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I couldn’t resist taking the scenic route over the new bridge to Newbury as I had done yesterday before heading into the course for the Friday of the Bet365 Festival. Very impressive it is too, as was today’s card. That cracking card attracted a cracking crowd despite the gloomy weather. Given the crowd there didn’t seem to be much punting action in the opener, the Q Associates Juvenile Hurdle. The race went to Kasakh Noir trained by Dan and ridden by Harry Skelton which won as it liked by 16 lenngths a well-backed but not to lumps 4/1 shot.
Things livened up a bit in the ring in the next when Colin’s Brother attracted a bet of £3300 – £600 and £3000-£600 while Mon Successeur was backed from 7/2 into 11/4 including a £1750 – £500. All that stayed with the bookies when 10/1 shot Rouge Et Blanc proved to be too swift for the pair of them, a bookie-pleasing result.
I’d been tipped up David Pipe’s Gevrey Chambertin for the Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle (Series Qualifier) by a very respected source. I’d managed to get 18/1 into the morning so was delighted so see it go off at 11/1. I wasn’t quite so delighted to see it finish a never really in it seventh. Even less delighted were the bookies to see Warren Greatrex’s Missed Approach win the race backed from 7/2 into 5/2; bets struck included a £2100 – £600 and a brace of £1200 – £400 before plenty more at around the 5/2 mark, it didn’t just win either it hosed in. As I was bemoaning being on at big prices what looked like a Pipe coup that got away a racecourse regular told me in no uncertain terms ‘Avoid the Pipe horses, they aren’t right’. That told me then, I was a foolish punter, slapped wrist.
It was OK though, I’d also been tipped Harry Fry’s Activial in the next and was happy to have got on at a decent morning price only to see it collapse on course. 5/2 got smashed into 11/8 including bets of £2000-£800, £1150 – £500,£700-£400 and a topped off £1200 – £800. It was a good betting heat though, Maximiser was also backed 7/2 into 3/1 including a £1050 – £300, £2000 – £600 and £1200-£400. One firm on the rails also laid a £10,000 – £500 each-way L’Unique, it does make you wonder if the punter realised that with the non-runner only seven went to post. When Maximiser fell at the 11th it looked as if the Fry gamble had been handed the race on a plate, until it made a terrible rick five out. It never recovered and had to settle for runner-up spot behind another Skelton combination winner Three Musketeers. Armaloft Alex looked shaken after the race, not only had he done his dough on the jolly but had watched the race surrounded by Skelton fans. ‘It was OK until they started patting me on the back in celebration’ he seethed, yes that’s never nice, a real physical rub-down. Spare a thought too for the punter who staked a monkey each-way on L’Unique, yes of course, it finished third.
The bet365 Open Handicap Chase looked too tricky for the big backers with the betting 5/1 the field. One gaggle of punters did get involved backing David Pipe’s Monetaire which went off at 11/2. They can’t have been privy to the advice of the aforementioned racecourse regular. ‘Told you, avoid Pipe’s’ he repeated after the beast trailed in sixth. Nigel Twiston-Davies’ Little Jon won the race but at 6/1 was no good for the bookies.
Champers On Ice was well-backed in the penultimate Inkerman London Novices’ Hurdle with bets of £1000-£400, £1800 – £800 and £900-£400 just a selection of the lumps that were had on. It just held on to win at a much skinnier 2/1 from 8/1 shot Minella Awards. I looked out for the racecourse regular after the race but he was nowhere to be seen. I only hope for his financial well-being that he didn’t decide to get involved in a bit of amateur laying because he’s theory about a certain David Pipe’s horses ‘not being right’ proved a tad premature. If ever there was a stable never to underestimate or write off it’s that one.
I was delighted to get a notification that none other than Nicky Henderson @sevenbarrows had followed me on twitter @SimonNott, and also interested to read that he’d tweeted he was the new StanJamesRacing Ambassador. Maybe I should have taken that as a tip that 3/1 Buveur D’air would win the concluding bet365 ‘National Hunt’ Maiden Hurdle because win it did. One punter was on to the tune of £2400 – £800 and another at £1100-£400. There was a lot more staked on the 10/11 jolly Wait For Me though, several bets of a grand and monkeys at even money stayed in the hods when it could only manage second behind the Henderson gelding.
At least the favourite was beaten but some bookmakers had obviously gotten the winner in the book too. Armaloft sent me this picture with the legend ‘Brings a new meaning to Black Friday’. I really do hope he resisted the temptation to amble over to Martyn and ask if he’d managed to to ‘get that one in!’
(c) Simon Nott
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