It was glorious up on Haldon Hill when I got there early this afternoon. The sun was out and all augured well for a great afternoon’s racing. It didn’t take long for the crowds to pile in, sadly the same goes too for the clouds but it wasn’t going to spoil it. It was nice to see my old mate Badger back on course, he’d been on the missing list for some time. Back in the day he was a super floorman, sometimes managing to work for two bookies at once with neither being aware of the other. He could also spot a ‘scoop’ from one end of the ring to the other. Those days may have gone but he still obviously loves his racing and excellent to see him there, eyes to the floor.
I’m told that there had been a fair bit for money flying about for Y A Bon in the morning for today’s opener. The race itself was a very eventful one with some horses displaying Kamikaze tendencies with some terrifying jumps and duck outs. One resulted in jockey Dave Crosse being taken to hospital for precautionary X-rays, let’s hope he’s fine. The punters that had got the early-bird prices on Y A Bon did their money as it could only manage second behind 2/1f While You Wait, a bad start for the on-course layers.
The bookie that has no interest what-so-ever in Easily Pleased was betting today. He seemed a little highly-strung, obviously it wasn’t anything to do with the fact that the aforementioned horse was running in the third. He did seem quite interested in the race and would no-doubt have been quite pleased that the gelding finished a fine third at 12/1, if of course had had an interest, which he doesn’t, rather than just a passing bookie type sportsman’s one. That settles that then. Sadly for his and all the other bookies’ books on the track the race was won by the 3/1 jolly Daymar Bay.
Despite the excellent afternoon’s racing we were all enjoying not everyone was over cheerful. ‘Well that’s another race nearer the cemetery’ lamented one racecourse regular. His miserable comment prompted some incredulous frowning in his directing from those in earshot. Those frowns got deeper when he went on ‘My dad always told me to run up stairs when I see them just to keep fit, but he died aged 57′ By this time the atmosphere in the immediate vicinity was distinctly morose before one wag lightened the mood by chipping in to the 56 year old misery ‘I do hope it’s not hereditary!’ You could have sort of understood the chap had he been a bookie because Miss Saffron won the next race at 5/1, not the favourite but a popular choice on course.
Just when it looked as if the bookies were going to have to dig into their Cheltenham winnings the ‘results’ came to the rescue. Pertinent sprang a 22/1 surprise in the race before the penultimate which was a very welcome virtual skinner for the ring. The best was yet to come though, and it did so in the shape of Kevin Bishop’s Withy Mills who had the bookies cheering with a 50/1 stonker of a result in the actual penultimate. I know one firm who have been sometimes tucked up by a sharp young fellow who sometimes gets to the know the horses in that yard. Known only by the affectionate moniker ‘Ginger John’. I was almost too nervous to ask if he’d ruined their book near the off. Sadly for him but luckily for them he’d not been sighted that afternoon, though no doubt had he backed it and they had time they’d have followed him and topped up the bet for themselves too, such is his shrewdness. Maybe the winner was a shock for all, still it was a welcome one for the books.
The Hunters’ Chase was the final event of the day. I bumped into one of the lovely ladies of ‘Here Come The Girls’ that make up the syndicate that own Delta Borget. I enquired to the gelding’s chances. The lady just smiled a genuine smile and said that as long as he and jockey Leanda Tickle came back in one piece she didn’t care. She meant it too. By pure coincidence almost directly afterwards I saw my Great Uncle Bill, he was part of the group of old boys that owned Webberys Dream who they sadly lost to injury when falling at the last at Wincanton on Sunday. He was very stoic about their loss but the sadness was there to see.
There isn’t a fairytale ending to this story, but a happy one. Delta Borget finished a very respectable third at 5/1 behind the aptly-named Shrewd Investment who was sent off at 3/1, the 6/4 jolly having been pulled up. ‘We’ve had a good day’ beamed Graham on the number one pitch as he packed his gear up. Another one for the bookies then. Nasty.
(c) Simon Nott
I have written a book called ‘Skint Mob’ it is about bookies, punters and racecourse regulars and has been quite well-received. Here’s a revie
w from the Racing Post on Sunday 23rd March.
It’s available here on Amazon – Kindle and Paperback http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/0992755409/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_s7Ymtb0Y2BEBB