early Christmas present for the jumps one. I’d spend hours going through the horses and the little essays about each one, on the train back and forth to Cardiff.
“I managed to get onto the leaderboard as was in the top 10 in 2004, but faded away in the last month or so.”
While he’s not claimed the overall success just yet, the £10,000 prize will certainly make up for previous near misses.
More points to come this week?
A big step towards the £64,452.50 overall prize could be made in the week ahead, with four of Michael’s stable in action at York and Newmarket this week.
Prize winner and injury causer, Highest Ground looks to have a leading chance in the Dante, while Franconia is strongly fancied in the Musidora Stakes.
Fast forward to Saturday and the sprinting pair of Golden Horde and Hello Youmzain will chase further bonus points for Michael in the July Cup.
A win over the weekend is likely to put the monthly winner back amongst the leaders of the overall table.
“I was disappointed I dropped down to 11th [overall], as only the first 10 were in the paper today! But I’m hoping to be back up there by the weekend,” Michael joked.
Thoughts turn to substitutions
We may only be four weeks into the competition, but with a transfer window open in August, Michael is already thinking about his strategy.
Players can make two swaps to their stable between the Goodwood Festival and York’s Ebor meeting.
For Michael, the type of horse he is after is clear.
“Looking at the bonus races I think I can disregard the Ayr Gold Cup and the Stewards Cup because to get a runner in the race is hard enough, let alone finding the winner.
“I probably need a St Leger horse, and I haven’t got Love or Enable, so I’d probably go for one of them so I have something for the Arc.”
Winnings half-spent already
Travel and holidays are on the agenda for Michael thanks to his £10,000 victory, and it’s a repeat of a fantastic family trip that is first in line.
“Myself, my partner, my son, his wife and two grandchildren went to Florida last year and it was mind-blowing.
“We said then we’d try and do it again two years later, so half of the money has been put aside for that.”
Michael’s hoping to spend the rest of his winnings on other trips, when the current situation around travel becomes more clear.
If his stable is able to compete for the big prize at the end of the season, no doubt even more holidays will be on the cards for the Welshman with a long history with the Ten To Follow competition.
Michael’s winning stable