After a very civilized evening with the Jack Bevan (est 1897) organisation after Goodwood it was off to Salisbury for the opening meeting of their new season today. The sun shone and the crowd came out in force for eight races. I bumped into Dave an old retired floorman prior to the opening Betfred ‘Like Us On Facebook’ Maiden Stakes. He went to great lengths to explain to me how the forecast favourite Jayjinski couldn’t win the race. I listened politely but as my old boss Jack Lynn used to say, floormen are all…. no I won’t go there but they were notorious for losing their wages before they got them back in the days when bookies employed their ilk. Give Dave his due though, he was just right, by a neck. He could well have told a few people because Richard Hannon’s colt was uneasy in the market going off at 3/1 though one punter did have a carpet (£300) on at that price, presumably not Dave. Saeed bin Suroor’s Harlech was backed from 11/4 to 9/4 including a bet of £600 at the top price. That stayed with the bookies too because Roger Varian’s Ebony N Ivory won the race at 11/2 though bigger had been available on course, come racing.
12 went to post for the feature of the day the Betfred ‘City Bowl’ Handicap which treated those present to witness a ‘flip start’ which is the unique feature of all races of 1m6f on this course. Magic Circle was sent of the steady 2/1 favourite though punters sharp of eye and fleet of foot did get ‘top of the head’ (9/4) including one £900-£400. Sadly for those backers the market leader was caught napping when 6/1 shot Rideonastar kicked on in the straight and went for home and wasn’t to be caught. Of course some of the bookies were grumbling that most of their bets were ’50 bob each-way’ but all those bobs add up went you get those jollies beaten.
I didn’t get the benefit of Dave’s advice for the third heat the Betfred ‘Like Us On Facebook’ Maiden Stakes (Div 2) but the market provided a few clues. Mutarajjil was weak in the betting, drifting from 6/4 to 2/1 though one punter did wade in with a £700-£400. Operative was the one they wanted to be on instead, with a bet of £1400-£400 reported which looked value when the colt was sent off at 5/2. It didn’t look too clever after Short Work won the race by a neck from Dark Shot, neither of the short ones made the frame. The winner had been nibbled in the ring returning 9/2 from 11/2 but was another one for the bookies.
The five-runner Betfred ‘Home Of Goals Galore’ Fillies’ Conditions Stakes wasn’t ideal punting fodder for a bank holiday crowd. Stormy Clouds opened at 4/7 but quickly collapsed to 1/3. It wasn’t hard to see why the way she won, that’s with some ease.
As we had an interlude of 40 minutes for the Guineas I thought I’d provide one here too. I posted this video on twitter a while back, here’s come excellent film of Salisbury in, I’m informed 1972 with plenty of bookmakers. I remember some of them. This was still just how it was when I started working in the ring in the late 1980s a good 15 years after this was filmed. Rocky who bets on the rails as Kelross put names to the two tic-tac men. The one with the cigarette was called Teddy Oliver who was tic-tac at Catford dogs for many years and the be-hatted Freddy Deverson who was tic-tac at Harringay dogs and worked until the ripe old age of 87. One of the layers featured is Tony Williams (pictured on the left in the grey suit) and was betting here in the #1 pitch today.
Only six runners went to post for the Betfred ‘Supports Jack Berry House’ Handicap but only five raced when 4/1 shot Jufn was withdrawn after kicking up in the stalls. That resulted in a 20p in the pound rule 4 another not ideal situation for bookmakers when dealing with bank holiday crowds, explaining why their winnings aren’t what’s stated on the ticket, compounded when the favourite wins, in this case The Queen’s Mainstream. Sadly it seems the owner wasn’t present so it can be imagined the roof of Buckingham Palace was raised in celebration of the effortless win and hoping that her delight wasn’t tempered too much by a deduction from any winnings due.
The race before the penultimate was the Betfred ‘Goals Galore Extra’ EBF Stallions Maiden Stakes where the only one the punters wanted to be on was Real Dominion backed from 7/4 into 5/4. They left it behind in style, the colt only managing a modest third behind 4/1 winner Harbour Law with The Queen’s Forth Bridge nearly three lengths back in second. The actual penultimate looked fiendishly competitive with just eight runners and three horses trading around the 4/1 co-favourite mark before Dilgura and Blossomtime emerged as 7/2 joint-jollies. One punter had a bet of £1350-£300 each-way Capelita and must have been mortified to see the filly miss the break and lose all chance. Other punters got it right though when Dilgura won the race nicely having been backed from 9/2 providing Stuart Kittow who trains just up the road from me near Cullompton a nice winner.
Here’s some footage I took today, before I realised that you need hold the phone horizontally. D’oh!
Once again eight-races proved too many for what appeared to be the majority punters. Business down in the ring looked to have thinned out a fair bit from the previous races. That gave the bookies some quality moaning time. Tall Boy Watson was lamenting the fact that the only decent bet that he’d taken was also under the odds, a monkey at 3/1 Jufn only to see it withdrawn. Meanwhile Bo Brown up at the West End joint had been looking at the football scores, ‘The Saints are 2-0 up at half-time, I should have gone to the football instead’ he grizzled, Shannon at front of house doing all the work just rolled her eyes.
The lucky last was the Betfred Mobile Sports Lady Riders’ Handicap (Lady Amateur Riders). One major rails firm decided that they wouldn’t even bother staying for it and did an Elvis, left the building, or rather racecourse and joined the exodus. They did right because you could have fired shots down the front line and not hit a punter. Those that did stay probably wished they hadn’t when 3/1 second-in Victor’s Pet won the race under Ella Smith. The only consolation for the bookies was that the 9/4 jolly Call Out Loud was out of the frame, but of course they’d have all won on the day anyway, that just took the shine off. Aye Aye!
(c) Simon Nott
My book Skint Mob is still available on Kindle and various other e-book formats and also in paperback via Amazon or direct from me on this page. £9.99 plus postage. Many thanks for reading this, and my blogs.
I have have just published Vol 1 of what I hope will be an annual ‘Simon Nott’s Betting Tales’. This covers the 2013 season in the betting ring. All the blogs I wrote in that period brought together in an e-book for about the cost of a pint of Guinness at the Cheltenham Festival. It is on Kindle only but can be read on pretty much any device if you download their free reader. If you were an avid reader of my blogs (if you were, thank you) in 2013 you will have read them all. However if you only dipped in or missed them altogether I think you might enjoy them in this format. Here’s to link to buy