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Friday has flown around so I thought I’d take a trip down to the Silver Ring and see what’s been going on where thousands of punters and around 95 bookmaking firms take each other on away from the grandstand. First on my list to visit was to Stoke on Trent bookie Keith Wakefield father of a friend of mine. He said he’d been enjoying the week but felt sure that there must be people on the gate giving racegoers a piece of paper with all the winners on as they come in. ‘If it isn’t Ryan Moore on the winner it’s Frankie Dettori’ he lamented.
Words that I’m sure bookmakers all over the country can sympathise with. One the plus side the weather was gorgeous and the people were pouring in, hopefully for a punt as well as a Pimms.
Mother and daughter team Jane and Lucy Hazell were looking resplendent on their pitch and said that business hadn’t been bad at all but could do with a couple more favourites beaten. No bookmaker was going to argue with that.
John Lee who stands under the name George Edwards echoed those words. Regular readers may remember that I mentioned the firm were living it up at the Derby meeting staying at a five-star Country Club, albeit with ‘cosy’ sleeping arrangements. John looked as if he didn’t know if he should laugh or cry when he told me they’d not bagged such salubrious digs for this meeting. ‘It’s in Ripley and just like Faulty Towers’ he admitted, before going on, ‘The guy came out to get our orders for breakfast this morning, one of my men asked for beans on toast. He brought toast out with our teas then five minutes later came and took back the couple of slices we’d not eaten yet and said he needed them to put the beans on!’. Oh dear it doesn’t sound great, let’s hope the exes reflect it.
Back up in Tatts Paul Metcalfe of the Pickwick-Bevan (Est 2015) firm also had a ‘staying over’ story. A lot of firms use this week as well as Goodwood to double up as family holidays so stay in better places than poor John Lee (who is anything but poor, ahh maybe that’s the secret). His firm who are like family but not really had the pleasure of staying in the same hotel as a bookmaker from their South-West area. I shan’t mention his name for reasons that will become apparent. Apparently this bookmaker enjoys a pint at night then without fail, publicly for reasons known only to himself, always takes a Viagra before retiring to bed. ‘It wouldn’t be so weird if he wasn’t staying on his own’ mused Paul with a slightly repulsed look on his face. Sidekick Ian added ‘I hope he leaves a good tip for the girl that does the laundry’. Ewww enough, at that point I made my excuses.
On the way back up to the main ring I bumped into Tony Styles who bets as Bob Stock and looked a immaculate in his morning dress. He’d been off for comfort sweets in anticipation of another hat-full for Ryan Moore. I didn’t relate the Bevan story, he’s to much of a gentlemen to inflict its sordid images on. Sorry for telling you dear readers but a story is a story.
Talking of stories Peter O’Toole was having a chuckle to himself. He mused that after reading that Star Sports had been laying bets to lose £100,000 he have thought they could afford some marker pens rather than borrow them off him. He didn’t mind helping out of course, and thinking of it maybe laying those bets is why they had to use his!
Gossip and small talk over, first up was the Albany Stakes where the ring could breathe a sigh of relief that their nemesis Ryan Moore didn’t have a mount. 18 went to post in what looked a very competitive race. Maybe that accounted for what appeared to be relatively light business. If that assumption is correct the big layers dodged a bullet when 4/1 favourite Illuminate started the day well for jolly-backers under Richard Hughes. The biggest bet on the winner I heard of was a £9000-£2000, but a winning favourite is a losing race for the majority of boomakers so a bad start.
