Setting off at 8am to a track that’s waterlogged in places and described as only 50/50 to go ahead after the planned 10am inspection is never ideal. Getting there prior to that time to find it is not only survived but bathed in sunshine certainly is, bravo to Cheltenham for their perseverance.
Racing kicked off at 12.40 with the JCB Triumph Hurdle Trial (Juvenile Hurdle) (Registered As The Finesse Juvenile Hurdle) (Grade 2) which saw six runners and some lively betting. Clan Des Obeaux and Who Dares Wins headed the market going off at 11/8 and 13/8 respectively. There had been better value in the ring, come racing, with several three and four-figure bets struck on the jolly at 6/4 while punters got a fair bit on at 2/1 and 7/4 the second-in. With that in mind you can understand the bookies cheering winning 25/1 rank outsider Protek Des Flos home for all they were worth. Rocky on the rails reported it a ‘skinner’ (he hadn’t seen a single bet for it so kept all he’d taken on the others – the dream result for any bookie) but others were bemoaning their lot. ‘I always lay them’ was Paul Metcalfe’s summing up though judging by his wry smile what bets he had taken didn’t do that much damage to his cop on the race.
Four fences, including the last were omitted for the Timeform Novices’ Handicap Chase reduced to 12 runners from 15. Un Temps Pour Tout was backed from 7/2 into 3/1 jolly but could only manage fourth behind steady 8/1 shot King’s Odyssey, another half-decent result for the bookies. There weren’t that many what you’d describe as big bets seen, but of course that is all relative, but the bookmakers were kept very busy.
The BetBright Trial Chase (Grade 2) boasted a hot but uneasy favourite in Djakadam which opened 8/11 before taking a walk in the market. If you were able to get on at warp-speed there was even a smattering of even money for a nano second but returned a shade of odds on at 5/6. The drift was despite bets of £2400-£3000, £1600-£2000 and double-figures worth of grand and monkey bets all at odds on. If Captain Kirk did get on at evens it wasn’t to lumps. Regardless, all the money on the favourite ended up in the black hole in bookies’ hods when it fell at the 10th when still going well. Getting the odds-on beaten is never bad for the betting ring but the main money in opposition to the market leader was on Smad Place 11/2 into 9/2 which won the race.
The mood in Tattersalls was buoyant after the first three races. Of course most of it because the layers were well up but one racecourse regular was particularly excited at the prospect of a young lady he was meeting after racing. I’m hoping ‘Kinky Denise’ isn’t a Tales From The Betting Ring reader, or at least if she is doesn’t connect her self with the ‘gentleman’ in question – in more ways than one.
Nine went to post for the freebets.com Trophy Chase (Grade 3 Handicap). There was very good support for Champagne West backed from 2/1 into 7/4, bets included several at 2/1 including a £4000-£2000 each way laid on the front row of Tatts. The bookie that took it said it was in cash and that he’d never seen the man before. He didn’t see him after the race either. It can’t be nice working out that each way is your edge only to see your fancy clobber a fence almost falling before being pulled up. Let’s hope the punter can reap some of that back care of the sponsors. The race went to Alan King’s Annacotty which had been quietly backed from 8/1 into 13/2.
The bookmaker that laid the lumpy each-way was in high spirits but said he needed the change of luck after laying the previous winners including a £1000-£30 the ‘result’ in the opener. That lucky punter got fractions too, if you don’t understand what they are you are missing out, enlighten yourself here most on-course bookies will oblige if you ask.
If you like bookies, as I do, you’ll have to hope that he really got his whack because the wheels came off a bit in the next two races. Firstly in the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 2) (Registered As The Classic Novices’ Hurdle) where Yanworth obliged with an easy 2/1 win, bets included a £4000-£2000. It wasn’t all bad though because the betting was lively with decent money for Shantou Village backed from 11/4 into 9/4 which would have lessened the blow.
If the previous win looked bloodless for the punters it really was just a case of ‘how far’ for Thistlecrack in the galliardhomes.com Cleeve Hurdle (Grade 2). The effortless win probably accounted for why there was plenty of lumpy cash about at 8/11 and 4/5 in the betting skirmishes. The books were keen to take the jolly on despite the money so got it wrong in style. Camping Ground was the main opposition to the favourite backed from 3/1 into 5/2 but could only manage 5th.
If you listened carefully you could already hear some bookmakers priming their staff up for ‘no honours’ (bonus often hoped for by staff usually forlornly after a good winning day) by moaning that they ‘hadn’t got their whack’. That also meant that with the competitive nine-runner Steel Plate And Sections Handicap Hurdle to conclude they’d already added up their winnings and wouldn’t be sticking their necks out. 13/2 Solstice Star winning the race with 11/4 favourite Clean Sheet unplaced would hopefully have ensured some more modest ‘cop’ figures in the book. That would have paid for a drink for the staff surely bookies.
(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.
If you’d like one you can buy a signed copy direct from me via paypal here
It’s also available on Amazon, Nook, Kobo and on Kindle.