Tales From The Betting Ring – Exeter 02/04/13

There was an early scare when a 10am inspection was called after a chilly night up at Haldon. A scare is all it was though as racing eventually went ahead under glorious sunshine.  It soon became evident that there were plenty of people extremely happy about that. Now there are always going to be plenty of people happy that racing at Exeter goes ahead because it is traditionally very well supported, even in horizontal rain. Though as already explained, inclement weather was not an issue today. Today was Finlake Holiday Park ‘Family Fun Day’ and the families came out in their droves. There appeared to be kids everywhere, all over the place, swinging on bars in the stands, careering around the enclosures and basically having a whale of a time.  It was not only young racegoers of the future learning to love the game enjoying themselves. We could have easily witnessed the champion jockey 2023 learning their trade in either of the two pony races that preceded the mammoth 8-race card. It was great to see a film crew that looked to be from some sort of children’s’ TV show covering the races as well as Grand National winning jockey Daryl Jacob giving words of support to the riders.

Of course, all the youthful racing prodigy had parents and guardians with them. A fair few of them appeared to be novice racegoers but still looked keen to get involved in-between trying to keep tabs on their whirling-Dervish charges. The regular faces were all there too, Badger, Armaloft and the pro-punter with the big binoculars, well outnumbered though, because for all intents and purposes the meeting had a bank holiday feel to it. The ideal opportunity for a racing shop window.

The bookmakers had turned out in force too, some so keen it appeared that they were so early they almost beat the gate-men. The atmosphere was buoyant, probably a combination of a decent-sized crowd in front of them and the much-welcomed appearance of the sun at long last.  If things were rosy in the ring before racing the bookmakers were positively beaming after 16/1 Fuzzy Logic, the outsider of five, won the opener.  Despite much of the business being small there were still some good-sized bets to keep the layers on their toes, all of which stayed in the hods.

With the excellent atmosphere, loads of new faces (and potentially long-term clients) in attendance and cash in the satchel the bookmakers were in full public relations mode. The ideal opportunity to get people to feel comfortable betting in the ring. After all for a lot of us the betting ring  is second nature, and for some a second home, but it can be daunting for someone new to racing. After all, it would be so much easier and possibly more comfortable for the uninitiated  to bet with the Tote or in the betting shop. Yes the bookies were on a charm offensive.

At least you would think that’s how it would work wouldn’t you.

The third race on the card was a 17-runner handicap. Traditional odds would be 1/4 a place which a few layers bet to, most went 1/5 and one 1/6 the odds.  OK, we all know that in this particular race the place terms would favour the punters, at least on paper but would it have really hurt to play the game on a day like today? They probably didn’t deserve the 16/1 winner to be honest.

That was bad enough but a small section of the Exeter betting ring really excelled themselves in the 4.10. It was a nine-runner Hunters’ Chase with an odds-on favourite. OK once again not ideal for betting each-way if you are a bookie. The traditional odds should have been 1/5 which some bet to, others bet 1/6 but three that I saw bet to 1/7 the odds a place. Now if that wasn’t bad enough, you just sort of know that the novice punters queuing up to have their couple of quid each-way aren’t looking at the bottom line of the bookmaker’s board to see what terms they are getting. No they are clueless and just betting to the odds they can see in front of them. The final insult to injury is that those books were generally the same odds as their neighbours. The 4/9 favourite finished third behind a 20/1 winner and 66/1 runner-up with the well-backed odds-on jolly in the frame third meaning they only had two places to pay out on anyway.

The rest of the card passed with more ring-friendly results including the 28/1 winner of the last.

When I worked in the ring with bookmakers we had to continuously try and battle against the stereotypical view held by a lot of punters. That was that we were all graspers that would have them over at the drop of a hat. We did our level best over decades to try and convince them that we were in fact sporting gentlemen of the turf. With the majority of layers that is still the case. However, seeing the way some firms do business you do start to wonder.

Sadly, when betting rings are in serious decline, some ‘bookmakers’ are their own worst enemy.

Simon Nott


6 responses to this post.

  1. Some Traders will plough on with their moronic pratcices – until such time as it’s either outlawed by tracks, or they’re out of business. There’s no third option


  2. Posted by Mel Attreed on April 3, 2013 at 1:28 pm

    Our business is in serious decline, no gentlemen we are not on a slippery slope, we are on a sheet of ice ! these dead brain so called Bookmakers are putting the final nail in the coffin, act now, or we dont have a business in 5 years!


  3. Posted by Lingers Punter on April 3, 2013 at 4:15 pm

    Get this at Saturday evening meetings in Summer at Lingfield Park. 1/6 and 1/7 the odds. First 3 not first 4 in large field handicaps. Ian Moss and Wayne Jonathan most frequent offenders.
    While it must be tempting to mug the once year hunters with a drink inside them, all it achieves is to deter them from betting more regularly or drive them to the tote or betting online. Regulars just don’t bet with the rip off merchants.


  4. Posted by John Carney on April 3, 2013 at 7:18 pm

    When I attend, I like to point out to the “innocent” as I pass them by, how they are being ripped off, it’s especially gratifying when the offender hears me, I, actually, stop, then, and let a few more know. Fair’s fair, if they are shafting the gullible, I’ll shaft them, btw, none of them have ever said, or tried to do anything about it, to me, at least not as far as I’m aware, but, should that happen I’ll attend to that, too!


  5. Posted by robert reilly on April 3, 2013 at 7:24 pm

    punters dont bet with these bookmakers always look for the right ones in the ring


    • Sadly, novice punters on these sorts of days don’t know any better. Unless the bookmaker makes a huge point that they are 1/7th the odds (which they don’t) they are just dipping the pockets of their customers.


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