What a difference a day makes. Glorious winter sunshine greeted me as I arrived at Leopardstown for...
AK Bets - Leopardstown Paddy Power Chase Day 27th December
The day didn’t start well, no, it wasn’t the 4am alarm or the delayed and ultimately hairy flight buffeted by high winds. No, worse than that, a young lady offered to give up her seat for me on the airport bus. And no, I didn’t accept, I stood there bolt upright doing my best to look younger. It was very kind of her though. I put it down to the gentleman of the turf clobber of course, after all I'm still in my prime.
It was excellent to be back at Leopardstown after an absence of 10 months. I got the bus from the airport. Every 15 minutes if you are coming over for the DRF in February. Very handy and less than €20 return. The traffic outside the racecourse was chaos which augured well for a good crowd but meant I only made it with 10 minutes to spare before the 12.05 opening heat The I Have No Idea What Day It Is Maiden Hurdle. I had just enough time to say hello to the team, AK the boss, Tony ( AK senior ) Dave ‘Gogglebox Ireland’ O’Reilly, Dave ‘Tidler’ Tyrrell and Graham before the field set off. ‘Anything but the six horse’ AK informed me. Needless to say, when the 10/1 six horse, Intellotto quickened to jump the last in front then win going away, it wasn’t the best start. To be more accurate about how bad a start it was an over €5000 bad start. It could have been worse, the firm laid €50 each-way a 150/1 chance, luckily it wasn’t the 150/1 runner-up Lucy Wang but eighth placed Giselles Defence SP 125/1 come racing.
Next up and the chance to get some back, Marine Nationale opened 4/6 for the From The Horse’s Mouth Podcast Beginners Chase. The bookmakers’ antenna were buzzing when AP McCoy and Justin Carthy were spotted apparently perusing the prices down in Tattersalls. Despite the layers bracing themselves for a ultra shrewd market move, they vanished no business done, before I could ask for a selfie too! The ground was described as heavy and didn’t look like it could get a lot heavier and still race, traditionally bookmakers favoured conditions for form book turn-ups so maybe a day to take on whatever the punters wanted to back. The business was brisk but fairly modest despite the short one on offer. At the off the bogies were Firm Footings and Ho My Lord with the bottle on favourite Marine Nationale winning over €2000. This time the unorthodox book paid off, the jolly won, the book copped and thanks to an astute €450 each-way bet on third placed Walk With Paul at 25/1 by AK all was straight across and all well with the world again. Having said that, Walk With Paul jumped the last a clear third but only just hung on to stay in the money. That one getting caught really would have been a rubdown.
The third heat was the Grade 1 Rewards Club Chase with the sure to be popular with the drinkers, Captain Guinness the early 7/4 favourite. The rain had become heavier whipped up by potentially mush busting gusts of wind which made it pretty hard for the guys to work and call people in to bet. The punters are a hardy bunch here but the weather conditions didn’t help business at least not on the top pitch. Graham and Tidler reported they were doing good tickets at their position in front of the stand almost opposite the tunnel entrance. Meanwhile down the line Tony and Dave O’Reilly had to utilise a towel to help protect the printers from the rain, it was a great idea but, I have no idea where they got it from either. This time the book was more traditional, Captain Guinness, supported into 6/4 but not to any real lumps and the outsider of the field and 16/1 Saint Roi backed by optimists, were the two losers as they set off. Captain Guinness was very disappointing and pulled up before two out without ever looking like winning. Dinoblue, the 'top of the head' 9/4 second in was first home of the three JP McManus finishers and copped just under a grand in the book. That put AK bets back in front after three heats and a disastrous start. It was later announced that the vet had found the jolly to have been ‘clinically abnormal’ which would explain his poor run, but not much else.
Meanwhile, the weather was miserable, rain and wind aren’t an ideal combination for attracting punters out of the warm bars. ‘It’s decimated business’ was AK’s observation, though the guys in both pitches were doing their best to field some money. Pretty much the first bet in the book for Future Champions Novice Hurdle was €2000 - €400 each-way Down Memory Lane, which set the scene for the race. The favourite Daddy Long Legs was very weak drifting from 7/4 to 5/2 while the public interest was for the former, thrusting soggy notes at the lads at all rates down from 5/1 into 5/2. The race can be described as one of attrition and did go mainly the way of AK's book. The 6/1 winner Caldwell Potter was a €1000 winner in the ledger, six lengths clear of 4/1 Predator’s Gold. I say mainly, because plodding on gallantly through the mud 38 lengths back in third was Down Memory Lane to land the place money which really did take the shine off the race. The 6/4 to 5/2 drifter Daddy Long Legs was pulled up two out, they're like Mystic Meg these punters sometimes.
