It’ll take a lot more than miserable weather to stop the Wincanton faithful going racing. Just as well as it was grey and wet but thankfully not too cold for Bathwick Tyres Kingwell Hurdle Day. Luke Harvey apologised for the bad weather, he’s a great and capable bloke that Luke but I’m not sure even the most churlish could expect him to take the blame for the weather.
The Pickwick-Bevan firm had the Exeter Racecourse Student Ambassador on their joint doing a day’s work experience. Usual bag man Ian was on their satellite joint for the afternoon. Maybe bosses both named Paul feared the young gentleman shouldn’t be exposed to the aforementioned’s oft-colourful language.
There was colourful language from another young gentleman known in racing circles and ‘Ginger John’. He’d been seen apparently helping himself to the 16/1 that was available early for Kevin Bishop’s Somerset Jem. He was jolly excited as the gelding hosed in backed down to 10/1. I did manage to video ‘GJ’ as the gamble was landed, but was then horrified to notice I hadn’t pressed the record button. Curious readers will sadly have to make do with this still shot, but you get the picture!
Between races we had the pleasure of watching Reve De Sivola win at Haydock for the Genius Of George Nympton, Nick Williams’ Yard. My mate Andrew Mount who writes the very profitable Track Bias Diary column for GG.co.uk owns a leg in it so huge congratulations to all concerned.
Back at Wincanton Fourth Act won the Bathwick Tyres Taunton Handicap Chase for the local Colin Tizzard yard. Any sent from that destination are always very popular but even more so having been supported from 11/4 into 2/1 joint favourite. The other market leader Cresswell Breeze finished 11 lengths runner-up, in short the bookies had no chance though one firm did cop on a £900-£400 struck on the second. ‘I brought my own grub, you can’t afford to buy it on course with these results’ munched Ricky on the West End joint.
Boss Bo Brown didn’t say anything, he was too busy showing a cocktail sausage no mercy. Meanwhile Richard Watson, ‘Tall Boy’ to those on course was looking very morose, on inquiry it was because he’s been swanning it in Las Vegas since the last meeting and was missing it’s pleasures.
It’s not easy either though, the Bathwick Tyres Yeovil Handicap Hurdle went to Paul Nicholls’ Tegrita supported from 11/4 into 5/2 a couple of lengths clear of 9/4 jolly Oscarteea. Tall Boy Watson had sunk a mood or two to despondent though it still wasn’t clear if it was the post-Vegas blues or the results. One thing that was for sure, the winnings wouldn’t be paying for another trip back to Sin City any time soon.
There were disappointingly only four runners for the feature Bathwick Tyres Kingwell Hurdle (Grade 2) running for the £26,000+ first place money. Irving was the one the punters wanted to be on backed into 8/11, but not to lumps apart from on the rails, where there were monkey (£500) and carpet (£300) bets bet on. Bo Brown half way up Tattersalls had finished his sausage lunch and was bemoaning how poor business was today comparing figures from 12 years ago and today. That has nothing to do with the lack of crowd, it was excellent, just betting habits have changed on course. Help was on hand via the result though, Oliver Sherwood’s Rayvin Black won the race at 10/3. OK it was the second-in but at least the books got the odds-on beaten, it was not just beaten but finished stone last. Incidentally, the aforementioned form book guru Andrew Mount had the tipped the winner in his column, Aye Aye!
Five ran in the fifth, the Bathwick Tyres Salisbury Handicap Chase. One firm laid a £1600-£400 Keel Haul, ‘He was just a cash punter, I’ve never seen the man before, the money all folded into hundreds’ relayed the bookie that took it. That sort of thing would have warranted a mention in the days Bo Brown was lamenting, sad but true. On the plus side for the bookie that bet was sunk with the gelding finishing last. The rest of the layers weren’t so happy though, Colin Tizzard’s Ultragold was well-backed from 5/2 into 2/1 and landed the bets and a stable double despite clobbering the last and left the ring reeling.
If that wasn’t bad enough for the bookies the Gambling Gods had something worse in store for some of those either side of the betting fence in the Bathwick Tyres Bridgwater Handicap Chase. Seven went to post and some bigger punters came out to play. One had a grand on Tikkapick at 7/2, though might have been a bit miffed to see it go off at 4/1. The punter that had a monkey at 7/2 Mad About The Boy not so miffed to see it go off at 10/3. Neither punter would have been overjoyed come the end of the race, the former fell three out but at least got further than the latter which was pulled up. Over the last there were only two left in the race and it looked to be a long overdue result for the ring, 11/1 outsider of the lot Winston Churchill clear of 3/1f Barton Gift.
However, jockey on the jolly Andrew Thornton was in fighting mood and never gave up on his mount who responded to his urges and got up to win in the shadow if the post. There was an audible groan from the ring which almost drowned out the cheers from the crowd. Spare a thought for one man, this blog’s old mate, Armaloft Alex who was clutching (in white knuckles) a betting slip, £1200-£100 each-way the runner-up. My cheery ‘Oh well at least you got the place money’ did little to soothe his chagrin.
The bookmakers were resigned to doing their combined orchestras while betting on the concluding Ben Wakeley ‘National Hunt’ Novices’ Hurdle, it was almost a feeling of putting them out of their misery when 5/6 favourite Gala Ball duly won.
The mood down in the ring wasn’t great but I did risk asking Paul Metcalfe how Exeter Racecourse’s Student Ambassador whom I now know is Frank got on. Metcalfe gritted his teeth and replied, ‘We only took one half-decent bet all day’ then pointing at poor Frank spat ‘He took it, £500-£150, and it won’. I suggested maybe it was Frank’s first and last day to which Paul agreed.
Poor Frank, he looked a little forlorn (though not as bad as Tall Boy Watson – I scoured my Thesaurus for a word gloomy enough to describe him, couldn’t find one so gave up) but don’t worry Frank, what you didn’t see but I did was a great big wink – welcome to the betting ring!
(c) Simon Nott
My book ‘Skint Mob – Tales From The Betting Ring’ is a book about the bookies, punters and other wonderful characters I have met in my time on racecourses. There have been some nice reviews.
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