It was pretty grizzly up on Haldon Hill weather-wise but that never puts off the hardy Exeter faithful and the bookies they battle. It didn’t start well for the layers when Shoofly Milly landed the opening Champions League Betting At 188Bet Handicap Hurdle the 3/1 favourite having been plentiful at 7/2. Those that like to back the odds-on shots were rewarded for their bravado when 4/9 jolly Carnspindle made short work of her opposition in the British Stallion Studs EBF Mares’ ‘National Hunt’ Novices’ Hurdle. The winner had been easy to back though. It seemed not many punters bothered the bookies huddled under their mushes in the drizzle so maybe not much harm done there, at least in readies, that lay button on the machine is to temping when a short one is hard to get in.
Things went a bit better for the ring when they got 11/10 jolly Gustav beaten in the 188Bet Handicap Chase. The race went to Chris Down’s 5/1 shot Triple Chief who basically ground down the opposition leading at the last and staying on up the run in to beat 7/2 chance Only Gorgeous. The winner ran especially well when you consider that it was sporting probably the largest pair of cheek-pieces known to racing. They certainly didn’t look aerodynamic, you wonder how far the gelding would have won in blinkers.
Lower Hope Dandy winning the Weatherbys Cheltenham Festival Betting Guide Chase (Novices’ Limited Handicap) at 4/1 was one that might have let the bookies off the hook. Venetia Williams’ charge was well-backed before taking an inexplicable walk prior to the off. Whatever the reason for the drift the market got it wrong the gelding won with some ease.
There was in a tip in the penultimate Premier League Darts At 188Bet Handicap Hurdle put up by Westcountry Racing one of two judges whom I champion on this site. Roger’s fancy was Jeremy Scott’s Brave Deed who proceeded to land the maximum bet despite wandering after the last. Going off at 7/2 after 4/1 had been readily available in the ring wasn’t great for the bookies but better than 5/2 favourite Baccalaureate back in second. ‘Stewards Enquiry’ predicted a worried looking bookmaker Joe Oliver as he bustled back to his pitch dressed like a cross between a Brixham trawler-man and a gherkin. He was right, they did call a ‘stewards’ but it was justed adding extra excitement value to any bets struck. The result stood.
I spent the last part of the day up in a box hosted by Star Sports who I have the pleasure of working for in the ring at Cheltenham this year. The firm’s host Luke was telling me that he and a group of friends have a runner in the last race on the first day of Cheltenham. Itsafreebee topped priced 12/1 in the Close Brothers Novices Handicap Chase. He sheepishly added that at present the horse was the firms worst liability of the whole festival. Backing the firm’s bogie?? Whatever next, back in my day that was a sacking offence, I hope Star boss Ben Keith doesn’t read this blog….
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