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Dublin Racing Festival - AK Bets - Saturday 3rd February 2024

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Buzzing! That was just on the plane from Bristol, there were familiar faces and plenty I didn’t know either but all evidently headed for Leopardstown the Dublin Racing Festival, hitherto known on this blog as DRF. The Luas was heaving too, last year’s festival had been rocking, this year’s promised to be even better. Incidentally, if you weren't lucky enough to be here if you don't already have an on-line account with AK Bets, now is a good time to open one. They have an offer on, here are the details, you can't go wrong, bet a score get a free score it's only until tomorrow so don't procrastinate get opening, UK and Irish based punters welcome.
There were several people who came to the AK pitch for bets early and to say hello, they included George, Barney, who I sadly missed first time around but he came back shortly afterwards, Andrew from Sweden and Jack, not Jock, sorry Jack it was the Newcastle accent and Kyle. It’s brilliant to be told that people read these blogs and enjoy them. Apart from me having the easy job of just writing about people working, the AK Bets team today were AK, Tony, aka AK senior, and Dave ‘Tidler’ on the top Tatts pitch with Dave ‘Gogglebox Ire’ O’Reilly and Graham Sullivan on the middle Tatts position. 
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There were reports of traffic jams on the approach roads such was the potential crowd, that might have accounted for business being a little slow on the opening Nathaniel Lacy & Partners Solicitors Novice Hurdle, when I say slow, I mean not too lumpy. The most popular bet early with the punters was Jetara the second-in behind 5/4 favourite Predator’s Gold. Bets included €1100 - €400 and €875 - €300. As I said, wagers were steady if not thick, but you never know what you are going to get, ‘€1000 on 4’ was called in late on to a punter with a bank card. That backer was on at 5/4 which was the last of the 'wrist' before a significant move for the jolly. Luckily AK had given Jetara the stripe earlier in the betting which was the bogie over €5000 at the off while Predator’s Gold was blowing a carpet.
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They often say ‘Willie’s in the bumper’, a less used phrase is ‘Willie’s 16/1 outsider of the four he saddled in the Novice Hurdle’. Well, that’s what happened, Dancing City won the race, the book copped €5500, Graham sprinted half the length of Tatts to say ‘Aye Aye’, a great start, maybe not for the punters though. Stephen with a PH and his pal James were still in good spirits, despite not having backed the winner, having been stuck in traffic they were just pleased that they'd made it to see the race. Between races UK punter Rob Kendrick came to say hello and show me his rugby team socks, my memory is terrible, does anyone know the team?
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Betting for the second heat the McCann FitzGerald Spring Juvenile Hurdle started almost as soon as the field passed the post, the bookies didn’t have many punters to pay. The drizzle had stopped so racegoers came out to try again. Early bets included €400 and €500 on 5/2 jolly Storm Heart, it was that busy if the joint hadn’t been so solid it would have been rocking, literally. At the off the AK had two bad losers for about €4000 a piece, Bunting, care mainly of a bookmaker’s hedge bet and just weight of money for the jolly. Once again it came up for AK Bets care of Willie Mullins, though Kargese winning at 7/2 would have been a less obvious 'result' but AK had kept it ‘a tick under’, I didn’t ask why, AK works in mysterious ways. It didn't stop Jack, not Jock and his mate below backing the winner with the firm though, well done lads.
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Dave and Tony got straight to work on the next the Goffs Irish Arkle Novice Chase, taking advantage of not having many to pay out. A punter asked if the firm took cards, indeed they did, he had €5000 on Marine Nationale at 8/13 which got the book started. Ex bookmaker John Bolton came up to say hello, like many people I spoke to today, it was his first trip over to the DRF from the UK, he had some great stories about the betting rings of old which I'd love to hear more of. I also met a young pro-punter named Seth, though he stressed that he wasn’t interested in an interview pre-empting the question, I must be getting predictable. He fancied the jolly here, AK didn’t appear to, he had it a loser, and even worse loser after laying an €800 - €1400 in the hole, making it €3324 bad in the book. Cards have replaced wads of notes for the bigger punters, which is handy it stops the bookies needing to carry loads of cash or offer them credit, so everyone’s a winner, well, hopefully not the punters of course. Il Etait Temps sprung a surprise obliging at 6/1 providing Willie with a treble and the bookmakers with a cracking result. Another Ei Ei, as some people say instead of Aye Aye was in order, at least from the layers. 
