This is now the ‘live’ home of my blogs but the archive can be found here www.simonnottracing.wordpress.com
Those that watched the weather forecast and just wore their tweeds as I did could have been excused for thinking they’d made their first rick of the day. It looked a lot more like rain than Christmas but Carol Kirkwood and co got it right after a dubious start, it ended with us bathed in glorious winter sunshine. There’s the weather done, it’s sort of an habitual start. sorry.
The opening Harrison James And Hardie Novices’ Chase got under-way at mid-day. There was some spirited betting seen on the rails with all but the outsider of the six that went to post attracting ‘noted’ support. The race eventually went to Blaklion who’d attracted bets of £1600-£400 and £1750-£500 before being sent off 3/1 joint second jolly. I was foolish enough to mention that business appeared to be good. I was down near the bottom of the rail where Morley Taylor was betting. ‘It’s not bloody good down here’ he rasped, before adding, ‘Why would anyone walk down here to have 6/1 with me when they can have it up there’. I didn’t like to point out to MT that maybe if he’d gone 13/2 he may have had a taker. Instead, in diplomatic fashion I suggested that if he’d be a little more objectionable he might get more punters. After all, it’s a good ploy for a bookmaker to wind his punters up the wrong way. He’s not daft that Geoff Banks you know, the less they like you the more they want to tuck you up.
The next heat, the theracingunion.co.uk Exclusively For Students Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Chase was a much more competitive affair with 12 going to post and boasted 6/1 co-favourites of three. Big bets were rarer than hens’ teeth but Rocky on the rails confided that there were plenty of modest wagers keeping them busy. I didn’t double check with MT, I didn’t want to be the one to give him the hump, I don’t have an account with him! At the last it looked as if the ring would keep what they had taken with 25/1 Comeonginger clear. Then luck turned against him, when his rider lost his stirrup which no doubt accounted for another beast falling victim to the Cheltenham hill, the gallant long-time leader collared in a photo. The ring were gutted, but not all that gutted because 16/1 winner Lord Landen didn’t do them too much harm either. It must have been worse for some than others though, as the replay was shown on the big screen I heard one bookmaker whisper forlornly ‘Come on Ginge, win this time.’ This game can break hearts at times.
There was a false start for the CF Roberts Electrical + Mechanical Services Handicap Hurdle in which two horses jumped the first hurdle. The field for the 14-runner event were soon called back and sent on their way. There was some confusion as some people seemed to think that any horse that jumped a hurdle before pulling up was automatically withdrawn. Not true so it seems, which was just as well as one of them, Solstice Star won the race having been backed from 10/1 into 8/1. Some books withheld payment until the weighed in, just to be on the safe side. There had been decent money for A Hare Breath backed from 2/1 into 11/8 including £2000-£1000 and £1000-£500 several times. Third placed Kayf Blanco was no good at all for one layer who took a wager of £8500-£1000 each way. One interesting market move for those that like to keep notes, one off-course firm were keen to trim the price of the Alan Jones trained Secret Dancer which helped his price clip from 50/1 into 33/1, no smoke without fire and one for the future despite finishing last maybe?
A fire alarm blasted briefly before the Ryman Stationery Handicap Chase (Grade 3). It was soon silenced, a blurred photograph was soon circulating suggesting the culprit. I’m not saying anything, make your own minds up.
The race saw money for Vieux Lion Rouge sent off at 10/3 favourite after bets of £2000-£500 and £1600-£400. The Druids Nephew was also supported from 5/1 into 4/1 though neither saw which way 12/1 winner Aachen went. Armaloft Alex tipped it up when it won at Wincanton last time out though only to modest stakes. I got a text shortly after it won unchallenged today simply saying ‘We should have had more on last time’. Quite, oh the beauty of hindsight.
The bookmakers are learning to look at the inevitable cross country race on the card with trepidation. It’s long been the joke that it’s the race where they go around and around and around until the jolly wins. Except it happens so often that it’s stopped being funny. Luckily today’s Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase was an exception, though hardly really. Josies Orders won the race under Nina Carberry having been backed from 10/3 into 11/4, just a fraction bigger in price than 5/2 market leader Any Currency. Spare a thought if you will for the second row layer who laid a monkey each-way at 33/1 the third-placed horse Ballyboker Bridge, now that’s nasty though winning would have been a whole world of financial pain. The book in question was stoic and said that he’d told the punter he’d have to pay him by kite if it won.
The Citipost Handicap Hurdle saw floods of money albeit mostly modest sums for The Eaglehaslanded backed from 9/1 into 13/2. There was also decent cash for One Track Mind 3/1 into 11/4 including a £3000-£1000. The ring could hardly have written in a better result when 33/1 So Fine beat 66/1 According To Trev. The Eaglehaslanded may have been a tad unlucky to finish out of the money in fourth. The bookmakers allowed themselves a combined crow. That is most of them. I dared venture back to see Morley Taylor, he’d surely have cheered up by now. When will I ever learn. ‘They were the worst places possible for me’ he bellowed before adding ‘I lost more on them then I stood the favourite for’. Whoops. That result would have meant delight and an early Christmas present for £1.25 worth of Tote customers, the Placepot paid a record-smashing £91,774.50. Congratulations to Mystic Meg and pals for that win.
The lucky last, the British Stallion Studs EBF National Hunt’ Novices’ Hurdle (Qualifier) saw decent money for Drumlee Sunset backed from 13/8 into 5/4 including a £2500-£2000 and Baden which drifted from 4/1 to 5/1 despite bets of £3000-£600 and £8000-£2000. The bookies kept the lot when 4/1 North Hill Harvey won the race having drifted from 10/3 finishing off what can only be described as a cracking day for the betting ring.
There’s no doubt that tomorrow they will be hoping for a similar set of results, to read about what happens you’ll need to grab the next issue of Racing Ahead Magazine
This has been my last blog until after Christmas, thanks so much for reading. If you enjoyed it you may also enjoy my book Skint Mob written in a similar vein. It has had some nice reviews. It’s an ideal Christmas stocking for any racing fan even if I do say so myself, more details below.
(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.
If you’d like one you can buy a signed copy direct from me via paypal here
It’s also available on Amazon, Nook, Kobo and on Kindle.