Buzzing! That was just on the plane from Bristol, there were familiar faces and plenty I didn’t...
Dublin Racing Festival - AK Bets - Sunday 4th February
Day two started with another cosy journey on the Luas, it was packed with racing fans, some it has to be said appeared a little worse for wear. Not me though, I had two, OK three pints of Guinness in the hotel bar and was in bed by 10. Not very rock n roll am I? You should have seen me in the 1990’s ha ha but those days are gone. Anyway, smugness over the AK teams were unchanged from yesterday. Tony, AK and Dave T at the top pitch and Graham with Dave O' in the middle of the betting ring. Yesterday had been a cracking day for the book so it was hoped the winning momentum would roll on. The opening Irish Stallion Farms EBF Paddy Mullins Mares Handicap Hurdle (Listed) was a tricky one for the punters to kick off with but find the winner and they’d be off to a great start. One punter certainly wanted to kick his day off having €150 each way at 28/1 Belle Of Annandale. This blog is a fractions free zone today, but he should have asked for them. I had a visitor from close to home come up and say hello during betting, Neil Matthews from Torquay who is mates with many of the local South Devon bookies. Thanks Neil.
The first race was a little quiet, which given the nature of it wasn’t unexpected. But there were punters who’d pop up and surprise the firm from time to time, a late €6000 - €500 each-way bet on Media Naranja being one. At the off there were four losers in the book. The two that attracted the lumps plus there had been steady money for Foxy Girl and Broomfield Bijou so it was those against the field. Not many ever got into the race,18/1 Minx Tiara made a gallant effort to make all, her stride only began to shorten after the last where she was reeled in by 20/1 chance Bruico. That would have been an excellent result had Media Naranja not finished just in the money fourth. The winner wasn’t unbacked either, blog reader David was on and backed it with AK. Well done, that man.
Next up and the Novice Steeplechase worth €150,000 had been reduced to a match between Gaelic Warrior and Fact To File priced 4/7 and 6/4 respectively. AK decided to bet on the following Tattersalls Ireland 50th Derby Sale Novice Hurdle at the same time. The teams are professionals and took it in their stride. Some of the bookmakers but not AK had added a third option, ‘No finishers’. The last time I saw that I was at Eggesford Point to Point in the late 1990’s when I was working for Dave Phillips. He went 50/1 which the punters snapped up. Disaster struck, the jolly fell at the first and shortly after the other runner unseated and ran into the woods. They’d caught the favourite but the jockey couldn’t remount despite Dave’s request because he’d dislocated his shoulder!
There was no such drama here but only Fact To File finished though he had already beaten Gaelic Warrior when he fell at the last. The book lost €2000 but AK didn’t really want to get too involved with a race of that shape. Between heats the firm were treated to chocolate laced banana bread baked by Dave T’s girlfriend, very nice it was too. I got coffee and tea for the lads out behind the stands, disaster struck, I kept hold of the hot bevvies but there was a gust of wind so strong that full pints on tables literally went flying. One chap was definitely lucky he’d worn his anorak or he’d have been soaked, the loss of all the beer must have been costly too!
The banana bread over the team got to work on the third, Ballyburn was ‘tips-on’ 10/11 for much of the race but sporadic evens was snapped up by stealthy punters. The second-in Farren Glory was also popular, bets included £4000 - £1000 and €2000 - €500 each-way. With very little else backed the book was a traditional up the front two the jolly losing nearly €3000, the second in half of that but plus the place liabilities. Ballyburn won easy as it liked and the firm did their money in style though Farren Glory unplaced saved a few quid.
Next up and the Dublin Steeplechase where El Fabiolo was opened up the 4/11 favourite. While team AK were bracing themselves for lumps from money-buyers blog reader and very friendly chap Diarmuid came over to say hello and that he enjoyed the blog, it always makes my day. I’d never met Diarmuid before but it was a pleasure. Also at the pitch were Paul and Rachael Wing who are familiar faces, be it Towcester dogs, Newton Abbot or Cheltenham you might bump into them, it’s always very nice to see this proper sporting couple who love their racing.
