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Taunton - Racing & Betting Ring - 29/02/24



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Taunton on a Thursday? Proper job, don't mind if I do sir. It seems Mike Parcej, the Phileas Fogg of horseracing must have thought the same, he was there too having travelled from the Midlands, a little further than I. I've followed him on twitter for a long while but the first time I met him, he's a real gentleman of the turf and a pleasure to talk to. The first race on the card, the West Buckland Primary Racing To School Novices' Limited Handicap Hurdle saw a big drifter in David Pipe's Activist. The gelding which had decent French form and won last time out at Plumpton had been a 7/4 chance last night but was allowed wander out to 9/2 in the betting before sauntering home to victory unchallenged  under Jack Tudor. It was all smiles in the winner's enclosure as you might expect including from one of recent #BettingPeople interviewees Tom Malone. 

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There were even bigger smiles when the yard and jockey landed a quick fire double with almost the same ease when Johannes won the second division of the West Buckland Primary Racing To School Novices' Limited Handicap Hurdle. There wasn't so much jollity by the second placed post. Henry Oliver's Try The Money had been backed from 14/1 last night into 9/4 at the off. Bookmakers on course opened the gelding at 5/1 and were obliged, bets taken were £2500 - £500 each-way, though the punter wanted a grand each-way and was halved, £1000 - £200 each-way, and several £100 bets at all rates down. The runner-up had showed very little in his three previous starts and had the third placed Champagne Gift 25 lengths back in third. The connections evidently ran into a fit and fancied first time handicaper David Pipe runner and caught a cold. Unluckily for them. 

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Next up was the Blackdown Motor Company Novices' Hurdle Philip Hobbs and Johnson White's Livin On Luco was sent off the 10/11 favourite 'the one all the sharp money is on' according to one bookmakers, and so it seemed, bets included an even monkey, £550 - £500 and and even bottle. Bigger bets don't necessarily mean that sharp either as it transpired, as his market rival, Paul Nicholls' Jackpot D'Athou ultimately proved too good for the jolly after a proper old tussle. The winner returned 6/5 second favourite . A well respected race reader told me that the one to take out of the race for the future is Emma Lavelle's Mistral Milly who ran better than her form might suggest. 

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Next up, the Richard Williams Memorial Handicap Chase run over 2m 7f in the prevailing 'Soft - Heavy in places' promised to be a bit of a slog. They say this game is a great leveller, Jack Tudor and David Pipe's Kingofthewest fell at the third bringing hopes of a Pipe lifechanging multiple at least one racecourse regular was holding crashing down too. The fall also ensured the bookmaker that took £1400 - £400 from on intrepid on course punter trousered it. Another bet of note was £3600 - £800 over third placed Imperial Joe which cheered the bookie that took it up no end, though it's not saying much, cheerfulness starts at a low point. There were a couple of interesting if not huge bets over runner-up Morten's Leam £2800 - £100 and £2500 - £100 two I heard of. The race went to Robert Walford's Art Decco ridden to victory by Harry Kimber which only started 10/3 but appeared to be an OK result for the on-course layers. 

The race before the penultimate Stables Business Park Handicap Hurdle looked a competitive heat despite the four non-runners reducing the field to 10 runners. One bookmaker was less than chuffed about the business he'd done. When I asked him if anything had happened he replied, yes I've managed to lay £1400 - £800 about an 11/8 shot. 'Hold my beer' was the call from the bookmaker down the line a bit who'd managed to lay a bottle £200 at 15/8. They were talking about Syd Hosie's Rivers Corner which had been the only horse seriously backed in the race. Philip Hobbs and Johnson White's Tiny Tetley did his best to make a race of it but was ultimately no match for the jolly which as commentator Simon Holt said, 'appeared to be ahead of the handicapper'. There was one Dorset bookmaking firm that couldn't hid the fact that they 'knew' and were in on the plot and gave it the 'Aye Aye' rubdown while most of the other bookmakers were staring forlornly into their hod's. I couldn't possibly name them.

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The penultimate Jason Loosemore - You're Fired! Mares' Handicap Chase was named after the genial clerk of the course who has left Newton Abbot and leaving Taunton today to start a new role as Clerk of the Course at Exeter. Only four went to post, but a bag man was on, he had a monkey at 5/2 Anthony Honeyball's Lilith. Well, the bagmen don't 'always' know. Lilith drifted to 3/1 and was beaten in second when she fell behind her stablemate Juniper booted home by Harry Cobden. The winner returned 2/1 favourite, so even if the bagman got it wrong this time, the market didn't. 

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The concluding race on the card was the Free Racing On Monday 11th March Open NH Flat Race which boasted an odds-on favourite in Paul Nicholls' Sorceleur. There were punters keen to play up their winnings, let's face it, there was no need for a 'getting out stakes' bets I heard of were £200 - £500, £80 - £200 and £4 - £10, thanks Jack Bevan. Those punters never had much excitement for their investment, but copped anyway, the favourite won easily returning 4/11 favourite, concluding a bad day at the office for the bookmakers. I'm writing a betting ring report from Newbury for Star Sports on Saturday which will be posted on their website. See you on the turf. 

Simon Nott 





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