Exeter – Haldon Gold Cup Day 02/11/21

Without wishing to sound like an old sweat, even though I suppose I’m teetering on the brink of that, you can never trust the weather on Haldon Hill. When I arrived it was glorious, by the time the betting got underway for the first it was raining. The good thing for the mass of bookies was that not one of my form book guru mates could find a bet here. ‘Too hard’ being the unanimous decision, there was just the one tentative tip, but more of that later.

Things hadn’t started well for Bookie Baz Pinno, he’d already done his cobblers laying a decent punter on the away meetings, ‘The coconuts, three shys’ his stoic summing up of his luck so far. The money for the opening Betway Supports Safer Gambling Week Novices’ Hurdle down in the ring, at least the bigger money, was for Paul Nicholls’ Outlaw Peter, bets laid in the ring included £1500 – £1000, £1050 – £600 and £700-£400. On the other end of the spectrum I heard a very well spoken lady walking along the line asking for a £2 place, of course she was eventually accommodated. The betting ring was doing brisk business, right up to the off but now under rainbow weather. Those that backed Outlaw Peter must have been ruing that they’d backed the wrong Nicholls horse, Bryony Frost on board the yard’s ‘second string’ looked sure to score before being mugged on the line by the 6/4 favourite, Harry Fry’s Ask Me Early under Sean Bowen. The bookies on course didn’t appear to have done much damage. Telf in the Goodwin Office had similar news with a small sting in the tail. He told me, ‘Despite the drift Outlaw Peter was the bogey in this first race, we also saw some late money for the well-supported Ask Me Early too‘. After the race Harry Fry told Robert Bellamy that his winner did well under a good ride and would be targeted at the Welsh Grand National.

Telf was back in touch as the field set off for the Betway Novices’ Hurdle and told me ‘Another well supported favourite in Huflower in the next, Piaf Bubbles and Brief Times have also been well backed.’ Sadly for Julian and the team in the office, the money for Brief Times proved to be inspired. Brief Times won at 6/1 for Neil Mulholland and provided the winning jockey Sam Twiston-Davies with his 50th winner of the season in doing so. Talking after the race the trainer said that he hoped his winner would learn a lot from today, that his horses were running well and was enjoying it while they were. Down in the ring Huflower had been all the rage with the punters, bets included £2750 – £1000, £1100 – £400, £2500 – £1000 and £1000 – £400. Richard Watson betting in the second row told me it was very busy with lots of good bets. Happily, Telf told me that after the dust had settled the winner was actually a small winner in the book.

The feature Betway Haldon Gold Cup saw the punters get stuck in again, Paul Nicholls’ Hitman was the well-backed favourite supported from 5/4 into 11/10. It was just like the glory days of the ring at Exeter, bets included £6000 – £5000, £1800 – £1500, £1250 – £1000, £1100 – £1000 as well as plenty of monkeys and roufs flying about. The punters, and there were a few of them, that waded into the jolly must have been feeling pretty good as Hitman jumped the last having apparently seen off Colin Tizzard’s Eldorado Allen. Any cheers that might have been forthcoming would have been stifled, just as the stamina sapping undulations of Exeter started to take their toll on the jolly up the run-in, the tank rapidly emptying as Eldorado Allen found more passing the market leader close home to win by a length. Winning co-owner Terry Warner got a rousing reception from the crowd. Talking after the race, Colin Tizzard confirmed he’s not ‘going anywhere just yet’ add that this win has set them up for the season. News from Telf before the race was that they just needed Hitman beaten, the news after was simply, ‘Happy Days‘ (minus the Fonz we assume!) Talking of Hitman Paul Nicholls said that he was obviously disappointed not to win but that his boy would keep improving.

