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As always it was a pleasure to be back up on Haldon Hill for the first March raceday. The card boasted six races which was supported by a very decent crowd. The opening heat, the Racing UK HD Launches Today Conditional Jockeys’ Training Series Handicap Hurdle saw 11 runners go to post for a wide-open race. Amongst the crowd was a character who used to be a well-known ‘face’ in the local betting rings. He still attends occasionally but keeps a low profile, due mainly to being known as one of the biggest ‘knockers’ in those betting rings. I’m told he was telling anyone that would listen that David Pipe’s Still Together was strongly fancied and was gong to back him accordingly – I didn’t see the man in question but doubt he’d have approached too many bookies to have the bet as they’d be asking to be squared up. I’m hoping he got plenty on though because David Pipe did train the first winner, well done David, with 6/1 chance Bladoun, Still Together marginally shorter in the market at 11/2 finished last of the seven that completed, ahh karma delivered by the Gambling Gods, not even they like a knocker. Colin Tizzard’s Sartorial Elegance was sent off the 5/1 favourite but fell at the second so we’ll never know if that confidence was justified.
When dishing out the trophies etc Leglock Luke Harvey quipped that winning jockey Michael Heard didn’t look old enough to drive, remember those days Luke?. Lucky him, he’s certainly knows how to steer home the winners though.
The Tizzard team were out of luck in the next too, the Weatherbys Hamilton Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase when their Sonny The One which was sent off 3/1 favourite found one too good in Ben Case’s Themanfrom Minella which had been nibbled from 10/1 into 9/1 but was a great result for the bookies. The punter that bet a £2000-£320 Minella On Line must have been gutted he picked the wrong envelope.
We were treated to a dramatic finish in the Weatherbys Cheltenham Festival Betting Guide Handicap Hurdle. Tiverton trainer Nigel Hawke’s Speredek was a warm order in the morning at 13/2 tipped by Roger at @WCountryRacing and backed further on course into 4/1. Approaching three out Tom Scudamore looked to have the race won on the gelding but then nearly uprooted that obstacle then started to flounder. Kevin Bishop’s Precious Ground then looked all over the winner taking it up at the last from the long-time leader. Just when punters started to collect their money in their heads and possibly click at short odds in-running Tom Scu galvanised a bit more from Speredek getting up again under the nose of the judge by a neck to land the gamble. Aye Aye.
Only five runners went to post for the Watch Racing UK HD From Today Novices’ Hurdle with Harry Fry’s Whataknight expected to make short work of the race. Punters waded in at 4/9 and 2/5 including a £400-£900 and £200-£500. They probably wished they hadn’t when the 4/11 shot could only manage third behind 6/1 Neil King trained What Say What – Aye Aye again, this time from the books that took on the short one.
We were treated to another great finish when the Tizzard yard finally got their winner in the Racing UK HD From March 8th Handicap Chase. 9/4f Bears Rail stayed on well from the last to resist a resurgent challenge from market rival Renard who’d been backed from 10/3 into 11/4.
There was a third Aye Aye between the penultimate and last when my great mate and even greater judge Andrew Mount @TrendHorses put up a 7/2 into 13/8 winner on the All-Weather at Southwell check out his profitable free advice here Trend Horses GG
The bookies got a bit back in the concluding British Stallions Studs / EBF Mares’ ‘National Hunt’ Novices’ Hurdle when Rene’s Girl failed to justify 4/6 into 4/7 support (including a £400-£600) finding Philip Hobbs’ 2/1 chance Eardisland too good concluding what you’d hope was a winning day for the bookies.
From what I could gather several people were heading up to Bristol for bookmaker Andrew Smith’s (Festival Racing) charity Cheltenham preview. At first glance it appeared two right celebs were at Exeter then going on to join the throng. At second glance it wasn’t Karl Pilkington and Ricky Gervais but RDT expert Jack and BRM Andy.
Easy mistake to make, I’m sure they’ll de just as welcome as their more famous doppelgängers. I was a bit worried as the last time Jack went out in Bristol I’m told he ended up slightly worse for wear. Not tonight though, Diet Coke only he promised.
We’ll see how that went at Wincanton on Thursday.
(c) Simon Nott
Have you read my book Skint Mob? I have had some pretty good reviews. It traces my life working on course from 1989 and a little bit as a right mug in betting shops prior to that and is quite funny in places. It’s £9.99 plus postage either on this site or if you prefer via Amazon Buy Skint Mob CLICK HERE