Oliver ‘Virtual Runners’ Carter Newton Abbot 2003

Newton Abbot


‘He’s done it again’ was the amazed cry that greeted my arrival at Newton Abbot, had Meldrew the Miserable backed all six favourites again? Had bookmaker Bevan been spotted in the bar between races? Jack Lynn still managed to win when all the jollies had gone in? No, Oliver ‘virtual runners’ Carter had withdrawn all four of his intended once again. The situation of Ollie and his non-runners has got to such a joke now that in the morning a lively thread had been started on one of the Internet exchange discussion boards on the very topic of how many runners he would have.

Those who had surmised that he would at least run the one with A P McCoy booked to ride would have done their money once again unsuitable ground was the reason for the withdrawal of all four intended runners. There were rumours abound that there would be a special party thrown when Oliver deemed any ground suitable and that a special prize for the most non-runners in one season was up for grabs. Also sightings of the octogenarian trainer selling his owners badges outside proved false.

Eagle-eyed observers saw the Pipe horses arrive in a brand spanking new horsebox, if it made the difference or not we shall never know but Downtherefordancin trained by the aforementioned maestro and ridden by AP McCoy upset the favourite and its backers in the first beating odds-on Losgdail by a healthy dozen lengths.

Those who decided to jump on the Pipe bandwagon in the next probably wished they hadn’t as 9/4f Just Midas proved very badly named on the day finishing stone last behind the alchemists choice Val De Fleurie who got the better of Saorsie by the width of a gold flake on the line. The winner had been backed from 9/2 into 4/1.

If they jumped off they should have stuck with Pipe as a masterly McCoy ride got Dumanus Bay home from Polligana in the next providing the combo with a quick fire double.

Jimmy Frost’s supporters were well-rewarded when Dun An Doras turned over recent form to beat odds on Toi Express in the next, though had been backed from 7/2 into 9/4 to do so. One bookie standing a wedge of a wager of £1000 at the top odds.

Between races, Oliver Carter made his customary visit to the ring with a twinkle in the eye and a spring in his step. One of the bookmakers staff had a present for him, a polystyrene coffee cup with the hastily scrawled legend ‘The Oliver Carter Cup for Non-Runners’, the ring held it’s breath at the reaction to come from the notoriously grumpy one, he looked, he growled then grinned a huge grin before taking his trophy proudly to the owners and trainers area to show it off.

The bookies got a couple of favourites turned over in the next two races, with Persian King trained by Jim Old and Murray River trained by Pipe being well-backed and well-beaten. Just when the bookmakers were thinking it was all easy again up came the National Hunt Flat race, Renvyle trained by JJ O’Neil had Irish point-to-point form, the early books priced up at 13/8 and 6/4. The 13/8 lasted about as long as it took to chalk it up. Out of seemingly nowhere, men with Irish accents wearing very very nice suits and trilbies were putting £1000 in fifties into bookmaker’s hands for the favourite at 6/4 if you please. The horse started at even money and won so easily it would be a crime to describe the event as a race. Long-faced bookies and lumpy trousered Irishmen were seen leaving the course shortly afterwards one party somewhat more cheerful than the other.

(C) Simon Nott


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