Eldorado Allen – Haldon Gold Cup Winner

There were just four runners in the Betway ‘Future Stars’ Silver Bowl Novices’ Chase and saw a well-backed favourite in Paul Nicholls’ Threeunderthrufive which was backed into 8/11 from 5/6. Bets on course included £1455 – £2000, £800 – £1000 x 2, £400 – £500 x2 and the best value of all, betting slip sent into me as proof by the winning punter a £500 – £600. This market leader didn’t disappoint either the punters or the trainer and bolted up by 15 lengths under jockey Adrian Heskin providing Paul Nicholls with his 50th winner of the season. The jolly wasn’t the only one backed in the ring, there had been decent money for Honest Vic including two monkey bets at 9/2. Another bookie told me that he’d taken so many little public bets on the outsider Missyladie that he’d do about £50,000 should she win, but he was confident she wouldn’t. He was right. After the race Paul Nicholls said that his charge was a nice horse for the future, and had improved after being a ‘bit novicey’ last time out at Chepstow. Honest Vic was the one that the punters wanted to be on over in the Goodwin Office so the winning jolly not as bad as you might expect.

The race before the penultimate was a 5/1 the field heat, Betway Stayers’ Handicap Chase The on-course books that had laid the lumps on the short ones were no doubt braced for similar bets at prices that could do a lot more damage. Talking of potential damage I was invited up to the box of a Tiverton builder, his guests all the sort of blokes that in the days when I was just old enough to go into pubs were the type whose beer you didn’t want to spill. I was asked if I’d had any tips. The only very tentative mark I’d had been given was for Colin Tizzard’s Lamanver Pippin so dutifully passed it on, but with some trepidation because I didn’t want those guys losing money because of me. Brendan Powell did his best on the gelding but it was not to be, my tip was pulled up on the final circuit. The race went to 12/1 chance St Erney trained by Jackie de Plessis in Saltash. Mike Cattermole said in his commentary that the winner had landed a bit of a touch, and so it seemed. Down in the ring, the bookmakers confirmed that there had been money for the winner, not lumps but £50s and scores from 20/1 down. Pete Houghton quipped that ‘They didn’t leave me out’. The winner had been as big as 44/1 on ‘the machine’ last night so someone appears to have indeed had it off. Not with Goodwin though, Telf told me ‘ Snuffbox has been backed in at fancy prices, we laid a monkey each way Enqarde at 8/1 just on the off, anything bar those two and we are very happy.’ They were happy. One bookmaker told me that they’d laid a bet of £3500 – £350 each-way Lamanver Pippin in the ring. I hope it wasn’t one of the guys in the box.

St Erney – gamble landed.

The penultimate, namely the Betway Mares’ Handicap Hurdle was a competitive looking handicap. Listening to certain bookmakers having a right old moan up after the race there were no prizes for guessing that it didn’t go their way. Dan Skelton’s Martha Brae was backed from 11/4 into 15/8 favourite before winning by a couple of lengths from her market rivals under Harry Skelton. A couple of bookmakers in the ring got a clobbering, one laid £2750 – £1000 and another £5000 – £2000 over the winner, they made a sorry sight pulling it up to their respective smiling winning punters in the by now steady rain. It was happier news from Telf over at Goodwin HQ, he told me, ‘Winter Getaway was a massive loser, another big punter backed this one each way. Pogo I Am attracted early support however everything bar Winter Getaway is a yet another good result’. Winter Getaway was 10th so happier days for the sponsors of this betting ring report. If you don’t have an account with Goodwin, check them and their special offers out here. Telephone Betting | Goodwin Racing Bookmakers

The concluding Betway Handicap Hurdle saw lighter betting in the ring, the bookies getting a soaking in the murk. There were a few bets of note, wagers of £1500 – £500 for Midnight Callisto at 3/1, £2400 – £400 Gaot and a £3300 – £100 Allsfineanddandy. None of them got a look in, in fact nothing got a look in behind 18/1 winner Tibbie Dunbar. Stuart Kittow’s charge won by 10 lengths under Sean Bowen, a double on the day for the jockey and an excellent result for the bookmakers to conclude proceedings on course. Over at Goodwin HQ Telf told me, ‘ The last race was a lot quieter with punters though Midnight Callisto attracted some small support, along with Beau Haze at 14/1, that was a great result and a very good day for us at Exeter.’

That’s Haldon Gold Cup Day over for another season, a proper day’s jumping in weather as unpredictable as some of the results. Now I just have to get off the track before I’m spotted by a box of disgruntled builders! Thanks for reading and for Julian and Goodwin Racing for sponsoring this betting report.

Simon Nott

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