The first person I saw on my arrival to the racecourse was Rupert Mackeson, ‘The Bad Baronet’ selling his books in the main stand. The well-spoken and genial gentleman has a history that might surprise you. Have a chat with him after you’ve bought a book. I’ve asked him several times when his own autobiography is going to appear. The answer to always the same, he needs to wait until a few people die! What I didn’t realise until I opened the racecard was that Rupert has just celebrated his 80th birthday, photographic evidence printed within. Many happy returns Rupert.
Down in the betting ring, Julian and the Goodwin team were betting from three rails positions. Two up on the top rail, Julian with Rondeau clerking on one, his son Ben on the other and John and Ross on the bottom rail. Jazz King was sent off the 8/11 favourite in the opening Molton Brown Novices’ Hurdle but try as they might the Goodwin teams couldn’t get it properly in the book. The bogie at the off was Paul Nicholls’ 10/3 chance Flemenstide with Bryony Frost on board, the most popular with the betting public. Even more so after the combination won with some ease. An odds-on shot beaten in the first and the firm a couple of grand down. Not the best start to the day’s business but another six races plus distance and forecast betting in which to turn it all around. Telf in the Goodwin office had better news, it had been mad busy there, he told me, ‘Jazz king was very popular early, subject of many multiples and singles, Flemenstide a great start.’
Next up the Ebony Horse Club Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase which boasted just three runners. While I’m here to promote the betting ring, I have to confess that it was rather quiet down there. A quick skirt around and word with a few other friendly firms confirmed that it was hard to take a bet at times. Up on the rails there was time to talk to a couple of old school layers about Jamie Reid’s new book on Victor Chandler, I’m only halfway through but so far it’s fascinating. The next time anyone has a bet with Sunderland’s, you can now do so in the knowledge that it’s founder had been a tail gunner on a bomber of the same name in WW2, and survived. Now that’s lucky, I’m guessing that’s why the Sunderland name was carried on as a moniker in the hope that similar fortune would follow. Well, they are still here too.
Back to the present, Jeremy Pass was sent off the 4/5 favourite and just had to hack around to win to complete a Nicholls and Frost double. Luckily for the book, once again the punters didn’t want to lay the odds so the winner was a small cop in the book. Sadly, nowhere near as much as they blew in the opener, but it was a step in the right direction with a cop in the book. News from Telf was ‘The field cutting up was not very handy at all, Jeremys Pass was a small winner, blue book across the board but was not a great race for takings however.’
The punters came out from whence they had been closeted to have a go in the Colts & Fillies Club Mares’ Handicap Hurdle. The eight-runner shape of the race was no doubt more tempting than the previous fare on offer. Martha Brae was sent off favourite but it was the 10/3 second-in Shantou Sunset which started the race as Goodwin’s absolute bogie losing a couple of grand. Turning for home it did look as if Philip Hobbs’s charge might do the business for his supporters but it was not to be. Fergal O’Brien’s 8/1 chance Tequila Blaze won the race under Paddy Brennan from 12/1 Jubilympics which collared the bogie close home for second, John was chuffed telling me that, ‘Saving us a nice few quid in forecast bets’ which of course was very handy. Good news from Telf too, he said, ‘There were some large bets running up to Get The Appeal, was one of the worst losers of the day, needless to say we were very pleased to see it beat. The winner Tequila Blaze was a fantastic result for the office the Paddy Brennan fan club were cheering it home’.
There were just six runners in the Chanelle Pharma 1965 Chase but looked a competitive race. For some inexplicable reason the punters just didn’t appear interested, or maybe because it was just too hard for them. For most of the lead-up where you’d hope betting would be spirited the bookmaker’s were just stood around looking at each other. Colin Tizzard’s Lostintranslation won the race at 4/1. Goodwin lost a the cost of a generous round of drinks in a very expensive pub despite the winner not being favourite. Telf told us, ‘MasterTommytucker was very popular, subject to another big multiple running up with Defi Du Seuil attracting late support, Lostintranslation was friendless in the market.’ Swings and roundabouts, swings and roundabouts!
Down in the betting ring the Goodwin team were getting to work on the race before the penultimate. Meanwhile I had a chat with Jamie Reid, author of the Victor Chandler book I mentioned earlier. Apparently there was a fair but that ended up on the cutting room floor through fear of litigation! I dared not ask. Back in the betting ring Rondeau told me that business had picked up a bit. The very warm favourite was Nicky Henderson’s Buzz but punters appeared happy enough to oppose the even money favourite. A punter waded in to Goodwin with a rouf, £400, in readies for Goshen at 4/1 which Julian was happy to toss into the hod in the hope he wouldn’t have to dig it out again after the race. He didn’t, Buzz won to the joy of jolly backers but also copped small in the book. Talking of joy, the people in the box next to my vantage point during the race were getting very animated, screaming in unison ‘Come on four’ where’s the joy in calling the number and not the name? No offence to greyhound aficionados. ‘Four’ was Guard Your Dreams, which finished third.
The penultimate Gerard Bertrand Hurst Park Handicap Chase was a busy but small betting race. The on-course book had Sky Pirate the bogie for plenty with Amoola Gold a taker, the rest of the field were winning at least a monkey. The latter had almost ruined my freelancing career as far as the Goodwin firm goes at the last meeting here. He was the bogie which got up to win on the line from an impossible looking position, cheered home by me, next to the boss. Luckily Julian is the forgiving type. It looked today as if history had repeated itself, Bridget Andrews appeared to have got up again in the last strides to deprive 11/4 favourite but winner in the book Before Midnight. But no, not this time, the photo revealed that he jolly had held on by a short head. Sadly, happy days were short lived, the on-course book might have nudged into the green but Telf’s news was less joyous, ‘Before Midnight was an awful result.’ That would have been made worse give that anyone who backed the runner-up in the office would have had their stake returned up to £100 as a free bet after the ‘Beaten less than half a length in chases’ offer was triggered.
The concluding Box4Kids Open NH Flat Race was run in dimpsy light but was a fair betting race. So much so that the last bet on the book, a carpet at 3/1 the eventual runner-up Dream In The Park left the ledger ‘overs’. That really was just as well as the 11/4 favourite Our Jester turned the race into a procession winning as it liked under Nico de Boinville, which would have ruined the day for many firms present. They’d be thankful for one thing though, Julian wouldn’t dream of walking among his losing brethren singing ‘Come on all of you, I’ve won again’ as my old boss Jack Lynn would have, bless him. The final figures on the day showed a win of over £1500 before exes.
That was just as well as it happens. The last message from Telf was a leveller, it simply read, ‘Our Jester was last nail in the coffin. A real day for the punters today.’