I had the pleasure of interviewing professional gambler and also now racecourse bookmaker Anthony...
Newton Abbot Betting Ring Report 16/09/22
The race card for today's meeting featured a terrific photo of our late Queen, loving her racing. I'm not sure if he ever had the pleasure of a day at Newton Abbot, but it's pretty certain she'd have thoroughly enjoyed it. The course held a two-minute silence in her honour followed by the National Anthem then an unscripted rousing cheer. Racecourse Manager Pat Masterson was respectfully dressed in black too which was no doubt the ex-squaddie in honour of his old boss.
On to the racing and, 'There are plenty of punters and decent bets but nothing to report' was the gist from most of the bookmakers betting on the opening Racing Partnership TRP Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle. I say most because one bookie did report a punter coming in with a 'lump' for Milton Harris' Mr Yeats, but he wanted it at a price that was already gone. The transaction didn't get any further than that, so the strength of the lump was left unknown. I scampered down the line hoping to hear that the bet had been struck elsewhere, but it appeared not to have been. Either the punter had it in littler bets or decided he didn't want to bet shorter than the price he had in mind. If it was a case of the latter, he might have been kicking himself because Mr Yeats, backed from 7/4 into 5/4 duly rewarded his supporters by winning. He was made to work though, and may well have been beaten had close 12/1 challenger Espinator not made a mistake at the last. Not a great start for the ring but I expect the bookie who wouldn't go the bigger price was treating it as a winning race. Talking of lumps, a racecourse regular was wielding one in his inside pocket, he gave me a flash and said it was 'for one later', needless to say he didn't tell me which one, but it did look as if he meant business.
Nigel Twiston-Davies' Begheera Ginge was opened at 4/5 on course for the Devondale Electrical Novices' Hurdle so it could well have been that one. Except it wasn't, nobody wanted to be on the jolly, or rather everyone wanted to be on Nicky Henderson's, JP McManus' owned Time Flies By. The short ones flip flopped, so much so that at the off, Time Flies By was just favourite, on course. Before the race I spotted professional punter Andy Gibson and his wife Emma up in the stand, so watched the race with them. The market got it right with the front two, they went clear with the jolly looking to be going the better of the two. Andy writes 'The Cheltenham Trail' but admitted not having studied this meeting but did say that the favourite might not find as much as he promised. He was right too, he found little when it came to a battle and Bagheera Ginge kicked away readily to win, returning 5/4 which would have been a nice surprise for anyone off course who had BOG.
Next up and four went to post for the Torbay Media Novices' Chase, Byzantine Empire opened 11/10 favourite, but it was Mascot the punters wanted to be on, it was another flip-flopper. I spoke to Jo on the Ivor Perry joint, and he was of the opinion that the market was wrong making this another match in the betting and was going 'up the front two' accordingly. Meanwhile a bookmaker working on his tod thought he was having doing good business laying the now favourite Mascat at 6/5 when he could hedge at 6/4 on the machine if he wished, proper job. It was only when he tried it that to his horror it realised that the machine had needed oiling and was frozen, the jolly was even money on there so not such great value after all. The punter with the wedge was nowhere to be seen so it wasn't this race. There was a time when Jo from the Ivor Perry firm and his father used to spend hours a night on the form. They no longer do but Jo's not lost his touch, Noahthirtytwored sprang a 10/1 surprise to everyone bar Jo by beating the Byzantine Empire into second with Mascat the even money favourite back in third. Happy days for the bookies, especially the one whose computer put him away and had to stand his bogie for plenty, and of course Jo the shrewdie who had it spark off.
