Tales From The Betting Ring – Kempton 12/01/13


It is fair to say it was pretty nippy down in the ring but at least we had none of the rain I’d driven up from Devon through. As always Kempton had pulled out the stops and attracted a decent crowd to their William Hill sponsored Lanzarote Hurdle Day. The bookies turned out in force too, the rail being almost full and a couple of lines filled in Tatts.

One prominent and rather flamboyant rails layer’s firm were there but not betting. ‘Left some of the kit home,’ his trusty side-kick informed me. Luckily ‘home’ wasn’t that far so he’d gone to get it. Ducking betting on the first in the process. That kit-challenged bookie probably allowed himself a bit of a grin when he heard that the well-backed odds-on good thing had won the opener.

It was just after the first that I spotted an owner chatting to a bookmaker. He volunteered the information that the firm he was talking to ‘Must be mad’. His horse was running in the last and they were offering double-figure prices. He’d had some of that but felt it was akin to stealing money in his opinion, but added that they wanted to take the bet so who was he to argue. Who indeed.

The AWOL layer had still not returned when the the punters and bookies squared up to each other for the next. All the money was for Tetlami who was around 1/3. It won, but those punters who had their last £300 on to win £100 certainly had their money’s worth in entertainment value. There were plenty of heart in the mouth moments during the race. It reminded me of a saying an old Westcountry bookie had for punters that backed odds-on shots that survived scares-aplenty; ‘They must have rings of steel’. Make of that one as you will.

Missing bookie was still missing but no-doubt feeling quite smug.

He was back for the third, but didn’t price-up, it was a spirited betting heat but the well-backed Cloudy Copper won the race. The bookies were not happy, well, all but one I’d imagine.

It was always the traditional belief that one in three jollies won. That trend seems to be bucking these days when the world’s best ever reflector of true odds is being used as a guide. Of course punters and bookies both look at the same exchanges but those false favourites that used to be bread and butter for the ring rarely exist any more. Bally Legend was a well-punted winner and made it another nasty result for the layers.

The 18-runner feature would surely be the one to get stuck into. A wide open event and what all the punters were there for. Oscar Dara wasn’t favourite but was a well-backed winner at 5/1. It compounded the misery for the books, who were not only freezing but going skint at the same time, that the dream result was runner-up at 100/1.

The layer who had been late was evidently furious and started to pack up. ‘My field money was pathetic, then I laid one bet of note, yes you guessed it, on the winner’ he confided through gritted teeth. He paid up and was gone.  Of course the favourite didn’t win the next or the last. It wasn’t good news though. The winner of the concluding race was backed from 16/1 into 10/1 including some lumps so someone appeared to have had it spark off.

I’d like to end this meeting’s tale on a happy note saying that the intrepid punter owner I mentioned at the start was the one who benefited. Sadly I can’t. His horse ran very disappointingly and was nowhere to be seen when it came to troubling the judge. In his case it will no doubt only be money lent as he is no mug.

‘There are no mugs any more’ bemoaned one layer, before adding ‘Everyone gets their card marked by that bloody machine’.

(C) Simon Nott

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