There were plenty of people at Exeter, as there often are, and a few extra folk that hadn’t been bargained for. Warwick had been abandoned in the morning so some jockeys had re-routed down the M5 to Exeter to the detriment of ‘lesser’ pilots originally booked. It must be character-building to see a nice afternoon of rides pilfered by one’s already more illustrious brethren. Still, jockeys are made of stern stuff so I’m sure take it in their stride.
A bookmaker was all of a bustle before the first. She’d seen a lady who had been a regular decent punter in the past but had been on the missing list for a while. ‘She says she had to come because Martin is going to have a double’ the bookie spluttered breathlessly frowning at the number of runners ‘Martin’ had at the meeting. The lady punter had obviously been missing longer than anyone thought, not knowing that ‘Martin’ was now David. All that aside she had always been a well-connected sort so wouldn’t be here for nothing, as they say.
The opening Kandy Toys ‘National Hunt’ Novices’ Hurdle featured a brace of Pipe runners but were both big prices so doubtful it was either of those. It wasn’t, the jolly 10/11 shot Qualando won the race a length too good at the line from 9/4 second favourite Gold Present ridden by Barry Geraghty at the expense of David Bass. One punter had a grand on to win £909 but business had been generally just small and brisk.
The second heat was the West Wing Mares’ Handicap Hurdle in which David Pipe’s Molo was backed from 15/8 into 7/4 and finished 28 lengths in front of Red Penny. Sadly for her backers Molly’s A Diva was backed from 6/1 into 11/2 and was 3/4 of a length too good for the favourite at the line. The winner was ridden by Jason Maguire who had been a late replacement for David Bass who you wouldn’t really blame should he seek compensation from Warwick for loss of earnings. The way the Pipe mare ran I’m guessing that she was one of the ‘two’ but couldn’t be sure.
There was a bit of a surprise prior to the third when veteran SP validator and ex Pontins Blue Coat who once shared a dressing room with the Kinks Terry Allen, treated a few of us to bread and butter pudding. That was very strange because the Racing Post’s Westcountry correspondent Andrew King had only been telling me prior to racing how ‘careful’ Terry is. I don’t really call going all the way to Dawlish to Gays Creamery http://new.gayscreamery.co.uk/ just us to gift us a generous portion of ‘The best bread and butter pudding in the World’ ‘careful’ Andrew tut tut. Take that, or not as it turned out, we enjoyed it. Thanks Tel.
We’d just about finished our puds when Twentytwo’s Taken won the Andrews Family & Friends Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle with some ease at even money having been 11/10. It was trained by David Pipe and ridden by Tom Scudamore who had always been riding it. That was one of the Pipes two for sure. The race didn’t go too well for another jockey, this time Tommy Phelan who had a torrid time at the start thanks to his cantankerous mount Magic Magnolia. She drifted from 6/1 to 10/1 in the betting then conceded to race only to unseat poor Phelan at the first. Davis Bass should have been riding Knocklayde Express in the race but was once again jocked off. It finished fourth.
There were strange goings on in the betting prior to the Up The Villa Handicap Hurdle. John Panvert’s Eddy had been backed from 33/1 in the morning to 14/1 at the off. Following up from last week’s theme of not knowing where the money was coming from, connections of the Tiverton yard apparently told one of the front row bookies, yes you guessed it, they didn’t know where it was coming from. There had also been support for Tim Dennis’ It’s A Long Road which I’m told some shrewds availed themselves of 8/1 the evening prior. That which wasn’t bad about something that went off at 7/2. Those clever folk got it right, gamble landed from 3/1 favourite Xaarcet. Eddy ran a great race and looked certain to bag third when coming down at the last, at least it wasn’t connections money that bit the dust, that would have been the double bump.
The wonderfully monikered Coming Down The Pub My Son Handicap Hurdle saw A.P. McCoy boot 13/8f Master Malt home for the dream team of JP and JJ in the famous gold and green hoops. That was no good at all for the bookies, nor for poor David Bass. He’d been due to ride Urban Storm, before it became a non-runner and the last leg of an unenviable Yankee of ‘what might have been’ rides today. It’s worth noting that Jeremy Scott’s Kilmurvy had been tipped by shrewd sources and supported from 12/1 in the morning to 6/1 at the off. It was a nearest-finish fourth but could be worth another chance.
The penultimate Andrew West Memorial Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase was worth over £9000 to the winner and proved competitive. Big Society was backed from 7/2 into 3/1 joint favourite as was David Pipe’s Top Wood, their last chance of the double up as predicted. Backers of both geldings donated their bets to the bookies, as did the bookies betting with the bookies to small money on AP’s mount Tara Road. The race was won by 10/1 shot Salmanazar who wore down the gallant long time leader 8/1 chance Ballyculla before going on to win by 9l. Richard ‘Tall Boy’ Watson was stood on his joint doing an uncanny impression of the AWOL ‘Armaloft Alex’ as it passed the post, we can guess the race was a good winning one for that bookie at least.
The ‘lucky’ last was the Good Night Bud Handicap Chase and another good betting race. Moorlands Mist was sent off 11/4 jolly. One backer waded in with a £1200 – £400, it’s safe to say he probably wished he hadn’t a long way out before it was pulled up and he put out of his punting misery. Castarnie won the race at 11/2 ridden by Felix De Giles. Quite how original rider Richie McLernon felt about that is anyone’s guess. At least David Bass kept his ride on distant fourth placed Newton Thistle so didn’t have a totally wasted trip.
Bookie Joe Oliver was looking pretty grumpy as he watched his staff pack up despite recently becoming a new Granddad and winning on the day. ‘It’s been terrific’ was his summing up, I imagine, he breaks into a smile on a ‘We’ve had it spark bang off’ day. Next stop Wincaton on Wednesday.
(c) Simon Nott
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