I had second thoughts about my planned visit to Taunton as the rain lashed down in Witheridge first thing this morning. Luckily Laura Tobin on Good Morning Britain assured her viewers that all was going to be fine in Somerset by 2pm so I decided to make the effort. I got to the course at Orchard Portman as they were going down for the opening John ‘Freddy’ Kenyon RNLI Crewman Memorial Maiden Hurdle. That race didn’t start well for the bookies with Paul Nicholls’ Touch Kick winning easily under Sam Twiston-Davies despite running green. The winner had been well-supported from 7/4 into 6/4 to do the business so got the punters that backed it off to a flyer.
The Farmers Arms Combe Florey RNLI Handicap Hurdle looked tricky on paper but it didn’t stop the 4/1 jolly Master Burbidge winning quite easily which wasn’t a great sight or result for the bookies either. I wandered up to the Members’ end of the betting ring as early skirmishes took place for the Archer Mann Supports The RNLI Novices’ Handicap Chase. There were bits of 7/2 available for the Terry Warner owned and Colin Tizzard trained Leg Lock Luke. I thought that might represent a bit of value because had the beast, named after ITV’s much-loved Luke Harvey, not thrown the race away at this venue last time out he’d be a lot shorter. I ventured my idea to sage-like duo of seasoned regulars ‘Punting’ Pete and ‘Farmer’ Derek. ‘I shan’t be backing Leg Lock Luke again today’ hissed the latter, eyeing the hitherto tempting 7/2 with some disdain then adding some unrepeatable comments about the horse’s nature. I scribbled his comments down for blog purposes and heeded them, after all the man has many acres and is not known for being a mug.
Luckily for the bookies the majority of punters didn’t, Leg Lock Luke went off the 5/2 favourite. It’s doubtful he ever will again though after sulking its way out of contention. Harry Fry’s Innocent Girl won the race at 4/1 but was hardly a result for the layers but at least wasn’t favourite.
I carried on wandering, even further down the track to the paddock where I bumped into another couple of shrewdies leaning against the rail and enjoying the sunshine. One of them stood bolt upright when he saw Paul Nicholls’ likely favourite Amour De Nuit being led in exclaiming; ‘Bloody hell he’s got ‘Scrapper’ leading him up, the horse must be a handful’. At this point I must apologise in advance to the very hard looking groom my observant and usually well-informed man was referring to, I’m sure he’s a lovely fellow. ‘He’s the one they get to handle the difficult ones and he’s very good at it’ enlightened my still bolt upright informant. His mate then piped up, ‘We’re going to see which way Paul Nicholls goes to watch the race before having a bet’, took a deep breath then added, ‘If he stays in the paddock to see it run it may be still fancied but not strongly, if he goes down to the last on the course, then it’s nearly won already.’
Now I’m guessing that’s good info in anyone’s book. They both stood, eyes fixed on the Champion Trainer, then as the horses left the paddock he started to walk…. towards to last. I turned to confirm that the gelding must be a bet but the planned recipients of my intended bleeding obvious statement were hightailing it to the bookies. If they’d got some of the 7/4 at least they’d have beaten the SP, but that would have been small compensation as the 13/8 jolly proved no match for Colin Tizzard’s Valhalla. The winner had been nibbled from 11/1 into 7/1 before besting the Nicholls horse by a couple of lengths. Terry Warner is part owner of the winner so hopefully made up for the on-going disappointment of Leg Lock Luke.
Jonjo O’Neill’s Timeforwest was all the rage to win the Charles Stanley RNLI Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle backed from 5/6 into 4/6. This time another racecourse regular* provided me with a nice little quote for this blog, ‘Ah that’s the mare that won on Monday having improved vastly for the first time application of wonga!’ All I can say is that she must have been a good thing when they had it on at Market Rasen (11/2 into 9/2) last time out because she won by 16 lengths today under a penalty with her head in her chest.
There’s no time for sour grapes racecourse regulars, we’d all like to know wouldn’t we, but can’t afford to pay the training fees!
*Please note any readers who might think they know the identity of any ‘racecourse regulars’ quoted, it’s not them…..
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