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Newton Abbot - July 1st 2022

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An overcast day in July, traditionally where Newton Abbot attract a few extra in their crowd from those on holiday in the region. The added and most welcome bonus today was that for the first time since the pandemic customers were able to just walk up and pay on the door. For whatever the reason, maybe a combination of the two, the crowd seemed bolstered in comparison to previous meetings. Great to see, nobody puts more heart and soul into their racecourse than Newton Abbot Managing Director Pat Masterson. 

The opening NewtonAbbotRace On Twitter Maiden Hurdle looked to be a two-horse race on paper despite there being nine runners in the field. That's exactly as it panned out, 2/1 chance Ami Des Flots did its best under David Bass to kick on to win the race from the far side but ultimately was no match for the 4/6 favourite Sure Touch. The winner is trained by Olly Murphy and ridden by Sean Bowen who rode a double at Perth yesterday, that's some commute. The only other person I know that would do that double up is bookie Barry Pinnington who bets at both tracks, but even he was a non-runner today. Down in the ring the bookmakers reported it busy but small in the opener, biggest bet I head about was just a carpet at 5/6 the 4/6 winner. 

Next up the Handicap Hurdle looked much more competitive with five runners, four of the jostling for head of the market. Ultimately is was Evan Williams' State Crown that the punters latched onto. The gelding was backed from 4/1 into 5/2 favourite, not really in the ring though, at least not to bundles which was just as well for the on-course bookies as the money was correct, the gelding won nicely. The biggest bets on course were just £200 and £300 bets on Michael Blake's charge Clearance which was still there at the last but finished third. The usual suspects in the bookmaking fraternity, Q Comber and the Jim Clarke team, had a little smiles on their faces having been tipped up the best backed horse in the race which went on to win and backed and gone for in their books accordingly.

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The third heat, the St Austell Brewery Novices' Chase boasted just four runners with a very hot favourite in Paul Nicholls' Wild Max which had been a best priced 1/16 off course prior to racing. Try as I might I couldn't find a bookie that had laid the favourite, despite being available at 1/6 on course. Wild Max won under Harry Cobden for Paul Nicholls with the ease its odds suggested it might, though it returned 1/12. If you really like to lump on odds-on shots, you really need to come racing to get the value. Nobody did, so the bookmakers all copped on the short one. 


The clouds had closed in and the wind picked up by the time they set off for the Racing Partnership TRP Juvenile Hurdle. The solitary bookie on the rails pitches, Steve 'Rucker' Noyce may well have regretted just donning the shorts and t-shirt for the meeting. Just the four runners again went to post for the race, worth £8600. There was little between David Pipe's Free Chakarte and Milton Harris' Mucuna at the head of the market in the betting, the former just favourite at 11/10 the latter 6/5. There was a head between them at the line though the market got it just wrong, Macuna just got the better of the jolly in a right old tussle up to the line. 


The race before the penultimate, the Thank You Georgie Robarts Handicap Hurdle was the first the punters could really get busy on. 11 went to post where they bet 7/2 the field with Henry Brown Fox and Little Jessture at the head of the market. Down in the ring the bookmakers had resigned themselves to the fact that there didn't appear to be any big punters lurking. There was plenty of business for them though, as the legendary bookmaker Jack Lynn, who bet here for years used to say, 'Little fish are sweeter', there were plenty of little fish keen to bet. Paul Metcalfe, boss of Jack Bevan (est 1897) told me that there had been decent support for Alexandra Dunn's Cry Wolf. That money stayed in the bag, the Wellington trainer's gelding faded out of the race at the business end. Trainers Paul Nicholls and Jimmy Frost were watching the race together, it the was the former that let out a roar as the commentator Simon Holt highlighted that his charge Huelgoat was running on up the short run-in. He might have got there with a bit further to run but couldn't peg back the 7/2 favourite, Ben Clarke's Little Jessture, under Ben Jones., 3/4 of a length too good at the post. 

The feature in the betting, for the penultimate, the William Hill Leading Racecourse Bookmaker Handicap Chase was the weakness of Joe Tizzard's charge Nelson's Rock. The gelding had been around the 6/4 mark all morning but was easy to back at 2/1 on course despite it retuning 15/8f. According to Jo Williams betting as Ivor Perry, the ones the punters wanted to be on were Mellow Ben and Jony Max. Those that backed the latter were following the smart money, Christian Williams' gelding won nicely at 3/1 from David Pipe's 10/3 chance Port O'Clock. The weak jolly never really looked happy at any stage. I understand why they do it, but the Stewards calling in Joe Tizzard felt like a bit of a rub down for an already disappointed trainer. 


Richard 'Tall Boy' Watson and his oppo Steve were still betting for the last race. That is pretty much unheard of, as is Tall Boy smiling and positive, he told me, 'It's been too good to leave early, that despite us driving up to Leicester tonight.' I was quite shocked, not to hear that it had been busy but all that positivity was a little unnerving. It was OK though, equilibrium was restored when he added 'I've lost on every race except the 1/12 chance'. All the money in the concluding Sky Sports Racing On Sky 415 Open NH Flat Race, albeit small, appeared to be for David Pipe's Lock Out backed from 7/4 into 5/4 favourite. The jolly got a flyer at the start and appearing to go best from the front for most of the way. It was going well for his backers until 6/1 chance Get The Value took it up going better turning for home. Just when it looked all over, the new leader appeared to do a partial Devon Loch and half jumped the path crossing the course. In doing so he lost valuable momentum and allowed the gutsy Pipe favourite to go on again to win. Get The Value never really recovered from its fly jumps and gave best for second to 9/2 chance Masked Matgil close home. A dramatic conclusion to the afternoon's racing under rules. I trust that made it six losing races for Tall Boy Watson, at least I wasn't going to be in the car with him on a Friday night all the way to Leicester, small mercies, poor Steve. 

Simon Nott 

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