I’ve not been to Taunton for some time so was a pleasure to revisit one of my local courses. I’m not sure it was so great for the bookies, it didn’t go well for them at all. The opening Broadway & Horton Cricket Club Maiden Hurdle went to the easiest winner you’ll see in a while, Paul Nicholls’ 3/1 Overland Flyer won as it liked coasting home 22 lengths clear from its nearest rival. There was interest in Colin Tizzard’s Waterloo Warrior in the betting 10/1 into 7/1 but was one of five that didn’t complete Harry Fry’s 11/4 favourite All Kings being one of that quintet.
The Fry yard got compensation when 1/3 Bags Groove won the C & D South West Ltd ‘National Hunt’ Novices’ Hurdle as you’d like short ones to always do when you back them. It seems any who did bet the odds-on did it modestly as talking to the bookies it was evident that there was no sign of a ‘plastic bag man’ in the ring to heave it on.
Talk between races was lively and often about the proposed demise of Kempton Park. Whilst I agree that it’s a shame when a course with such history is likely to be buried under a housing estate I do feel that the majority of people screaming the place down are akin to those who when heading to their local on Christmas Day for their ‘traditional’ lunchtime pint are horrified to find it closed down in July. Yes the course provides invaluable all-weather action all year round but Kempton is a racecourse that only enjoys huge support one day a year. It makes sense to me that the new all-weather track should be at HQ, Newmarket where it can be utilised for racing and training. Added to that it has to be better placed with a plethora of yards on the doorstep. That instead of sending flotillas of horseboxes all the way down to a sparsely attended Kempton two or three times a week, especially when the weather is treacherous for driving. Just my opinion but feel free to comment.
Back to today’s racing, there had been a mark from some quarters for 8/1 Red Devil Lads in the Bathwick Tyres Handicap Chase but the gelding disappointed both his backers who did their money and the bookies who might have been hoping for a result. They got clobbered again when 7/4 into 6/4 market-leader Calett Mad came home six lengths clear, not nice at all for the shivering layers.
When your luck is out it’s really out. That was demonstrated in the Bathwick Tyres Handicap Hurdle. One bookmaker came up to me as the race was off and told me that he taken some ‘funny bets’ on Martin Keighley’s Forecast at 20/1, £100 and £50 each-way. He cut the price then laid it again to similar amounts so had decided to have a bit back and some extra to make it a good (four-figure) winner. Information divulged he scampered off to get a good viewing vantage point. He must have liked what he saw when Forecast came cruising into the race two out and looking all over the winner approaching the last. Then disaster the gelding fell, thankfully uninjured, leaving Space Oddity, the 5/2 favourite and bogey in his book, an easy win. The layers really did have the cup snatched from their lips there. The bookmaker I was talking to took it on the chin but couldn’t resist showing me the difference it made to him financially. Nasty.
The penultimate was Geoffrey Bosley ‘Tally Ho’ Open Hunters’ Chase, the season’s first race of its kind. The point to point fraternity were out in force and attracted a healthy 15 runners. I spoke to pointing aficionado ‘Farmer D’ before the race and asked his opinion. His opinion was that punters were overlooking the obvious, the obvious being Paul Nicholls’ 85/40 favourite Mon Parrain. If punters took his advice and backed the really obvious jolly they left their money with the bookies. However some went for the slightly less obvious and backed Philip Rowley’s Barel Of Laughs from 8/1 into 13/2 and were all smiles after Alex Edwards got the gelding home by three quarters of a length from 28/1 Granioso. Another that got away from the bookmakers whose day it just wasn’t. It was great to see a beaming Leg Lock Luke Harvey collar the winning jockey to give him his moment in the spotlight for an interview on ATR.
The ‘lucky’ last was the ROA/Racing Post Owners Jackpot Handicap Hurdle, a 17-runner handicap and saw the majority of the ring betting 1/5th 1,2,3,4. Now regardless to what high-profile TV pundits might say to the contrary they are actually betting to ‘Standard Each Way Terms’ set by the racecourses. See Standard Each Way Terms Whilst bets in these races off-course are still settled to a quarter anything else, although of course most welcomed by punters, is a concession not an onus so demonising on-course bookies for doing something that are instructed to do is misguided. The race went to easy to back 6/1 to 7/1 shot, the Tracy Watkin’s trained Goal winning easily under Natalie Parker. Tobacco Road was backed from 11/2 into 4/1 and finished fourth, getting stakes back for punters that bet with a bookie betting 1/4 the odds a place……..
(c) Simon Nott