The rain eased up a bit for the race before the penultimate the Who Put The Wrappers Back In The Box Handicap Hurdle where they bet 4/1 the field with Fortunedefort and Conyers Hill installed the joint-jollies. Down in the middle of Tatts Dave’s old mates from Shamrock Rovers were having it on with him and Graham, but sadly not in footballers wages sized bets. Back up on AK’s top pitch business was steady as the rain relented. With about five minutes to go before off time, the crowd in the stands burst into song, what seemed like hundreds of them. I thought they must have spotted Dave Tyrrell and were paying homage to their hero ex-player. But no, Dave told me they were singing, simply because they’d had a beer or two and that’s what they do. Fair enough, they were in fine voice. The entire crowd appeared to be on the winner and ultimately 4/1 second favourite One Last Tango. What a cheer went up, maybe it just sounds louder when the winner for the punters is a loser in the book. It wasn’t too bad a loser to be fair but a loser none the less, another step back for a cold and wet AK.
Disaster struck just before betting on the 29 runner Steeplechase, not just because it appeared the sponsors had run out of witty names when it came to the big one, but computer trouble. It was extra annoying for the team as the rain had stopped and the crowd appeared keen to get stuck into what looked like a fiendishly hard handicap where they bet 13/2 the field. Dave Tidler got to work on the computer and got things running again in no time, it must have been the singing from the stands that boosted him, just like the old days. Once up and running again, the one the punters latched on to was Panda Boy including a bet €2000 - €200 each-way in a busy but mainly modest staking race where they weren’t lumping on. In a race with such big prices it doesn’t take long for liabilities to mount up. Almost at the off Panda Boy was a loser for over €9000 and Fakir Dalene for €3000. Just as it looked like the book was set a bet of €3000 - €420 made Meetingofthewaters a loser too. That’s 7/1 with the fractions if you didn't know, come racing. As the field set off on their three mile journey, with the second last omitted due to low sun, yes it had brightened up, the singing started again. ‘This singing at the races is a new phenomenon’ observed Gogglebox Dave. Sadly for bookies, doing your money at the races isn’t. The last decent bet in the book, 7/1 with the fractions about SP 6/1 chance Meetingofthewaters won the race which was gutting. Having said that and always looking for a silver lining though that was a favourable result compared what it would have been had the runner-up, the absolute bogie Panda Boy won which would have cost about €12,000 with the places. Small mercies, but the winner was still blew €1200 with the places, another losing race.
That left just the bumper at 3.35 to conclude. Willie Mullins only had one in the race, Joystick, which unsurprisingly opened 6/4 favourite as I don't need to tell you who the punters tend to go for in the bumper. Business wasn’t as busy as you’d expect, even though everyone knows Willie’s wins the bumper, which it did again today. Joystick didn't get it all its own way though, it was a proper race race with Arctic Lane until half way up the final furlong, the latter even trading odds-on in running before the jolly found another gear going on to win nicely. Willie’s actually copped €75 in the win book but that was wiped out by a monkey loss on the places over the runner-up, a result which summed up the mood of the day really.
After all the numbers had been crunched the book lost €1900. It wasn't quite that bad as AK won €2000 with his personal punting. Not great on a busy day where you hope to get the wages not lose money after exes. Still, come on let's be positive with two days to go, it's far from over yet. I foolishly waited until after the last to get poor AK to pose for a blog photo which was in hindsight a schoolboy error. As you can see, just coming out of the other side of a Christmas cold and frozen wet he wasn't overly keen, but is a trooper and posed for one sort of, asked to sum up the day he told me ‘Today was whole lot of work for nothing’.
You can't argue with that. We're back tomorrow. If you are coming racing come and see us, at the rails end and middle of Tattersalls. If you can't get to the races and haven't already, you really should think about opening an account with AK Bets, bet on line or on their app. Click on the AK Bets link below to open one and attempt to make him look as miserable as he does above, every time you have a bet
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Thanks for reading.