Tales From The Betting Ring – The Investec Oaks – Epsom 05/06/15

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Epsom – 05/06/15

I don’t why I always seem to start with the weather but here I go again, it was glorious. If you were at the course as early as me then you’ll have seen a couple of brief downpours but by the time the bookies were setting up it was flaming June.

All smiles.

All smiles.

I had a wander down the line for a chat and as you would expect at the start of one of thee meetings of year spirits were high. The Plymouth-based George Edwards organisation had two pitches down in Tattersalls and were living it up. Boss John told me that he had bagged top-notch accommodation on a Golf Course not far from the course. I may have given him an old-fashioned look. That would be because the firm aren’t generally given to letting a penny roll under the joint so four of them in top-notch accommodation? John must have clocked the look because he hastily added that they were all in one room. ‘There’s a double and two single beds’. And what of the fourth man? He was on the floor. He was also on the other joint and out of earshot, apparently happy as ‘Larry’ so assume oblivious to the sleeping arrangements.


Joe O’Gorman was cheerful, possibly because Jack Bevan don’t bet at Epsom? ‘No, it’s busy already’ he enthused. It was the same story from Jane and Dave Hazell, busy already. I mentioned to one layer that my mate and great judge Andrew Mount had put Star Of Seville up as an 16/1 each-way bet in the Oaks. (Punters like me who would rather follow a judge than wade through the form would do worse than to follow Andrew, his free column is showing a profit in all codes this year, check it out https://gg.com/news/author/andrew-mount ) I was told that they were going all out for Al Naamah and if it won the firm would be treated to ‘Starters, main course and dessert’ tonight. He didn’t want to be named, possibly in case it did win and the staff took him to that promise. Paddy Campbell’s team were happy too and already reporting things as ‘busy’.

The opening Princess Elizabeth Stakes (Sponsored By Investec) (Fillies’ Group 3) got the rails books jumping when a punter had a £36,000 – £12,000 each-way on the favourite Odeliz. There was also another bet of £11,000-£4000 each-way. The bookmakers that took those bets would have copped but nearly got the place money too and can consider themselves unlucky not to trouser the lot as it just scrambled into the places by a head. The race went to 9/1 Arabian Queen so kicked the day off well for most of the betting ring. The Investec Wealth & Investment Handicap was a much more open affair with some firms on the rails describing the business as ‘quiet’. That given you have to feel sorry for the bookmaker down at the bottom of the rail that laid the top-priced £10,000-£500 each-way the winner Elbereth. It must have been even more annoying when all around him were cheering the 16/1 shot so he’d obviously not hedged it with them. Maybe the fact that jockey Edward Greatrex put up 3lb overweight (the jockeys catering better  than elsewhere then?!) had put him off, either way it was a nasty bet to lay in a race where most kept the little they took.

At least all his brethren were suffering with him after Arod won the Investec Diomed Stakes (Group 3) having been backed virtually to the exclusion of everything else from 2/1 into 7/4. One well ‘refreshed’ punter stumbled to the bookie that laid the 20 monkeys the previous race and thrust him a fist-full of tickets. I left as the exasperated layer tried to explain why fourth place does not win in a race of seven runners.

It looked fairly light business in the Investec Mile (Handicap). So much so that one bookie called me over, pointed to and asked me to pick up and hand him a fiver that was on the floor in front of his joint. I did as requested and was then given the ‘cheers easy’ look as he pocketed the note he’d spotted not dropped. Cheeky bugger.  Abseil was the one the punters latched on to, backed from 2/1 into 13/8 but it was Gratzie that had the bookmakers thankful winning at 7/1. It had been 8/1 but you’d assume it was a fair result for the books. Not so, at least in the case of one on the rails. He was so furious he threw his Racing Post to the deck. With it was a pony in readies. I handed the cash back to him without a word being exchanged, he’d suffered enough it seemed.

The Investec Oaks (Fillies’ Group 1) was the race everyone came to see and was the busiest punting race of the day. There were plenty of bets for plenty of the combatants. Jolly Legatissimo was fairly easy to back easing from 9/4 to 5/2 while Lady Of Dubai, Al Naamah and Crystal Zvezda all attracted money. The race itself was eventful, my mate Andrew’s tip Star Of Seville was badly hampered in a rough last couple of furlongs. Just as the bookies’ groans of ‘The jolly’s in front’ went up they vanished and instead they were cheering like mad-men. ‘We got the jackpot’ was one clerk’s phrase to his boss as he looked at the £0 take-out on short-head 50/1 winner Qualify. Surely nobody could have backed that with its recent form of  duck-eggs. ‘Even I didn’t lay it’ was the smiling admission from Apollo on the rails. Bo Brown in Tatts had laid it ‘At 80/1 – but I still won’. It then transpired that rather than being a total fluke-up the winner had been tipped up and backed from some shrewd judges. Tony Calvin had advised a ‘speculative’ bet at 110/1 on his blog. It’s true check it out here https://betting.betfair.com/horse-racing/horseracing-tips/ante-post/antepost-betting-epsom-oaks-5-june-2015-020615-166.html

Then Phil the racecourse regular with the winning smile admitted he’d backed it, at 66/1. Now he tells us.

The treble up was long-standing stalwart of the ring and press room Eddie ‘The Shoe’ Freemantle gave a wry grin and admitted he’d back the winner too. Well good luck and great picking to all three.

As often happens at big meetings once the feature race is over betting interest waned in the general public. Code Red won the Investec Surrey Stakes (Listed) at 14/1 but although it was a winning race pickings appeared thin on ‘tiny’ business. Likewise the favourite 3/1 Al Bandar winning the Investec Specialist Bank Handicap did minimal damage.

The bookmakers didn’t really want to go overboard about how they did. ‘It’s been OK’ was the general response but Colin Wadey was horrified I’d asked, ‘It’s only half time he’ spluttered but then added that the winner and second turnaround in the Oaks had been one of the biggest in the history of the firm.

Not that bad then, starters, main-course and dessert it is!

(C) Simon Nott


My  (Award Nominated but sadly unplaced) 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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