Looking for big odds-on backers today wasn’t as fruitful as yesterday. The punters had two short-ones to choose from on the board as AK had also priced the 2.45, the Chanelle Pharma Irish Champion Hurdle where State Man was 1/3. A punter did wade in with a grand, but wanted €5000 - €500 each-way Gentleman De Mee in the Dublin Steeplechase. Try as they might, the team couldn't find a backer for the favourite. AK, no stranger to lopsided books didn’t like this one at all because it had been out of his hands. The front two in the betting were both winning but not by design. You have to take the lucky breaks in this game, 4/11 favourite El Fabiolo won with Gentleman De Mee unplaced so an unintended cop in the book. The punters did get involved backing State Man at 2/5 with a couple of grands and a monkey at the price. The business was nowhere near as good as it been yesterday, so much so that at the off Bob Olinger was the only loser in the book losing over €5000 despite the biggest bet on him being about a score, no strength in depth in the betting. State Man veritably bolted up and copped a round of drinks in the book.
There couldn’t have been much bigger a comparison in races than next up the ultra competitive 25-runner O’Driscolls Irish Whiskey Leopardstown Handicap Chase. A very well respected rails bookmaker kicked the betting off having €2500 - €500 each-way the favourite James Du Berlais. The punters came out of the bars and also got involved, they had been here all along but just wanted a race to get stuck into. They, well the bigger punters, only wanted to be on James Du Berlais, another €500 each-way was taken but this time at 9/2. Those were the bigger bets but the field money totalled over €11,000 but with James Du Berlais losing €10,000 with Percival Legallois and Good Time Jonny both also four-figure losers in the win book. Luckily the race went the way of the firm 6/1 chance Heart Wood won by 14 lengths and they copped €2600. The cop could well have been fortuitous, one of the two last fence fallers was bad loser Percival Legallois which AK was sure would have won.
The penultimate Timeless Sash Windows Handicap Hurdle was another fiendishly difficult looking race where Bialystock opened 11/2 but took a drift. As often happens, as the guys were tapping away fielding mainly modest bets and punter made them jump betting €6000 - €1000 Magical Zoe. That bet brought her into line as a loser with So Scottish which was already a hefty loser due to weight of money. That was topped up by a bet of €3000 - €500 the same horse from a punter wielding a card late on. At the off So Scottish was the bogie blowing just under €7000 in the win book with Magical Zoe losing €5000. Between the last two hurdles a roar went up from the crowd when So Scottish hit the front, then it looked as if Magical Zoe was going to win for the punters. The cheers for her were no sooner ringing out then stifled by the race-winning late run of 40/1 chance Lord Erskine. The winner was a €4000 cop in the win book but halved by the place money pay out over the two bogies.
The concluding heat of the Dublin Racing Festival was upon us, the Coolmore NH Sires ‘Hurricane Lane’ Irish Mares EBF Flat Race. Willie’s Aurora Vega was opened the 11/10 favourite to win it. A punter marched in with a grand, but it wasn’t for the favourite, he wanted it on Mongibello at 7/1, €7000 - €1000 was laid to the man. That bet meant it was going to be a lively festival right up to the last race. It didn’t take long for the jolly to attract similar bets, three single €1000 at even money followed in quick succession. Whilst the favourite was being steadily backed, the gamble continued on Mongibello, other bookmakers hedging around the AK pitch meant the €1000 wasn’t an isolated bet, this was a proper stick on. As they lined up at the start Mongibello was as short as 7/2. AK went 11/10 the jolly and was immediately accommodated with a bet of €2200 - €2000, then bookie’s hedging grand at evens topped the race off. As they got underway the favourite was losing €6700 and the stick-on €3000. An old fashioned result was required. Willie’s won, but it wasn’t the jolly, it was 10/1 chance Fleur Au Fussl just what the Dr ordered, the book copped plenty topping off a fantastic two days at the races for the firm. As I left the lads were dealing with a chap with a win only bet but claiming he was on each-way. If it's not on your ticket you aren't on, please always check your tickets lads, it's no good after the race but on this occasion the bet was remembered and amicably sorted, mistakes can happen.
It’s been another fantastic trip to the Irish betting ring, thanks to everyone that said hello and welcomed me to Ireland, especially Michael an old colleague from Turf TV. A big thanks also to Andy and Jessica Smith for the transport from the airport. Thanks to everyone for reading. Hopefully I’ll be back, and don’t forget, this blog was brought to you by AK Bets. If you see them on course, they’d love your business, if you bet from home or via your phone click on the big AK below to open an account. Winners welcome!