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Rumour has it that tonight’s Salisbury crowd was the biggest of the season, you wouldn’t dispute it on appearance. The books were out in force too, who needs a £200k York pitch when you can have one at a Salisbury evening. The opening race of the night, the Shipseys Marquees Lady Riders’ Handicap (Lady Amateur Riders) saw a short-priced favourite in Cricklewood Green ridden by Katie Walsh. The jolly ebbed and flowed like the tide the betting being backed as big as 13/8 and short as 10/11 before settling at 11/8 at the off. The gelding looked in trouble a long way out then came to win its race under a determined ride only to be chinned close home by 12/1 shot Al’s Memory under Brodie Hampson. The winner had been 14/1 but I didn’t hear any books complaining, as if they ever do.
The Bathwick Tyres Maiden Auction Stakes was a decent betting heat, but; ‘all small though’. At the start and in the heat of battle 9/2 shot Ginger Jack unshipped its jockey and hurtled down the course riderless. It must have been a bit galling for punters who were on at around the opening price of 13/2, but at least they got their money back when the colt was withdrawn. It had been off the course for some time so maybe one to scribble down for those that keep notebooks. That resulted in a 15p in the £ rule 4 which is the last thing you need as a bookmaker on a ‘public’ night like tonight, especially when the 5/2 favourite Ground Control wins the race. Thanks to years of bad press a lot of novice punters think that bookies are all crooks and scoundrels anyway so having your winnings clipped by them always leads to some confusion. Luckily the course were quick to announce the withdrawal and Rule 4 notice.
The Bathwick Car & Van Hire Nursery saw nine-runners and once again brisk betting. It may have been brisk but not exactly lumpy. One veteran rails bookmaker called me over and pointed to a button, ‘See that’ he advised; ‘that’s the £2.50 each-way button and I’ve very nearly worn it out’. I’m not sure if they have monkey each-way buttons, if they do I expect they are dusty but one firm did lay £2000-£500 each-way Knight Commander. Luckily for them (or unluckily depending on if you are a glass half full or empty sort of person) it finished second having been backed from around 5/1 into 7/2, one of the two best backed horses in the race. It was beaten a head on the line by the other best-backed horse Edification supported from 8/1 into 5/1. There may not have been many lumps but those 50 bob each-way bets (way before my time you’ll understand but a phrase used by those bookies of older persuasion) all add up, and take some paying out.
Things were not as hectic for the five-runner British Stallion Studs EBF Stonehenge Stakes (Listed). Not least because Edward Greatrex was being treated back on the course for a nasty looking fall he had in the previous race. It’s not just the jump jockeys that put themselves in harms way every day for our sporting pleasure. The delay allowed the odds-on Tony Curtis to drift from 8/11 to 5/6, but it didn’t stop him winning. One firm not content with accommodating punters at the already alarming drifting price, or maybe because of, laid an even monkey while another laid £400-£500. That’s quite nasty when it wins by over three lengths, not for the those lucky punters of course, but this blog champions those bookies.
The Breeze Radio Handicap was another five-runner heat after two early defections. Betting was pretty static with all combatants going off the price they opened in the show. Punters were treated to a great race which largely went their way when 5/2 second-in Shell Bay just got the better of a drawn-out tussle with 7/1 Azilian. The books would have preferred the latter of course but there were no reports of any substantial bets and they would have drunk to the 2/1 jolly Scooner being beat.
The concluding Breeze Radio Handicap was over 1m 6f so one of the unique to Salisbury highlights featuring a flip start in front of the Members’ Enclosure. Betting was pretty open for the eight-runner event with each-way a pleasure on both sides of the betting fence. Talking of fences, one rails layer was made to jump with a fair bet on 18/1 shot Street Entertainer as they were off. Given the connections, one D Pipe, he was right to be wary. The gelding ran well to be second but not well enough to beat 10/3 winner Brittleton. The winner was the fifth in a row not good for the books so with their hods light of readies but weighed down with shrapnel they headed for home, a lot of hard work for a round of drinks if they were lucky. Probably
Punters scrambled to the front of the stage after being paid out keen to witness Britain’s Got Talent finalists ‘The Jack Pack’ preform their Rat Pack hits. Contrary to common rumour the quartet didn’t feature bookie Simon James in their line-up despite appearing in period costume. He’s got style he’s got class…..
(c) Simon Nott
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