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Next up, a tough looking handicap the Race And Stay At Leopardstown Handicap Hurdle once again a punter wielding plastic rather than readies waded in, this time with €5500 - €1000 each-way Fine Margin. Now, I know regular readers will be fed up reading about them, but a fraction was available. 11/2 is 100/18 and offers top value to the punters if they know to ask. There was nothing else of note taken in the race where stakes were mostly modest. Maxxum winning at 28/1 justified the punters’ caution, it was another result for the ring. Next up, the race before the penultimate and the Irish Gold Cup, four runners and Galopin Des Champ the ‘carpet-on’ 1/3 favourite to make it four from five for Willie Mullins. Andy Henderson, ‘The Lodge’ on Twitter came over with face like a slapped arse, it’s funny that punters only come for a chat when they are winning. It’s always good to see Andy though, he’d had 4/7 this jolly early doors. AK had it winning €2500 in the book so it was OK to hope it would win to cheer Andy up. It did win, Andy was smiling again, he 'knew' and had the value, proper job.
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The penultimate Ryanair Handicap Chase was a far more competitive event on paper, they opened 4/1 the field for this 11 runner heat. As betting started a punter who introduced himself as Elliot came over for a chat, he was here helping celebrate his mate Bryce’s 40th, what a great way to ring in ‘life beginning’, happy birthday Bryce. Even better news was, they’d had a few bets with AK because they read the blogs. That’s the way guys, keep us all busy! As the lads tapped away a very nice chap came to the joint and pointed to AK exclaiming, ‘I like you, you opinionated motherf**ker!’ ‘Can’t argue with that’ was AK’s secretly quite chuffed response. I have to point out, probably pointlessly it's not everyone that backs favourites, during betting one of the punters I spoke to earlier came over again to say he’d had a good afternoon and showed me his ticket, luckily he hadn't backed his winner with AK. As a bookmaker you only need to lay one of these to ruin your book. It was a good bet, but spot the rick, 33/1 is 100/3…
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Anyway, back to the race in question, looking into AK’s book at the off, he had The Big Chap losing about €10,000, I thought I must have missed a bet but no, it was just weight of money, for some reason the punters had latched on to it. A blog reader James came over to say hello as the field set off, he didn’t tell me what he’d backed but I hope it was Madara as the UK raider bolted up under James Reveley for Sophie Leach at 4/1. The combination won to a roar from I assume the English contingent and copped a bit in the book to boot. Let's hope some other UK trainers decide it's worth supporting the DRF and bring a few over to take on the home team. While I was typing that sentence a ‘Mystery Punter from County Kildare’ showed me this winning ticket, he’d had it spark of with AK Bets, well done him, but not too many winners if you don’t mind. Hopefully his Mrs won’t recognise his hand, he didn’t want her to find out about his shrewd win, the rascal.  At this point I’d like to thank the kind chap that came over, shook my hand and welcomed me to Leopardstown, and all the other people I've not mentioned by name it really means a lot. 
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A Dream To Share opened a shade of odds-on in the lucky last the Donohue Marquees Future Stars (C & G) I.N.H. Flat Race but the first bet in the book was €6000 - €500 each-way Jeroboam Machin laid earlier in the day. It wasn’t a great start as Emmet Mullins gelding was a best priced 9/1 in the early skirmishes, but betting had soon become lively, the punters started to open their shoulders getting stuck in on the jolly, the ‘tips-on’ 10/11 which had been available for most of the market was an endangered species as the field went to post. AK had stuck his head above the parapet with even money and ducked it again after laying a salvo of grands which didn’t look so clever looking at 8/11 at the off but he was keen to get the jolly in the book. 
There's something I've learned during my time in the betting ring, punters who ask for monkeys each-way on 12/1 shots two hours before the race generally aren't guessing. If they aren't guessing, you should always follow them in. I honestly meant to back the winner Jeroboam Machin, yes, how many times have you heard a punter say 'I meant to back that' after a horse has won, yes of course it won.  I may make some of my living writing for bookmakers, but I'm still a bog standard punter! Well done that backer but as you can imagine it wasn't the result it might have been for the firm. Once the places had been taken into account, the winner, which still returned 12/1 took AK's book. On a normal day that would have been a bit of a stinger, but today it couldn't ruin what had been a cracking winning Saturday of the festival. Nobody's putting their arm up yet mind, it's not even halfway through. 
We're back tomorrow. Thanks for reading.
Don't forget, new customers, bet a score get a free score bet from AK Bets, the offer ends tomorrow, Sunday, click on the AK sign below and fill your boots. 
Simon Nott