The King Edward VII Stakes saw only seven go to post and was a tight betting race. Stravagante was sent off the 11/4 favourite with Balios snapping at his heels for that mantel at 3/1. Sadly the jolly was pulled up while Balios won well under Jamie Spencer. There was rumour that one firm laid £105,000 – £30,000 the winner, that would have been very nasty indeed with four races to go. That punt aside the first two races hadn’t really come alive betting-wise but The Commonwealth Cup saw the ring ignite. There were noted bets for half a dozen horses including a £100,000 – £40,000 and £45,000 – £20,000 Ryan Moore’s mount Hootenanny and that after early birds got £15,000 – £5000 and £6000-£2000. Tiggy Wiggy also attracted good money including a couple of each-way £3000 bets as did Limato at 6/1 and 5/1 before being forced in 9/2. The punters on the latter got the place money for finishing runner up but the bookies copped the rest after the victory of 10/1 Muhaarar. That is of course apart from the firm that laid £11000 – £1000 each-way the winner, someone always has to run into one but the result was generally a good one for the ring.
Seemingly not deterred by the recent defeats proving that Ryan Moore is in fact a jockey and not Superman the punters waded into to his mount again in the Coronation Stakes. Found was lumped on to the tune of £30,000 – £16000 and £45000-£24,000 as well as a multitude of lesser chunks before being sent off at 13/8f. At the furlong pole it looked as if Moore was going to bag another winner and the bookies feared the worst checking how long the figures in red next to its name were. Then, a Gallic saviour came to do the jolly on the line, 3/1 French raider Ervedya under a prefect ride from Christophe Soumillon. Of course at that price the winner wasn’t un-backed, far from it, several grand bets were laid in the ring but getting Ryan Moore’s beaten would have ensured a winning race for the books.
Race by race it was beginning to sway the way of the betting ring again. The penultimate Duke Of Edinburgh Stakes was a competitive handicap with Ryan Moore’s mount Dashing Star and Richard Hughes’ Arab Dawn sent of 6/1 joint-favourites. Once again the punters were keen to bet Moore’s mount. The firm that laid £30,000 – £5000 each-way must have been delighted to see it out with the washing. The trouble was Hughes bagged his double when Arab Dawn won the race, somebody had a £30,000 – £5000 each-way that one too. The same punter and the same bookie? Sadly I wasn’t placed to find out. The majority of firms probably wouldn’t have had the winner for the Bank Of England but wouldn’t have won on the race either. Lucy Hazell had told me that she was going to go all out for Continuum but sadly for her it was nearer last than first.
The concluding Queen’s Vase saw yet another favourite with Ryan Moore on board this time Aloft. People tend to have short memories in racing, after a blank afternoon it was a case of Ryan who rather than off-course money piling into the ring and lumping on at any price. Aloft (surely named after my prematurely celebrating mate Alex) was aloud to ease slightly from 9/4 to 5/2. Bantry Bay was solid at 3/1 while Great Glen and Yarrow were clipped in to 5/1 from 6/1 and 13/2 from 7/1 respectively. My mate Andrew Mount had advised me to have a shilling each-way on his fancy Tommy Docc this morning, which I did. Inside the final furlong there was a serious danger of me losing my voice as it looked as if the 33/1 shot might just prevail, shout as loud as I did I was drowned by the cumulative voices of the betting ring willing him and Phillip Makin home. But it was not to be, he left it late in the day but at the line it was Ryan Moore on Aloft that proved 1/2 a length too good for the field.
As the dust settled it transpired that one firm laid a bet of £100,000 – £40,000 the winner in the hole. Trying arbing that lot on the exchanges those that belittle the betting ring and those that do battle in it.
There’s one day to go but this is the last blog of the meeting from me. Thanks to everyone who’s read them this week, comments most appreciated. If you came here via me spamming myself out on twitter and enjoyed the read please give me a re-tweet. Many thanks.
I promised I wouldn’t mention it, but you know that novelty market I’ve been leading on all week. Today’s was yellow and backed from 3/1 into 1/2 – the last bet £100 at bottle on. They know I tell you, they KNOW!
(c) Simon Nott
My book ‘Skint Mob – Tales From The Betting Ring’ is a book about the bookies, punters and other wonderful characters I have met in my time on racecourses. There have been some nice reviews.
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