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Taunton First March Meeting 02/03/23


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There was an added bonus to being at glorious Taunton today. I have a 1% share in Nigel Hawke's Professor Calculus which won here at 28/1 last Tuesday. Sadly, I wasn't in attendance for his win and he wasn't able to repeat the victory today but it was still terrific to be in the parade ring as an owner, meet the jockey and hear the trainer pre-race chat. Nigel has shares in a couple of horses available, anyone that buys a interest, even as small as mine, can visit the yard, watch the horses on the gallops and enjoy the owner's experience  for a fraction of the cost. Anyone who is interested can check out the details here. 

Prior to racing I was chatting to the bookmakers and stumbled upon the biggest pair of miserable buggers you could ever hope to meet. I was dishing out flyers offering racecourse bookmakers a special deal. Bloody hell you'd have thought I'd been trying to dip the hod the way Robert of R&J was chittering on. Then I got the double up when Ian, now back on the Jack Bevan firm started asking for a price Cheltenham Tuesday being off.  He'd heard there was a snow storm worse than the Beast From The East coming in. If it wasn't bad enough he's put young Archie out of a job, he's all doom and gloom now that he's back, that's all you need isn't it. For those that don't know them, here they are, racing's answers to the Chuckle Brothers ( disclaimer before people get angry at me speaking ill of the aged, they are both lovely chaps, grumps, but lovely). Robert and Ian. 

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Much better was chatting to professional punter Alan Francis who has been a punting on course for longer than I've been coming. While talking to Alan and Armaloft Alex I had to do a double take, a real blast from the past and a scourge of the ring back in the day the punter affectionately known as 'Deaf' Paul was here. I haven't seen him in years, he told me that he'd still been having it off punting from home but was now going to bet on course again at meetings he fancied. It was fantastic to see him, it may not be the same for the bookies, Paul used to love betting a rag and often ruined a few books when the majority of the ring had enjoyed a skinner. It's so good to see people like Paul back on the turf and that stalwarts like Alan Francis have some company at the pre-parade ring again after all these years.

The race the members of the Nigel Hawke syndicate were hoping to win, the British Racing School 40th Anniversary Celebration Handicap Hurdle went to Stanley Pincombe for 'the master trainer' Chris Gordon under Rex Dingle, winning at 11/1. There hadn't been much money for the winner down in the ring but one bookmaker did manage to take a monkey out of the unplaced favourite Broomfield's Cave at 7/4. There had also been a bit of each-way money for The Rain King at around 8/1. 

There was nothing of note bet-wise in the Rowcliffes Novices' Hurdle won by Paul Nicholls' Matterhorn. The gelding opened 8/13 but as the result of not being a dinar on or off course was allowed to drift to 5/6 before winning unchallenged under Harry Cobden from market rival Final Encore. The betting was tight but lively for the Invest Southwest Mares' Handicap Chase bets of note included £750 - £400 Shirocco's Dream and a carpet at 11/8 Jeremy Scott's comfortable winner  Lady KK. Between races I spoke to Jane Hazell, it was great to see her back on course after breaking her funny bone at a point-to-point last month. Jane always looks glamourous, and even managed it in a sling. 

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The fourth heat on the card, the Stables Business Park Handicap Hurdle was won by Christian Williams' Unspeakable under Jack Tudor, the pilot was was worth every penny of his fee getting his mount home by a short head. Jo on the Ivor Perry joint told me that an off course gamble on the runner-up 10/3 chance The Bold Thady appeared to have been thwarted, best backed horse of the day on the machine according to him. The only bet of note that I got from the ring was £420 on Mullinaree at 7/4, reckon the £20 was for 'the wife or partner'? Yes me too. 

There was a bet of £3500 - £1000 Tim Dennis' Imperial Joe in the penultimate Richard Williams Memorial Handicap Chase which was the biggest in a race where there had been a few smaller nibbles, a couple of hundred each-way Wick Green and a bottle on Hipop Des Ongrais at 11/2. Bookies reported the business in general had been light with the odd flurry. I wonder if any readers fancied becoming a racecourse bookmaker. Before you answer that I'd better give you the result, Imperial Joe won the race under David Prichard, from Wick Green and Hipop Des Ongrais. It's a tough old game at times, though at least it was sunny, Mind you, you wouldn't want to be a clerk of the course at the moment either, more stress but at least lest costly! 

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The lucky last, the Free Racing On Monday 13th March Open NH Flat Race was a bit of a non-event down in the betting ring, the bookmakers weren't doing much business. I didn't get a sniff of a bet of any note though Jo of the Perry firm did tell me that there had been 'bits and pieces' for Tom Lacey's Tune In A Box. Racegoers that hung around to watch the finale witnessed a nice win from 9/2 chance Secret Squirrel for Hughie Morrison under Aidan Coleman. Judging by the cheers coming from the stand the gelding didn't go unsupported and returned 9/2. That brought proceedings to a close, a thoroughly enjoyable day at the races, before the maelstrom of Cheltenham in a couple of week's time. Miserable Ian's 'Beast From The East' permitting of course. 

Simon Nott  

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