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Exeter 19th March 2024



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I spent the whole afternoon writing a blog about the action up at Exeter, incidentally the highest altitude racecourse in the country, then when I pressed publish, it disappeared. Much metaphorical hairpulling and actual recovery research followed, but to no avail, it had vanished into the ether. Nothing for it than to write an abridged version for those who might have been interested.

Weather wise, it was damp in a drizzly sort of way all afternoon but the crowd was a good one. There was only one bet of note in the opening "Three Miles" Handicap Hurdle, it was a relatively modest £900 - £300. Whoever had the bet knew what they were doing though, it was on Kayley Woollacott’s Stratton Oakmont which won the race, three lengths clear from stablemate Longshanks. The winner won nicely and returned 11/4, come racing, get on and get value.

Next up and Tiny Tetley had been morning favourite for the Aco Europe Pitching The Par Inn Maiden Hurdle  but had been usurped at the head of the market by Jeremey Scott’s King Of The Lake, they returned at 13/8 and 11/10 respectively. Watching the race in-running you’d have been forgiven for thinking the gamble was going to be landed, King Of The Lake appeared to be going much the best. However, when the two market leaders drew clear after the last it was Tiny Tetley who pulled out more against a horse whose tenacity is starting to be questioned. There was only very light betting in the ring the ‘gamble’ to have been exchange driven so the on-course bookies didn't cop more than their whack.

The Jeremy Scott yard didn’t have to wait long for compensation, Stormy Flight, the 5/2 favourite managed to fend off the persistent challenge of Gary Moore’s Iconic Muddle to win the feature Unibet Middle Distance Series Veterans' Handicap Chase by half a length. The race was a pleasure to watch, everyone likes to see a couple of greys battling it out, maybe everyone but the bookmakers.

Between races bookmaker Dave Spice presented Cheltenham Champion Tipster winner Dave ‘The Cad’ Williams with his £1000 prize money. Dave Spice has been organising the competition locally for 14 years now. This is the second time ‘The Cad’ has won it, amassing over £4967.45 in theoretical winnings, mind you, he and his brother are the scourge of Westcountry betting rings so I imagine he won a few quid in real money too, the Cad beat 82 rivals including yours truly languishing 26 places behind him.

image1 (90)                                                                                                            The two Daves, Spice and Cad.

The Join Racing TV Now Handicap Hurdle was the race that saw the biggest bet of the day laid in the ring. It was a £1600 - £400 Stuart Edmunds’ Feivel, I did tell you it was a quiet day. The gelding bolted up, and returned 5/2 favourite, the bookmaker that laid the bet wasn’t overly pleased with his luck copping for that one. I had the privilege of joining owners Roger and Sarah Bush in the Winner’s Enclosure after their Nigel Hawke trained Exmoor Forest finished and excellent third under Ella Herbison. The horse is a syndicated horse owned by Roger and the ‘West Country Hillbilles 2’ Roger tells me that there are a couple of shares left in the horse which will race during the summer. He'd also like me to point out that city slickers and those not from the Westcountry are welcome to join, either contact Roger Bush @Wcountryracing on twitter or Nigel Hawke if you are interested in some sport with him.

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The penultimate Join Racing TV Today Handicap Chase was won very easily by Sue Gardner’s Lightonthewing which followed up his recent Wincanton success in some style under James Turner. ‘I’m five nil down but still smiling’ beamed a normally miserable as sin bookmaker Richard ‘Tall Boy’ Watson. Only four went to post for the concluding Totnes And Bridgetown Races Ltd Novices' Hunters' Chase, Grand Roi and My Reprieve went off the 5/4 and 6/4 favourites but the race was won by 9/2 Yippee Ki Yay which won by what would have been a distance in old money. I initially thought that the winner would have got some back for the bookies who had been having a torrid time having endured four favourites on the afternoon. A quick glance at my racecard showed the winner had been a 10/1 shot this morning. ‘Here, Simon, we laid a £1600 - £200 that last winner’ shouted an altogether too cheerful bookmaker’s workman, mind you, it wasn’t his money, the expression on his boss’s face whose money it was told a different story, time to walk briskly past….

Simon Nott

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