Big Shaun, the golfers and the gamble.

Exeter 17/11/2006

‘Big’ Shaun is a bit of a face around the local racecourses, he’s been around for at least as long as I can remember and probably longer. He’s one of the those ‘face’ faces, well connected, if he has a bet you take notice but he also keeps his cards close to his chest, at least until after he’s had his wager.

He’d been up early today, very busy putting the fear of God into various off course bookmaking firms who were apparently not too keen to accommodate his requested wagers on Norton Sapphire but thanks to a helper or two, he and the other connections had managed to get their bets on before the clock struck twelve. That was what was unusual about today, Shaun was more than happy to tell everyone he knew that they could do a lot worse than having a few bob on. Such was his and the other, mystery, members of the owning Miracle In Mind Partnership a lot of people took the advice but had to wait around in the rain until the penultimate 2.55 race where Norton Sapphire was being unleashed.

The bookmakers had also heard the positive vibes but there were also some good nods from some good people for some others in the race so opened the subject of Shaun’s confidence at around 5/2, it didn’t take long for that price to tumble as the gamble gathered momentum, but it wasn’t just at Exeter. One of the partnership decided he would let one of his pals in on the tip.

Up at Ascot racecourse golf legend Sam Torrance’s phone rang, it is reported his listened intently and then stood on a table and asked for hush, he informed the throng of around 70 golfing enthusiasts, players and caddies assembled there that he had been told the probable winner of the 2.55 at Exeter and thereafter imparted his privileged information. No sooner had the words passed his lips than Tote booths were being swamped and bookmakers called.

Around the allotted time the race was under way, for a while it seemed as if the subject of the gamble was pulling too hard in the testing conditions not normally a good omen but then he took up the running and a cheer when up from the amassed ranks of Norton Sapphire’s connections who filled several rows in the stands in front of the owner and trainers bar. The jumping and shouting faltered a little when it seemed as if the gamble would go astray as a party interloper in the shape of Foxtrot Yankee took the lead at the last but Norton’s jockey James White got to work on his mount pushing for all he was worth to get to 15/8f home by a length at the line. The scenes in the stand resembled St James Park when the City had just grabbed a last gasp winner against Arsenal in the Cup rather than Haldon, the roar would probably have been heard by Sam Torrance and mates at Ascot had they not been cheering so loud themselves.

The bookmakers had been stung again, as the punters queued in front of one, a Scotsman handed over a ticket for several hundred pounds winnings. The bookmaker, it has to be said, had the hump a bit and on hearing the thick accent delved into his bag and handed over a wad of Scottish fifties and twenties commenting that as the punter was from Scotland he wouldn’t mind them and he wanted rid as he’d had them since Cheltenham.

The punter didn’t complain and took them with a smile, as he walked away from the flustered layer, he then turned back and quipped ‘I wouldn’t mind at all but I’ve lived down here for 42 years!’

(C) Simon Nott


3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by gary cook on February 23, 2011 at 9:09 pm

    Remember that day well as worked for JD as clerk.Didn’t get bonus though.


  2. One of the best days ever…job done but as it turned out we got away with it as she was a 3 miler but won due to being 40lbs well in…Norton Now has 2 foals by Midnight Legend and if they are as guttsy as their mum they will do fine…..she went on to land another nice touch at Wincanton when she foiled a massive plot from the P Nichols yard in a photo finish with 20mins back to the 3rd.


    • Hey Shaun, great to hear from you and the updates. You also get a mention in my book, the Jack and the gypsies story! Hope to see you on the turf again soon. Si


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