New-fangled light boards appear at Taunton……

Taunton 08/12/0

The news circulating the course was that some severe structural damage to the roof of the old members stand had been caused by the sort of weather not encountered often overnight. Luckily for the Taunton faithful the meeting was only saved due to some fast work by some local builders, so by the sound of it the first race had been won before the meeting had even taken place.

Racing started at the present site in 1927, of all the bookmakers betting today only one name would have been represented in the betting ring back then, Jack Bevan. Now fronted by the third generation of Jack Bevans with the fourth bringing the firm into the 21st century from behind the joint things are beginning to change. Regulars would have noticed at the last meeting that the old Jack Bevan board that has been ever present in the ring was missing, rather the old board was missing but a huge glowing lighted display panel represented the firm, which would have been more suited to Las Vegas than Taunton. The odds and horses shone like a beacon in the December gloom but today they shone from afar. The Jack Bevan firm has as long as anyone can remember bet facing the track, but today with the new broom sweeping they had uprooted from the traditional spot to pastures new across the way. ‘That’s something you don’t see everyday’ commented a seasoned regular as they watched the odds beaming out.

As the betting action got livelier the number of confused looking gents looking for the Bevan board got larger, ‘Where is he, is he ill?’ asked one as he stood opened mouthed looking at Tal Parker where Jack Bevan should be stood, ‘Has he passed on?’ quizzed another, each time they were directed to the other side of the course that many had no need to tread to on a regular basis, but at least the prices shone and guided the mystified punters to where they sought to go and reassure worried customers that Mr Bevan was still with them.

For punters who had only just gotten used to printed tickets all these changes were getting a bit much, though one thing that keeps gamblers who don’t like change happy are good results, Sunbed Dave had predicted a dire afternoon for the bookies, ‘It’s a favourites day’ he proclaimed before going to bask in the glow of the Bevan board, hoping for a tan was the rumour. Judging by the smile on his face and the fist full of notes after the 5th favourite of the 7 races of the afternoon had trotted home, the last in the colours of legendary punting man Harry Findlay, it’s fair to say the glow from the lights was probably just a bonus. Given the superstitious nature of bookmakers it would also be fair to say that by the time the whole racing travelling circus reappears at Taunton again on 30th of December, the Bevan team will have ditched the ‘unlucky’ new spot in favour of the old and trusted familiar position and even fairer to say that had the new lights not cost so much money they would be discarded as unlucky too.

©Simon Nott


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