Kempton’s press room was awash with nervous energy before tonight’s eight-race card. That’s obviously not unusual, who doesn’t get awash with nervous energy before an eight-race card at Kempton? That said, tonight was special as three hopeful would-be commentators were waiting to go through their paces. Not actually live, but recorded to be scrutinised as to their ability after the event. Best of luck to them all in their quest to be the next voice of racing. Two of the three would probably not be names that many would recognise, but should the third be accepted there could well be a massive ‘Yeeehaaa’ of celebration heard on the airwaves some time soon.
I was going to regale you all with a tale that took a good 15 minutes to relate to me. Regular readers will already know the drill. It was a long-winded story about a tip for a horse from a hot source that was backed from big prices into a smaller price before hosing up. Of course there was no telephonic connectivity in the vicinity when the tip was given so none of us were on, yes of course it was workmate Graham again, so I won’t bother.
On the plus side my mate and genuine judge Andrew Mount did put up an 8/1 winner at York on his free www.GG.co.uk column which I roared home, sadly I had no time to mention it to the aforementioned story teller before it won. Aye Aye.
The first race of the evening was the wide open looking 32Red.com Classified Claiming Stakes with the 10 runners priced up at 9/2 the field at the off. That didn’t stop one intrepid punter wading in with a £600 each-way bet on 6/1 shot Holland Park. He probably wished he hadn’t as the beast never looked like landing any part of the punt. It wasn’t all good news for the bookies though as Ocean Legend was backed from 7/1 into 5/1 and won by 3/4 of a length from 25/1 Veeraya,
It did go the bookies’ way in the Racing UK Anywhere Nursery. Gambled on Brave Archibald backed, from 11/4 into 2/1 favourite, was foiled by 25/1 winner Cara’s Muse who lasted home by a fast-diminishing neck from the jolly.
Sometimes it’s hard to resist the cake in the Press Room, tonight’s was a lovely chocolate sponge, so impossible not to have a slice. It’s one of those situations where I automatically feel dirty after a bit of guilty pleasure. That was made even worse when a svelte-like Simon who works for a betting exchange looked at my munching chocolate-coated chops with a mixture of pity and disgust. He patted his newly revealed wash-board stomach gained after cutting out such needless treats and shook his head in dismay. It’s then I decided to hit the keep fit routine again so set off on a mission to walk up and down the four floors of Kempton forsaking the lift to and fro the betting ring for the rest of the evening. I also need to cut out the rubbish grub. Watch this space.
I was still a bit on the chubby side when I got down to the ring after the third the Free Bet At 32RedSport.com Maiden Fillies’ Stakes. The market had suggested that Sea Pride wasn’t overly fancied drifting from 15/8 into 3/1 with Pecking Order shortening, probably in reaction, from 9/4 into 6/4. All those that sit at home and follow the machine did their cobblers laying and backing accordingly when Sea Pride hosed in. Alternatively those who fancied the winner and kept the faith got a Brucie Bonus.
Race Four was the 32Red On The App Store Handicap and went to Revision who went off at 9/2. Business in the ring appeared to be pretty quiet with ‘bottle’ (£200) bets the biggest in evidence, one of them on the winner at 7/2.
By race five I was starting to regret my new fitness resolution as those stairs took some puffing up and down but I hung in there. Down in the ring the bookies were ticking over without being exactly busy so that said it’s doubtful anyone stuck their necks out and came too unstuck with 5/1 winner Twenty One Choice. Especially as 7/2 jolly (from 9/2) Mulham was out of the frame. One bookmaker pulled stumps from the ring before the sixth, here’s hoping because he got his whack and not because it was no good.
The next race, the 32Red Conditions Stakes saw only four runners go to post with Hawkbill the hot 4/9 jolly. It didn’t look too competitive on paper but racegoers were treated to a thrilling finish as the 5/1 Steel Of Madrid bore down in relentless fashion on the favourite only failing to reel him by a head. One punter and at least one bookmaker must have been screaming in different directions as a bet of £5000-£1000 each-way (yes each-way in a four horse race, come racing) was struck the runner-up. Another bookie laid a £2000-£400 the same horse so copped that, no each way on that firm, no doubt to his relief.
The penultimate, The Learn English At isehove.com Handicap (Div 1) was delayed for five minutes when 8/1 shot Chapeau Bleu got loose for a while. She eventually set off after being caught and reunited with the rest of the field, her backers would have probably preferred she didn’t run finishing out of the frame along with Sweet Dancer was backed from 6/4 into 11/8. The race went to 20/1 shot Alketios which was one for the bookies, especially those that managed the lay the few lumps that were about for the short one including £1500-£1000 and £600-£400.
There was some anticipation surrounding the last, the Learn English At isehove.com Handicap (Div 2), not least me after having kept my promise to myself to puff up and down the stairs every race. No not least me but the bookies too, because Celtic Ava had been the subject of a morning gamble with some punters getting 7/1 before the price tumbled into opening show of 11/4 after having soaked on the machine for over 12 hours. That price soon vanished too, the filly went off at 2/1 though there weren’t any lumps reported on course. The assumption was that the connections were already on and that late-comers had just been snapping up the crumbs.
Those happy to scurry around nibbling the remains of other peoples fancy prices must have felt sick to the stomach to see the gamble trail in last. The bookies had the last laugh with 16/1 result Just Isla probably ensuring they kept what they took. That may or may not have been a lot, eight races is too many for most punters and punting appeared to be minimal despite the interest in the gamble horse.
I managed the stairs for all eight races though, just ruined it doing in the pub where I’m staying tonight’s room biscuits after missing last orders for grub by a short head. Bugger.
I’m off to Epsom and Salisbury over the next two days, those tales can be read in the next issue of Racing Ahead Magazine please support the magazine that supports me.
(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.
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