Tales From The Betting Ring – Ascot 07/04/2013


I backed my first winner before I even got into the course proper. How I wasn’t wiped out by the guy in the estate that came hurtling toward to me as I was getting directed into the press carpark I’ll never know. Getting the car written off on day one of a two-day stint would have been a right pain. My guess is he (with a car full of people) was charging in to watch the charity race, he was definitely wearing metaphorical blinkers. The near miss gave me the collywobbles for a bit that’s for sure. I was more interested in a strong coffee than watching the  race I assume he thought was dicing with death in  the rush to see. It seemed a bit weird to have it at 12.30, almost two hours before the first race proper so I doubt there was any betting on it or that many people there to enjoy it.

The bookies were probably too busy still counting their winnings from their jaunts up to Liverpool to worry about pricing up a charity race anyhow. One front row layer did try to play down how much they must have copped by telling me how much he had paid out over one of the other ‘results’ of the meeting. He must have clocked the incredulous look on my face. He gave up but just stopped short of  conceding  that they had had it spark off. Believe it or not the same bookie, almost, and I say almost, looked guilty when it transpired that 40/1 shot Forresters Folly had won the opener. Another skinner for their books despite virtually all observers, including the usually spot-on cameraman, thinking Warden Hill had won. They were only a nose out.

Of course, as these are bookmakers that we are talking about, there were moans that business was a bit thin in the first despite the good crowd. Things picked up in the next with the help of one firm getting involved in a small way. Not on the winner though. Victor Leudorum was  another result for the ring, at least on paper at 16/1 but had been a pony so wasn’t a total surprise in some quarters.

Race three was a 16-runner handicap. Now I don’t want to bore people to death banging on and on about the place terms that books in the ring bet to. The vast majority went 1/5 the odds a place which is fast becoming the norm though the hardcore few on the rails are keeping the flag flying betting 1/4. Yes the punters do have the edge in these races, as opposed to the bookies having it the bulk of the time. Many businesses have a loss-leader that they absorb for the better good so fair play to those that take the same approach continue to offer the punters value. One of these bookmakers was incandescent with rage that another rails firm was betting to 1/6th, yes on the rails at Ascot, surely there’s little to justify it.  Aptly named 4/1 shot Calculated Risk won the race, you’d have to hope that at least one firm stood it for their maximum.

Well -fancied horses winning didn’t last for long, 11/1 shot Fairy Rath took the next, though it had been 14/1 so someone somewhere had a tickle. Not with one layer you’d assume who was later reported to have been celebrating with the winning connections, who happened to include Mrs Jeremy Kyle.  There didn’t seem to be many others in the ring that had laid it either mind. A cheerful bookmaker volunteered the information  that they had now got a few quid in front and were now ‘snapping the elastic bands around the winnings’. Maybe a race too soon because the next winner went in a 10/1.

The penultimate had the ring in a bit of a spin. There appeared to be a right old touch going down on Tim Vaughan’s Ballyrock whose price collapsed from 12/1 into 4/1. Appearances can be deceptive these days though, it looks as if it was an increasingly common case of the exchange tail wagging the on-course dog. Those sorts of gambles can be self-perpetuating though and there was a rumour that one firm had laid a £4000- £1000. Those who followed the money knew their fate a long way out when a blunder and a stirrupless jockey put paid to what ever might have been plotted. Not only did the books get that one beaten but were handed another near skinner with 33/1 winner Regal Presence.

Judging by their long faces the firm that had pretty much shut up shop by snapping their elastic  realised that they had done it wrong even though they’d got it right. No surprise then that they decided to call it a day and pack up and head for home before the concluding Hunters’ Chase. The jolly won that one. Not bad judges after all.

One happy footnote, at least for me personally. Anyone who read my blog over Cheltenham will know that I had set my heart on buying a tweed jacket and waistcoat from the profits of an ante-post punt when Reve de Sivola won the World Hurdle. As we all know, Reve didn’t quite make the frame and Geoff Banks kept my money. But Timothy Foxx got a sale anyway.  Well that nice Geoff was offering a free £5 each-way bet on the Grand National to existing clients, I followed my mate Andrew Mount’s advice and had it on Aurora’s Encore. Geoff laid me 80/1. What a gentleman, you paid for it in the end, thanks very much. Aye Aye!

simon tfoxx

(c) Simon Nott

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One response to this post.

  1. Why were the books moaning about the thin trade when there was a decent crowd and then the majority bet ew 1/5th on the big handicap race ? madness, it is 2013 not 1983 ! How many punters were placing bets on their mobiles at the track, getting 1/4 ? When will the on-course books realise that they must modernise , I have worked/owned pitches on-course but then realised that it was on a downward trend and put all my efforts in promoting my off course business.

    Reply

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