Tales From The Betting Ring – Cheltenham Gold Cup


Gold Cup Day started as a bit of a hangover from the World Hurdle though certainly not from booze, at least in my case, though in that respect I did appear to be in the minority. Dressed for the forecast rain I bumped into two of Geoff Bank’s glamour girls, anyone that read Thursday’s blog will know that I had been somewhat bullish about Reve de Sivola in the World Hurdle. They were both very sympathetic at my near miss, it didn’t last long though. One of them pointed out that I didn’t have a new tweed suit on but was wearing a distinctly non-glamorous raincoat, ‘With pen marks on’ as they noticed, to add to my shame and chagrin. It wasn’t all bad though, Geoff’s ex-clerk gave me a commiseration kiss on the cheek. Just a shame he is called Dave.

I did manage to avoid the tweed I couldn’t afford to buy on a visit to my mate the equestrian artist David Dent. He had a stall down at the tented  village which was doubling up as a studio. Catching him putting the finishing touches to a painting was a rare treat. Maybe out of next year’s winnings…

Gold Cup day is often different class when it comes to punters really having a go. It didn’t take long for word of the first actually confirmed genuine big bets to come filtering though. One Irish rails firm of some repute had evidently taken a stand against the jolly Rolling Star in the opener laying a £70,000- £20,000 and a monster £137500 – £50,000 as well as some ‘smaller’ wagers that would make your eyes water on any normal day. They were rewarded for their courage and never really had a moment’s worry as Our Conor ran the field ragged to win in most impressive style.

Business looked good on the rails where there appeared to be a veritable scrummage to get on. The forecast rain had started but not to the extent predicted in some quarters. It was enough for the the betting ring to mushroom umbrellas though. The announcement asking for bookies to take them down during racing didn’t exactly fall on deaf ears, but the mayhem that would have ensued with a couple of hundred computer systems going into rain/electricity meltdown down had they obeyed wouldn’t bear thinking about.

If there wasn’t excitement enough down in the ring as betting on the Gold Cup reached frenzied proportions it got notched up further. It wasn’t news of another monster bet but the appearance of a couple of  TV celebs in the shape of Russell Brand and Alan Carr complete with extended entourage. Having never seen either of them in the flesh before I was at first surprised just how tall the former is. Then doubly shocked that his ‘minder’ was even taller and at least twice as wide. There were to be no ‘Benny Hill’ style shenanigans as seen around Channel 4  Racing earlier in the week with that man-mountain about. The first racegoer to try getting up close and personal with his charge soon found his was blocked by a rock-solid arm of tree-trunk proportions.

The comic duo wandered up to the bookies for a bet, though I assume they weren’t the ones who had a couple of £22,000 – £8000 on the Gold Cup winner Bobs Worth. It has to be said that the punters were getting their own back after the outsider carnage and in-clover bookies of previous days. The next favourite won too, though is such cruel circumstances. when 20/1 Oscar Delta, who looked certain to win un-shipped it’s jockey on the run-in. The horse appeared to try to go around the course again then jinked at the last minute when hitting the near invisible rope blocking its way. That mishap left the well-backed favourite Salsify to win the race. 50/1 shot Divine Intervention finished 2nd and appeared aptly named. You’d hope that the multitude of punters clamouring to draw their winnings would have dropped a couple of quid into Comic Relief to acknowledge being jammy so and so’s.

The ring appeared to be half as busy as it was during the Gold Cup for the last couple of races, which was probably just as well for the layers when a right old touch was landed in the last care of the Mullins and McCoy combo with Alderwood. A lot of that business appeared to have been done off course so the ring only took the hit at around the 7/2 mark. It did look as if the majority of layers were not at all keen to stick their necks out and had already snapped the elastic bands around their winnings from earlier in the week so damage to their profits were probably limited but it was certainly last blood to the punters in what had been a bookie’s week.

So that was the end of another amazing Cheltenham Festival, I won’t say roll on next year because business resumes for me at Exeter on Tuesday. Proper job.

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3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Alan Turner on March 16, 2013 at 11:14 am

    Great blog. Really enjoyed reading it this week. Keep up the good work.

    Reply

  2. Posted by Muley Graves on March 16, 2013 at 9:22 pm

    Absolutely love your blog. Didn’t back Reve De Sivola myself but was cheering it on and was gutted at the result. Keep up the sterling work!

    Reply

  3. Thanks for your nice comments, much appreciated.

    Reply

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