Tales From The Betting Ring – Cheltenham Thursday.


Well there it was, Cheltenham day 3 and all our hopes riding on Reve de Sivola. As is the norm for me when an exciting day beckons, I was up and at the track very early ready to soak in all the atmosphere. It was a glorious morning too, blue skies and sunshine, everything augured well for the day.

Being on-course so early there was plenty of time for catching up. One of the first bookies I saw was Johnny Boy, he used to work for Westcountry bookmaking legend and D-Day veteran Jack Lynn back when I did. He ambled up to me and said that his daughter Grace had been reading (and hopefully enjoying) these blogs. I told him how pleased I was about that. He then went on to say that Grace had made a request that I give her a mention in this one. Once he told me the reason and reminded me of the story I could hardly refuse.  Some years ago Johnny and I were both working down at Lower Tatts with Jack.  Johnny was one of best clerks around so was on pencil while I was eyes and ears on the floor. He was always very conscientious but had his mind on other things this particular year, his wife was due to give birth to their first child any day. Roy, Jack’s son, was aware of this, but told Johnny not to worry as ‘Nobody would have a baby Cheltenham week’. Sadly his wife Caron was unaware of this unwritten rule and promptly delivered a healthy bouncing girl, yes you guessed it, Grace, on the first day of the meeting. We were of course all very happy for the couple.

The next day Roy and Jack were not so happy. They told me that Johnny had decided that the joys of fatherhood and supporting his wife were more important that racing. Yes I know! But that it how it was, so in their words ‘He had left us in the lurch’. Followed by ‘You’ll have to clerk’. Now I did know how to clerk yes, I had a go once at a Bath evening meeting where the going was firm and each race had half a dozen runners at the most, but that was it. This was a day of monster handicaps. There was nothing for it though, I was thrown straight in at virtually the deepest end ever. ‘Just get make sure you get all the bets down’ was all I was told as both men machine-gunned wagers to me. It was all I could do to do just that. I managed OK for the first couple of races but it got busier and busier. As they were off for the 3rd I was asked how the book looked, I just looked up exasperated and said, with a few expletives, I had no idea how the bloody book looked, and I didn’t.

‘He’s useless Roy’ Jack decided. I agreed, luckily they got a replacement and I was put back on the floor. On the floor and put to shame that I couldn’t keep up. It wasn’t all bad though, the replacement turned out to be excellent so all was forgotten when it got to getting paid. Anyway, the reason for that story, I can hardly believe it but it was 20 years ago today. Happy birthday Grace, I’ve forgiven you but I’m not sure Jack and Roy have yet, give it time.

Today I wasn’t in the ring during racing so have no real tales to tell, apart from my personal one of woe. It may have been a mistake to go to Geoff Banks’ joint before racing and show his delightful bevy of  beautiful lady staff the brochure that contained a photo of the suit I was going to buy with my Reve de Sivola winnings. It was an Armaloft type mistake, though confidence was running high so let it get the better of me. I even promised to buy them all a bottle of champagne out of the winnings too.

Silly boy, I should have learned by now.

I should really have feared the worst when not long before the off a work-mate of mine called. Now this fella is a very nice chap with a heart of gold, but he is the biggest jinx known to betting man if you tell him you have had a bet. Of course, as any reader knows, I have told everyone about this bet on Reve at 33/1 and 12/1. He was just ringing to confirm it was Nick Williams, the Genius of George Nympton’s charge, that I had backed. I rolled my eyes and replied an affirmative that it was. I wasn’t quite ready for his reply, he thought so and just wanted to let me know that he had heard it wouldn’t win because it had missed some work. I thanked him for his kind words of good luck and encouragement. I knew each and every one of those words were cobblers but it costs nothing to be polite.

The worry was he was watching the race and knew which one I was on. Cue ‘Jaws’ music.

Anyway, the form book will forever tell us that Reve de Silvola did connections and trainer proud by running an extremely brave race staying on resolutely even when headed. He was still staying on when just chinned for 3rd and the place part of the 33/1 wager in the shadow of the post. Sorry Gambling Gods but that was a bit cruel. Disappointing but exhilarating none the less, the horse came back sound and lives to fight in the top flight another day. Sadly for the Timothy Foxx stall down at the village that was selling the light blue tweed jacket and waistcoat ensemble they have missed out on the sale.

Unless of course Geoff Bank’s girls gave him the brochure I left them.  Maybe he went and bought that smart tweed combo himself with the untold bundles he and his fellow bookies must have won today. They could hardly have written in better results themselves.  The ante-post money I now have to pull up will be a minuscule  drop in his winnings ocean, but would still pay for the waistcoat. And no, I didn’t lay the place part as advised yesterday.

I’ll be over the heartbreak by tomorrow, after all, it is Gold Cup Day.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: