I’m dipping my toe in with a now rare ‘Tales’ before heading off on holiday for a few days with the Mrs and little Betsy. Thanks for the kind comments regarding my efforts to write a follow-up to ‘Skint Mob’. It’s on its way but still several thousand words and a proof-read away too – hopefully available in time for The Mackeson meeting at Cheltenham – (younger readers it’s the big three days in November – still the Mackeson for punters of a certain age!) I’m going to entitle it ‘Call Yourself A Bookmaker’, a derogatory remark used by punters to on-course bookies who’d just bluffed them. I don’t know what term those long-gone punters would use today when ‘Bet-Maxed’ pennies by High Street firms using modern media!
Having left plenty of time to get to Goodwood I wasn’t surprised to be held up several times on the A303 pleasantly so to get here earlier than anticipated. I didn’t spot a bird on Kennel Hill though, so it can’t be down to traffic, there was none, you’ll never spot a bird on Kennel Hill, I don’t know why but you won’t, I’ve been looking for 21 years!
There was no problem finding the sun though, it was a glorious afternoon and evening. Talk about how old school punters would react regarding getting bluffed bets something happened during the betting for the first that would have old-school floormen spinning in their graves. £15, a tenner and a fiver were lying on the ground near the rails for what seemed like an age. To be honest had a couple of the bookies not been trapped behind their rail the notes may not have been there for long but there they were. In the old days there would have been a clash of heads as eagle-eyed floormen swooped in for the ‘scoop’ no sooner had those sheets hit the tarmac. Not any more, there are no floormen with one eye on the boards and the other on the floor left to look for chances such as these any more. If truth be known some had both eyes on the floor more often than the prices. In a very 2016 manner one of the bookies called a lady with two little girls in tow over and pointed out the discarded cash and told the duo that they should consider it to be their birthdays and share the windfall. Can you hear that whirring?
All that goodwill didn’t do the bookies any harm, the opening Nyetimber Apprentice Handicap went to steady 6/1 chance Quite A Story who prevailed a short-head from 5/1 Secret Witness. Business was reported brisk but small so not too much damage done to the ring who appeared to be just enjoying their evening in the sunshine.
Just four went to post for the Chichester Observer Maiden Stakes. The punters wanted to be on Celestial Spheres backed from 2/1 into 11/8 including a rouf (£400) at 2/1. They also wanted to be on Khalidi 11/8 into 6/5 with another rouf at 11/8 in what was another small-staking punting race. One prominent Tattersalls layer was bemoaning the unquestioned drift and subsequent poor run of Envisaging which took a walk from 11/4 to 5/1. Armaloft Alex told me prior to the race that 33/1 outsider Rupertcambellblack was named after a fictional serial shagger who serviced horsey ladies in books by Jilly Cooper. I suppose given the moniker finishing last wasn’t the end of the world. Khalidi got the money for his backers denting the bookies wads in the process.
The Doom Bar Nursery Handicap Stakes was another heat of just four runners which attracted even less weighty money, none to my knowledge but plenty of smaller business. Procurator was backed from 4/1 into 3/1 and justified the support with easy to back Accidental Agent (2/1 to 5/2) a length back in second. Seafarer was sent off 9/4 jolly but was tailed off, something evidently amiss. There were some moans from the layers which isn’t unusual and at least they were having those moans in glorious sunshine. It was nice to see one ‘old’ face was back on the rails after turning the game in. The young lady from Torquay previously a racecourse regular for most of her life was back working for a London rails firm. She did question why she’d given up her bank holiday to work, but we all know the answer to that don’t we, if it’s in your blood it’s in your blood, you can never totally leave [insert evil cackle here]!
Six went to post for the Butlins Stakes but the punters only wanted to be on The Queen’s Clear Evidence backed from 15/8 into 5/4. Not to lumps though, shrapnel but plenty of it according to one rails layer, beads of sweat on his forehead giving away how hard the evening’s backers were making him work. That workload got heavier when the support was justified by two lengths, all that shrapnel had to be handed back plus some. The owner wasn’t present but for the all those who had no idea she gazed out from each and every note and coin tendered commentator Mark Johnson repeated excitedly that the winner was a ‘royal winner’ as the gelding forged clear. One wag suggested he was after a garden party invitation, maybe it’ll be in the post tonight.
There were just he five in the penultimate Breeders Backing Racing EBF Fillies’ Stakes. There weren’t many decent bets to speak of but one rails punter did let the carpet (£300) he was drawing on a previous winner spin at even money on Laugh Aloud, there was a similar bet struck in Tatts at 10/11. Those punters must have been ruing their haste when money came in for second-in Rostova 2/1 into 15/8 and the jolly drifted to 5/4 where another punter waded in with a £400 bet. Not only did they get it wrong with prices taken but got the winnings snatched from their lips when Rostova who looked set for runner-up slot found another gear and got up to win a head on the line. The result was still no good for the bookies who had given up moaning but still weren’t taking much.
The lucky lucky last saw nine go to post for the Ultimate Driving Stakes. The race did pick up a bit on the punting front with a bet of £1000-£400 for Golden Wedding and £3000-£500 Clever Bob prompting of a comment of ‘I don’t know where that one came from’ from the bookie that took it. Sadly for the ring the most support was for the winner Little Miss Kodi backed from 13/2 into 4/1 on course and bigger off with at least two three-figure bets reported on the rails. The bookmakers remained stoic as the sounds of ‘Shake Rattle & Roll’ bounced around the course, ‘It’s not been a busy night’ was general opinion.
Still better than a proper job.
(c) Simon Nott