Today’s meeting at Salisbury was a far cry from the last which was a packed Sunday bathed in sunshine. In start contrast racegoers were either hiding away inside or huddled under umbrellas. The bookies only had the latter option but were putting a brave face on it. Such were the miserable conditions, which had gone from good to firm overnight to soft after the first, even the bookie on pitch one in his jeans could possibly be forgiven his attire. (Hear that whirring? It’s an old school bookie spinning in his grave) not by all though of course, after all gentlemen can get some very nice all-weather clobber that doesn’t make them look like a poacher.
The opening race was the Glebe Farm Stud Maiden Stakes, betting was reported to be light though there was a couple of quid about for Aragon Knight from 9/1 into 7/1 and the jolly Azhar at 15/8. Even taking into account the modest field money the entire ring were over the moon with 50/1 Frivolous Lady winning by a neck. Oh, sorry not all, ‘I laid £50 each-way at 66/1’ moaned bookie ‘Q’ Comber on the rails. Oh well, at least he didn’t ask for the fractions.
The Smith & Williamson Maiden Fillies’ Stakes (Div 1) that followed featured an even money chance that started a shade of odds-on at 10/11 in La Boheme after attracting bets of an even monkey and £400. It the furlong ploe the jolly already looked in trouble. Down by the number one pitch a veteran floorman who we shall just call ‘Bob’ was roaring home 12/1 shot Twitch. When I say roar home, I mean gently coax, with a ‘go on my lovely’, ‘keep her going’, followed by a climactic ‘AYE AYE’ as she passed the post. The trouble was with that was she was not alone but joined by 33/1 Bateel. Twitch had won though, at least according to Bob. ‘You can get 6/4 yours on the machine’ came the word from a jean-clad mischievously smiling bookie peering over his computer. And so it was, somehow they knew more on ‘The Machine’ than they did on course, 33/1 Bateel by a nose. ‘Bob’ took it well, but did so walking away.
‘That would have been a nice £10 double’ observed Phil who’d been stood on the sidelines. Of course nobody had it, at least I doubt they did, I am reliably informed that Mystic Meg was not in attendance today. The bookies were cheerful though. Once again not all. ‘I paid £10,000 too much for this pitch’ was the word from Paul Gold betting as Pickwick-Bevan (Est 2015). When I challenged him on uttering such miserable statements he refuted the allegation that he was miserable and smiled too, he had just had two skinners after all.
The third heat was the Bathwick Tyres EBF Stallions Breeding Winners Fillies’ Handicap for which only five lined up. The betting revolved around Justice Belle backed from 2/1 into 13/8 after sustained support including a £3000-£1600 and Endless Time which attracted money from 5/2 into 9/4. When it came down to the race it was a one filly race with the latter 8 lengths too good for the jolly. The rain had stopped by this point and so it seemed had the run of bookie-friendly results.
The Smith & Williamson Maiden Fillies’ Stakes (Div 2) featured a bit of an each-way gamble on Johnny Portman’s Alert who attracted a few £100 bets each way at 20/1 and a £5000-£300 each-way (that’s with the fractions, don’t know them, check out how to bag the value here https://simonnottracing.wordpress.com/2013/05/04/value-seeking-on-course-punters-ask-for-fractions/ ). The trouble is you may well get the value but you can’t eat it unless they win. This one was out of the money. The other feature of the race was the weakness of the market leader She Is No Lady who drifted from an early 6/5 before hitting 2/1 eventually returned at 15/8. That drift didn’t put off one punter who invested £600 at almost the top price. Maybe he should have heeded the lack of money talking because she could only finish third behind 5/2 second-in Loving Things and 33/1 ‘result’ Dizzey Heights (their spelling not mine!).
The punting got livelier in the race before the penultimate, George Smith Horseboxes Claiming Stakes where Orlando Rouge was smashed in the ring from an early 5/2 to 13/8. There was also decent money for Jaganory backed from 4/1 into 3/1 including a £1600-£400 but the bookies were the ones cheering when 13/2 chance Imperial Link beat them both by a couple of lengths. Favourite backers were still looking for their first winner. I hope somewhere in some betting shop a novice punter hadn’t chosen today to back the favourites in a staking plan at Salisbury. I’ve been there, it’s not a nice feeling but you learn in this game by your mistakes. You know the game, back the jolly to win £50 and keep going adding previous losses, that can be very character building and will eventually lead you directly to the poor house. And yes it does look clever on paper!
Then again, who dares wins, sometimes. Ghalib was all the rage in the penultimate Bathwick Tyres Salisbury Handicap. 7/4 was sliced to 6/4 after bets of £1400-£800, £700-£400 and £1500-£1000 with bookies opening their shoulders sensing it was their day. It may well have been up until now but those that poked their heads above the parapet got it financially shot off as the money was proven sharp and the gamble landed by 5 lengths.
There were already a few firms who had bagged the money and legged it before the concluding CGA Racing Excellence Apprentice Handicap (Whips Shall Be Carried But Not Used). They did it right as 9/2 favourite Cincuenta Pasos won the race. Don’t feel too sorry for the bookies though, with a race that competitive they wouldn’t have stuck their necks out. It’s Newbury next stop and my ‘Tales’ will appear exclusively in Racing Ahead Magazine. http://racingahead.net/
(c) Simon Nott
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