The punter with the wedge was up early to bet on the Devondale Electrical Mares' Novices' Hurdle, he wanted the 5/2 on David Pipe's Ya Know Yaseff. He'd already bagged the 'eyes' by the time I spotted him, but he hadn't had the house brick he showed me on, but had spread a few quid about totalling a more modest carpet, of course £300 is a fair bet but a fraction of what he had in his punting armoury, that's the way, always bet responsibly. The ring got livelier, went down the line and bet £1600 - £500, £1500 - £500 and £1000 - £300 Lady Jane P, whilst another backer had a monkey on the Nifty Getaway at 6/4. Form judge bookie Steve Copplestone told me that when they get runners here, they take decent bets. Despite the punter on course backing Lady Jane P she continued to drift in the betting. The fact she was a 4/1 chance as she approached the last locked in battle with the 5/4 favourite Nifty Getaway proved that Adrian Wintle's mare's weakness in the market wasn't prophetic of her running. She ultimately had to give best to the jolly winning under a determined ride from Gavin Sheehan but the difference between winning and losing could have been measured in her less than tidy jump at the last before the short run-in. Anyone that reads these blogs on a regular basis (thank you) might think that the often mentioned 'Tall Boy' Watson dresses like this all the time given his demeanour, but no, he was paying his respects to the Queen and by far the best-dressed bookie on the course today, nice one Tall Boy.
Next up and the antepenultimate, the Talk Tidy Handicap Hurdle. The bookmakers were mostly singing from the same hymn sheet, by far the best backed horse in the race was Milton Harris' gelding Appreciate It, not to any lumps but steady at 11/4. Once again racegoers were treated to a ding-dong finish, this time it was a fairly desperate looking photo between 11/4 favourite Appreciate It and 11/1 bookie's result Good Impression. The trouble is when you are 5'6" if you exaggerate a bit, and there's no big screen it's quite hard to see what's won. So, I asked Archie and Paul Metcalfe on the Jack Bevan joint what they thought the winner was, the 'result' appeared to be in front going past me. Archie gave me a look his grandad would have been proud of and asked if I'd come over to give them the rubdown, or ruder words to that effect, just as the result came through that the jolly had won a short head. I honestly didn't know what had won, it's OK if you are 6'5 and 6'4 like Archie and Paul, 'Jack Bevan and Co, taking the piss out of the height challenged since 1897!' (A big screen really would be handy)
As bookmakers got to work on the penultimate, the Watch Free Race Replays On attheraces.com Handicap Chase I heard through the grapevine that a Newton Abbot horse was on its travels, Nigel Twiston-Davies' Topofthecotswolds will be taking his place in the The Deutsches St. Leger at Dortmund at the weekend. While I was writing this, Christian Williams and entourage came into the Press Box to watch the race, 'I bet we're not in the blog today' was the trainer's correct assumption, 'Not so far' was my diplomatic answer. He'd saddled Aye Aye Charlie and Joey Steel in the race, meanwhile conspicuous by his absence was Joe Tizzard whose horses appear to run well when he watches the race from the same vantage point. Just as I started to make private assumptions that his L'Air Du Vent wasn't overly fancied, he joined the party. Alexandra Dunn's Minella Voucher won the race under Toby Wynne and the well-backed 5/2 into 2/1 favourite, Alexandra wasn't in the Press Box, maybe that's a new system. Down in the ring they said that the winner had been the best backed of the day, 'The punters just played up their winnings from Appreciate It was one wound liking layer's appraisal of the race. Andy Williams had managed to take a carpet out of Joey Steel so it wasn't all one-way traffic, at least not for him.
It was all about one horse in the concluding Sky Sports Racing On Sky 415 Open NH Flat Race, Peter Bowen's Letterston Lady sent off at 4/7. It wasn't hard to see why, the way she won under Sean Bowen making it two wins on the bounce. I heard connections waiting to greet their winner at the racecourse side comment that Sean had to go to the top bend to pull her up, and so he had. 'She's very good' he told them as he walked in. That must be music to the ears of any owner. Christian Williams watched his charge, 9/1 chance Always Busy finish runner-up, two mentions in the blog too, which concludes another excellent afternoon at Newton Abbot.
If you've not been to Newton Abbot, try and get down here it's a lovely afternoon's racing. The bookmakers need a bit of luck though, seven races, five favourites, a second favourite and a 10/1 chance. It's not an easy game for those layers, even if doing your money in glorious sunshine can be construed as better than having a proper job!
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