The £10,000 July prize for the Tote Ten To Follow competition may have been wrapped up for several weeks now, but for our lucky winner, the news only dawned on him as we moved into September.
“I was away working in France for most of August, we were in a really rural spot and I wasn’t really picking up my emails, so I didn’t know I had won it until a couple of days ago,” monthly winner Gary Wilkinson told the Tote.
“I thought it was one of my mates winding me up to be honest. I saw the email and thought ‘oh yeah, of course I have’, and then it all began to sink in – so that was a nice surprise to come back to.”
It was only the final day of July that Gary and his brother Trevor, who operate a small building firm together based in London and who entered the competition jointly, secured the £10k triumph.
Final day triumph at Goodwood
Six Group 1 wins for the month, including bonus race successes for Love and Enable had put their Earl E Byrds 6 stable in a good spot, sitting second going into the Friday of Glorious Goodwood.
The difference for the eventual winners though, was that they housed the subsequent King George Stakes winner Battaash, whereas the monthly leader did not. All of this though, was news to Gary.
“We are a small family business, so we were heads down, just working away on this site work. Generally, my brother Trevor checks, but he was quite ill prior to going out to France, so it all went a bit by the wayside.
“I was reading about a couple of our horses, but I didn’t even think they were going to run, so thought that was just another blow out.”
End of a long wait for success
Of course, winning the £10,000 prize was a great success, but it was tinged with a small amount of regret that they did know what was unfolding at the back-end of the month.
“We were slightly gutted about [not knowing we were in with a chance], as it would have made it very exciting watching it,” said Gary.
“But when you’ve tried to win the competition for years, and we’ve been close a couple of times, it’s a nice surprise to come back to.”
A July points haul of 355.3 was impressive for a stable that housed just four of the 15 most popular horses in the Ten to Follow competition. That though, is where, according to Gary, many players often go wrong.
“The thing with the competition is that everyone has a chance, you just need the odd bit of luck, which is what happened to me in July.
“I think where a lot of the syndicate entries go wrong is that they play a lot of the top horses and they remove one, and replace them with another top horse. But you see it every year that not all of the so-called top horses oblige as the season goes on.”
Reinvestment the plan for prize
Once he has split the £10,000 prize with brother Trevor, Gary, who regularly enjoys a bet on the horses, has said his winnings will go towards future fancies on the racecourse, as well as some of his building work in France.
“I’ve always kept my gambling money separate from my other money, so it’ll probably just go into the funds for that.
“I’m trying to put a swimming pool out in France, so I’ll take a bit out of it for there. I had a couple of really big wins just before I went out to France, and have been spending it while I’ve been out there, so it’s nice to put some back in the coffers!”
The Tote Ten To Follow competition continues, with one more monthly winner to be crowned, with £10,000 up for grabs in September as well as the £64,452.50 overall prize.