Day two for me, day four for the AK team at Leopardstown. This time it was Dave and I on the pitch...
Leopardstown Savills Chase Day - with AK Bets 28/12/22
It was great to be back at Leopardstown, almost a year since my last and first visit. I was a bit late on parade thanks to a delayed flight but raring to go 40 minutes before the first. It was pouring with rain when I took off from Bristol and only drizzling here on the outskirts of Dublin. Result. Once again, the warmth of the Irish betting ring was palpable, bookmakers, pundits and punters alike made me feel very welcome on their racecourse.
The action started sooner than expected, a punter came up to the joint had a chat with AK and had a monkey on Ile Atlantique the jolly in the last at the 4/5. Willie's in the bumper, a tip in itself I'm told. AK Bets had two pitches today, Tony and Dave on the one half the way down Tatts, and Jamie, AK and I on pick one. We were still betting on the first when A Plus Tard was declared a non-runner for the Saville Chase which was a shame.
The guys told me that betting had been brisk for the first two days here but the opener today, the Savills Maiden Hurdle was quite modest. The feature of the market being the weakness for the favourite, Willie Mullins’ Lot Of Joy which drifted from 4/5 to 6/4. They knew, the jolly ran well, jumped the last in front but had to settle for second behind 11/4 second-in Deep Cave. Although it was academic to most, the favourite returned 6/5, that was an astonishing return, it was 6/4 hawking on course. There were few takers at that price either, the book lost a monkey. Punters, if you are serious backers, you need to come to the races.
Between races, another punter came with another monkey the jolly in the last, this time happy to take 4/6, there was a pattern developing here.
The next heat on the card, the Irish Daily Star Christmas Handicap Hurdle was much livelier, the first bet on the book was a punter wanting €150 each-way Insane Bolt at 14/1. I know, I know, he didn’t ask for the fractions. There was a noticeable increase in business, most of it for the favourite Unanswered. ‘We don’t want the favourite’ was AK’s observation as they set off. The favourite didn’t win, 8/1 chance Sam’s Choice did, it would have been AK’s choice too, a virtual skinner in the book and a great result given the decent amount of field money. Interestingly, Insane Bolt was friendless after that first bet, the firm were lucky to get it in the book but might be one to note.
The third, the Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle saw steady business but no real lumps, just a wide spread of bets. There was a flurry of late money for the jolly Maxxim at 3/1 including €400 and €200. An interesting bet £90 each way Hardy Bloke at 33/1. He asked for £100 each-way but only handed over £180 so that’s how it works, confirmed by the bookie next door, he was on at what he handed over. There are no betting ring managers in Ireland, it's self policed, if there's a rick the bookmaker tells his neighbours before the race. Anyone that tries it on is bang to rights so usually don't bother. There are exceptions to the rule though, watch this space. Luckily Hardy Bloke was out of the frame but Maxxim hosed in and totally wiped out the previous winnings, nasty.
Next up, the Jack De Bromhead Christmas Hurdle another busy race, and another punter shorting on the bundle, this time £980 on Flooring Porter when he asked for a grand. Lesson learned, check all the notes while they wait, even if it holds up business. I’m not suggesting for a minute that all the punters are at it, but two light Stirling bets in a row was a bit iffy. Maybe they spotted a ring rusty man on the stool, more likely just an coincidence though, I'm a glass half full sort of fella. Back to the proper betting, there were plenty of low hundred bets making up a decent take, the book was a lopsided one, Flooring Porter lost over €7000. Well, it would have had it won. He didn't, for whatever reason, AK decided to give Flooring Porter the stripe and got it right despite the bogie going a shade of odds on in running. Home By The Lee winning at 7/1 was a cracking result despite attracting a couple of three figure bets. RTE and ITV Racing's Brian Gleeson came to joint before the big one and broadcast the prices. Never in a million years did I ever expect to be stood on number one pitch in Tatts at Leopardstown, let alone with a camera pointing at the prices, what a privilege.
Next up, true, the feature race the Savills Chase had lost some of its zing with the defection of A Plus Tard. It didn’t stop the punters getting stuck in though. Bookmakers back home in the UK would love the flow of €40 and €50 bets that were dropping into the hod today. There was hardly a fiver to be seen, let alone the £2.50 each-ways that are welcome enough but proliferate the betting rings at home. At the off it was another ‘AK’ book with Kemboy and Fury Road the bogies. Conflated bolted up returning 2/1 favourite, a winner in the book in a race where more traditional firms would have done their orchestras. For SP backers, take note 9/4 was the last price laid and was still on the board at the off. Come racing.
Talking of €2.50 bets, there was a slip of the fingers inputting a bet that resulted in a ticket issued that read €258 each-way put through Kemboy at 9/2 instead of the intended shrapnel. Not only did the the punters try and draw over an obvious and instantly spotted rick, they even went to social media to advertise how dishonest they are. Once again the bookmaker's self-policing came into play, the firms on both sides of AK's pitch knew about the rick. It was almost Sod's Law, when something like that happens, they often win. In this case the horse finished second. Given the extent of the mistake it was quite surprising that the punter given the erroneous bet had the brass neck to try and draw, but try they did. When told politely to go forth and multiply they scarpered, now I don't know about you, but if I'd had the genuine bet I'd have argued my case, but of course, had it been genuine there wouldn't have been an issue. They didn't scuttle off quietly, the next thing AK knew is that he was being tagged on Twitter, It's quite something when people try to steal from a bookie, they post that they did on-line for the world to see. Believe it or, they then even had the cheek to come back later and asked to be paid out to their original stake, so admitting by default that they were at it. Unreal. Come on guys, play the game not games. I'm told that the Tweets have since been removed which is good but it does leave a nasty taste. The huge majority of punters are fabulous to deal with and honest as the bookies, these sort of antics really do give punters a bad name and also make the protagonists look rather silly in the process.
The penultimate Ballymaloe Relish Beginners Chase was a lighter betting heat but nice to see the same punters that had bet with us honestly all afternoon coming back to the joint. I Am Maximus was the 10/11 'tips-on' jolly for most of the race while Gentleman's Game was 2/1 second-in. AK once again had an opinion and went for, not up, the last two. He called it right and copped over 9/4 winner Gentleman’s Game. The field money had been modest but added nicely to the tally.
Ile Atlantique, the favourite for the lucky last the Midland Legal Solicitors Flat Race had already the subject of two monkey bets as previously mentioned, opened at 8/15. That didn't look great for the book but then took a walk in the market out to 4/5 before hardening into 4/7. You'll notice that in the Industry 'live betting' returns the jolly opened 1/2 and touched 8/13. Not on course it didn't. Anyway, let's cut to the chase, I'm suspecting that those that lumped on the jolly didn't expect the battle he needed to put up to win. He only got his head in front with a 100 yards or so to go but win he did, fairly cosily in the end. I feared the worst before looking into the book for blog purposes. Canny ole AK had respected the source of the bets and decided to hedge out and follow them in. copping on the race. I never expected that. Willie's in the bumper wasn't such a shocker though.
What a terrific day, tainted ever so slightly by the shenanigans with the dishonest punters, but hopefully they'll not be up to those tricks again. I'm back on the stool with the AK Bets team again tomorrow. Bring it on!