My Glorious Goodwood is a meeting of two halves this year and will be for the next couple thanks to last year’s late arrival of Betsy Rose, first born of your scribe. They always used to tell me that some things are more important then even racing and they are right, I shall be back in Devonshire on Thursday to celebrate her first birthday rather than shout them home in the ring. In doing so I shall be missing out on the social event that is Goodwood, staying only two nights instead of four I will be missing Wednesday’s Star Sports curry evening hosted by gastronome extraordinaire as well as fearless bookie Ben Keith. I’m also missing the Von Trappes of the betting ring, Dave & Jane Hazell’s family who have been known to burst into song during and after meals. I’ve just been chuckling to myself after writing a story about them ‘ruining’ dinner for Geoff Banks and his bevvy of staff beauties a few years back when an eatery on a hill in Arundel really did become alive with the sound of music. Read all about it in my follow-up to Skint Mob, a work in progress.
When I was working in the ring Tuesday was always the quietest of the five days. The business on the opening day this year did appear a little gentile but there were still some decent bets flying about. Laying a £5000 – £500 ew the 8/1 winner Fire Fighting in the opening Matchbook Betting Exchange Stakes wouldn’t have been the best start for one firm. Fire Fighting was co-favourite, his victory was followed by a brace of jollies, 6/4 War Decree and 9/4 Dutch Connection. Mick Channon’s 16/1 winner Elidor did give the ring some respite in the Better Odds With Matchbook Summer Stakes. One firm on the rails laid a £90,000 – £10,000 each-way Havana Beat so were no doubt pleased that one flopped beating just one home.
There had been a tip from those in the know in the ring for Rich And Famous in the penultimate but with odds-on Harry Angel in the race most of that confidence was probably wagered each-way. Betting was thrown into turmoil when the 5/6 favourite was withdrawn after kicking up in the stalls. 12/1 Rich And Famous finished runner-up behind 11/2 winner Best Solution. One firm laid a £7000-£1000 the winner, all bets were subject to a 50p ‘Rule 4’ though hardly enough if firms had decided to just take on the favourite. Geoff Banks was quite vocal, no surely not, that 50p for a 5/6 shot wasn’t enough and the figures do agree with him.
Wednesday kicked off with an 11/1 winner in the 20-runner Matchbook Betting Exchange Goodwood Stakes when Star Rider got the money for his backers and followers of my mate Andrew Mount’s Trend Horses column. There appeared to be some bookmakers having trouble with their Internet connections. This was quite humorous to watch given they are now used to just hedging on the machine and not in the ring. One layer in Tatts got all a fluster when a punter came in with a lump on Platitude at 9/2 in the Gordon Stakes. Luckily for him he caught a second row book napping so tucked him up with a hefty hedge bet at 5/1. Platitude was beaten, when the bookie went to pay over the losing bet-back it transpired he’s accidentally backed Ulysses instead, which won at 9/2, the jammy bugger – you can’t beat lucky people!
It all came tumbling down for the ring when The Gurkha won the Sussex stakes having been backed from 2/1 into 11/8 on course. Bets landed included £30,000 at 15/8 and at least a couple of £10,000 at 7/4. Some of the invited guests for curry were getting jittery that it might well be cancelled. The rumours were quashed by Dave on the Star Sports joint, Ben Keith was still smiling and handing out complimentary cigars to his punters. Sam Harris’s customers couldn’t smoke their gift of vivid yellow pens but if used as intended probably won’t eventually kill their users!
The Gurkha was the only winning favourite of the day as results went the bookmaker’s way with a couple of 8/1 and 14/1 winners. Results aren’t always what they seem though. Afjaan was sent off 11/8 favourite in the concluding 16-runner handicap. The layers were keen to get that one in their books at such a short price in such a big field, there appeared to be plenty of punters keen to get stuck in as the jolly opened at 2/1 in places. I heard rumour that a firm at the bottom end of the rails had laid a £10,000 – £500 each-way Ian William’s Shady McCoy. They’d never seen the punter before but hedged half of it straight back with the bookie next door, Internet still playing up no doubt. As the race unfolded I heard a terrible howl and expletive followed by the observation that ‘It’s going to be placed’ from said next door bookie and recipient of half the bet. Any further trauma from that corner was drowned out by the joyous cheers and ‘Aye Ayes’ from the staff of a firm a few pitches up. They’d seen the original bet go in, and what’s more knew the face, believed by this blog to be a connection to the horse and known as one not to often leave his bets behind. It appears that to a man they’d deserted their posts and followed him in with their personal bets. In doing so they managed to ruin more than one previous decent book when the 14/1 shot landed the gamble.
I’m anticipating tales of debauched celebrating and horrible hangovers when I get back on Friday. In the meantime I have a date with a one year old, some cake and a candle.
(c) Simon Nott
My self-penned and hopefully humorous paperback ‘Skint Mob – Tales From The Betting Ring’ covers 20 years working with on-course bookmakers. It has had some nice reviews and even got nominated for a Sports Book award though was unplaced behind Brough Scott. It’s now back in stock available from me on this site, look to the right and up a bit, or Amazon – Skint Mob – Skint Mob also available on Kindle and various eBooks including Kobo and Nook.