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AK Bets at Punchestown Festival 2023 Thursday

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The day started unusually, as well as being a very personable on-course bookmaker’s assistant and greyhound commentator Dave O’Reilly is an ethical celebrant. He’s missing the racing tomorrow to marry a couple in Tipperary. With that in mind he had a bit of a practice wedding on Des and I before racing, hands on hands and all it was a beautiful service but I can’t see it lasting between us.

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AK was back at the helm today and ready to roll buoyant after two winning days out of two, keen to make it three. The teams were as before Dave O’Reilly up in corporate, Dave Tyrrell, Jamie, Graham and Des on the rail with AK and AK senior in Tatts. The firm started betting on the first about an hour before the off, the forecast rain was yet to appear.

We’ve been crowing a bit this week so it was probably inevitable that a result would eventually bite us. The AK firm didn’t have to wait long, it was in the opener, The Specialist Group Handicap Hurdle. Broomfield Bijou beating By Your Side cost about €2000 a millimetre assuming two and a half millimetres was the winning distance. A nasty start and €5000 down. It had begun so nicely too, after Des and my ‘wedding’ the Lovell Brothers of Dragon Bet who are top men came over to say hello. Luckily it was before, not after the race when things weren’t quite as jovial behind the joint. One guy drawing his winnings wanted to be mentioned in the blog but didn’t leave his name, but you’re in!

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Next up the handicap steeplechase and the punters were full of confidence and came piling in. The trouble was they all wanted to be on the same horse, Douglas Talking which at the off was losing over €11,000 in the book. AK was pacing up and down behind the joint as the bogie led and was going well. As it jumped the last clear, he spun away from the big screen wearing the face of a man that had just done over €11,000. As he pirouetted Dinoblue found second, third and fourth gears in rapid succession and sped past the bogie to win. I wish I’d been able to capture the moment on video, it would have gone viral. Plus €3000 from minus €11,000 in a couple of AK strides and a few more of the horse’s. The winner returned the 11/4 favourite, popular with the punters and fairly well liked by AK Bets too. Racecourse gold.

One of the first bets in the third, the Mongey Communications Cross Country chase,  was from Adam, he wanted to make the blog. Having reinvested some of his winnings he was a shoe-in to make it in. Happy to oblige Adam. Betting on the rest of the race was brisk with a couple of UK bookies getting their betting boots on betting with the fractions too. At the off the book was more conventional with 7/4 favourite Stealthy Tom the bogie for €3100 with a couple of takers. There was also plenty of bookmaker hedging on the same horse around but not with AK Bets but you can assume someone lively was on. It was nearly the reverse of the last race, Vital Island, winning plenty for the firm jumped the last in front but his stride began to shorten as Stealthy Tim bore down on him but luckily he had enough in the tank to hang on by a neck. The firm were back in the game after the reality check of the first and lucky escape of the second.

The feature of the day and the half way point of the meeting was the Ladbroke Champion Stayers hurdle. The two they wanted to be on were Klassical Dream and Monkfish, betting was punctuated by a sprint to the rails from Tatts for a till roll, only to find on my breathless return they’d found one. The last time I ran that fast from a standing start I did a hamstring playing rounders, not this time. Result. The other result was that the forecast rain still hadn’t arrived. The actual result wasn’t so great. One small gripe about the viewing here is that the big screens are quite far away so you have a job to see them. In the tight finish that concluded the feature, and being a short arse not helping, I couldn’t see or with the crescendo of the crowd hear a thing. 3/1 joint favourite Klassical Dream had won in an apparently thrilling finish and the book was back in the mire having blown €5000 on the race.

The Conway Piling Handicap Hurdle was lively. Bets included £10,000 - £300 each-way Dartan and a bookie’s hedging money a monkey each-way Charles Byrnes’ Grozni at 15/2 the highlights with plenty of horses backed. At the off there were three bad losers in the book, Walking On Air for €6700, Grozni for €7000 and Dartan doing €6700. The race went to 12/1 winner and English raider Kilbeg King which copped around €3000 in the win book, the place book losses knocked that bandy but was still just a winning race.

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The race before the penultimate the Barberstown Castle was pretty much a non-event with just four runners and El Fabiolo long odds on. AK also offered betting without the favourite which proved popular in which Saint Roi was the favourite in that market at having laid €1200 at 11/8 and £400 at 5/4. El Fabiolo won as expected at 1/4 but Dysart Dynamo finishing runner up was very handy and copped an unexpected four figures getting a few more Euros back in a race where a lot of firms were stood around twiddling their thumbs.

The penultimate Close Brothers Mares Handicap Chase was back to competitive racing where they bet 5/1 the field. During betting on the race Frankie from #Raceday.rtv came to the joint spoofing us trying to bet with some Czech money, sadly not currency AK trades in but it should be fun if it makes their Instagram account! There was something else too, what happened to all the forecast rain? If weather forecasters bet you’d want to open an account for them, the deluge hadn’t been sighted. The Tatts pitch was noticeably quieter but up on the rail those heroes had the busiest race of the day. The upshot being that at the off they had Queen Jane losing €9000 and Lilith €7000. There was plenty of drama in the race, the absolute bogie Queen Jane came with a winning looking run only to come down at the last. Indie Belle went on to win the race in what can be only described as a lucky winner out on the turf and in the book.

Ballyburn was the favourite of Willie’s handful in the bumper opening a shade of odds-on. It looked as if it might be the right one too judging by the trade money around the ring for it but they left AK out. The race never really picked up and the punters didn’t show much interest in the race. At the off Slade Steel, Henry de Bromhead’s not Willies’, was the bogie for €2000 and the jolly losing a carpet. Ballyburn won with some ease as the market and the trade business seemed to anticipate. The firm ended the day on a losing note. But did they? Ethical Celebrant Dave O’Reilly called, the corporate clients hadn’t read the script and left the favourite out. He copped €1400 on the race, what a guy, so it was a concluding Aye Aye after all.

After a disastrous start followed by a mixture of good luck and judgement the firm made it three winning days out of three. They tell me the big punting day is tomorrow, as for the weather, your guess is as good mine!

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Simon Nott