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AK Bets at Punchestown Festival 2023 Friday

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Day four and I found myself at the sharp end on the rails pitch where they take bets from both sides. Dave O’Reilly was off marrying a happy couple so senior statesman Des was taking his place in corporate, AK senior and AK were in Tatts while Jamie, Dave Tyrrell and Graham manned the rails.

There’s about a two foot drop from the rails pitch to the floor, something to remember when hopping off during the day. Betting on the opening Hunters Chase was lively but not lumpy. There was bookies hedging money for Jet Fighter €2000 - €280 each-way while public money was on Fr Gillingansvoyge, Speaker Thomas and Happy Victory, all three losers €4000, €2000 and €4000 respectively. The former won, the book lost, bad start. That especially as the winner was a 25/1 shot and most of the ring were roaring it home.

Next up and the EMS Copiers Handicap Chase was a hectic betting heat, the rails was much busier than Tatts had been, but it is number one pitch so ought to be. Unsurprisingly the favourite Kilcruit was the most popular with the punters. The guy that had €150 each-way the first race winner reinvested €600 of his winnings on it. There was a real buzz about the place today, heaving with plenty of younger racegoers too, certainly the biggest crowd of the week so far. Between races ITV and RTE’s Brian Gleeson welcomed me to Punchestown, gentleman that he is. Back to the punting and at the off the book had one loser, Kilcruit losing €7000 if it won. It did win, the rest were nowhere. It was all going horribly wrong after three days when it could hardly have gone better.

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There’s nothing else to do after a double up of reversals than get your head down and stuck in. The trouble was, nobody wanted to bet the odds-on Impervious in the Mare’s Steeplechase. At the off the book held €5000 with the only winner the jolly green for €1800. The favourite went off an in hindsight very generous 4/5 given the way it won. The rot had stopped but there was still plenty to get back.

State Man was another odds-on shot in the Paddy Power Champion Hurdle, 2/5 and hard to lay early. Instead there were plenty of little each way bets for other horses though one guy did reinvest the €117 he had to come on the jolly then a punter came in with €1000 as they were going down. AK was also offering betting without the short one and laid a €3500 - €1000 Sharjah off the floor. The betting without option was almost as popular as straight betting. Apart from the bet already noted there was little for the short one. At the off Sharjah and Pied Piper lost €5000 each in the win book with Sharjah losing €7000 in the without book which was a hairy situation to be in to say the least. Luckily, State Man won as the form book suggested it would and Vauban chased him home. The two books combined copped €5000, I would call AK Lazarus but it was too soon.

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Between races Ben Head of Goodwin Racing was on course and came to say hello, always nice to see you Ben. The odds-on shots continued to slow betting down, this time Impaire Et Passe didn’t attract many money buyers at 2/7 in the straight book. The Without alternative was once again popular including a monkey bet on Champ Kiely at 4/7 but at the off it was High Definition the bogie in that market losing a grand just pure weight of money. The straight book was a similar pattern to the previous race, the favourite winning and High Definition the absolute bogie losing just over €4000. Looking down on the Tatts joint, the travelling Ethical Celebrant Dave O’Reilly was back from the nuptials and taking bets. Out on the turf the jolly did the business but High Definition finished runner up which wasn’t ideal. Once the figures had been crunched the race ended pretty much straight across between the two markets.

At last a proper betting race for the punters to Wade into, the Irish Daily Star Hunter Chase. The book held €8000 without a wager of any note. During betting, Denis @carvillshill on twitter came to the joint to say hello, a gentleman and well worth a follow if you use that platform. Dave T and team were kept busy and did well to get so much in the hod in relatively small denominations. It’s On The Line and Annamix were the two bogies in the book losing just over €3500 and €2500 respectively. It’s On The Line won the race to a huge roar from the crowd while the book did its orchestras, the pay-out roll looked like an Andrex advert.

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The penultimate was witness to what appeared to be an almighty gamble. J P McManus’ Sa Majeste was a top priced 4/1 chance this morning, then 5/2 on course before being banjaxed into 13/8 they laid a bet of €3500 at 7/4. At the the off it losing €13,700 in the win book. My old boss Jack Lynn used to say that to stand horses in books like that you needed a ring of steel. AK’s must be made of titanium. Monbeg Park won the race and returned the 15/8 second in but was original favourite. The runner-up was JP’s other horse in the race Spillane’s Tower, the book kept €9000 of what it took.

Needless to say Willie’s was favourite in the concluding bumper. Lecky Watson opened 2/1 but one of the first bets in the book was €100 each-way number two at 100/1. Questioned if that was the one the punter wanted he replied ‘Yes, they can win can’t they?’ So number two Bold Brook went into the book the early bogie. The next decent bet was €500 each way Quantum Storm at 9/2. That was quickly followed by €400 at the same price. Going into the last, the firm was still losing €3500 and had Quantum Storm losing €7200 at the off. Having stood it for that much it was a bit annoying to get it beat and the well-backed to modest stakes 14/1 winner Walk Away Harry take the book. That was made to feel even worse as the 9/2 runner-up Irish Panther would have won €5000. Still, it could have been much worse. The final score was the firm blew €3500 on what was the first losing day of the meeting and with all to play for on Saturday.

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We’re back tomorrow.

Simon Nott