Tales From The Betting Ring – Cheltenham 17/04/13

Wednesday at Cheltenham saw a 7-race card and a mixture of big-field handicaps and some short ones to get stuck into. Puffin Billy was expected to go off odds-on in the opener but was weak in the market drifting to odds against in the face of serious support for forecast second-in Whisper. Despite the weakness of the the jolly there was no shortage of on-course support for it with several three and four figure bets reported in the ring and on the rails. That support was badly-placed as the gamble on Whisper, eventually sent off at 9/4 was landed. It was a bit heartbreaking for the layers as over the last it looked like they might get a right result with both short ones beaten by 12/1 shot Valdez, but it was not to be.

The big handicaps were largely non-events for many of the books. Maybe the punters thought they were just too tricky but turnover was reported to be very light. The trouble was for those that took any bets of size the winner was found by a three-figure wager in almost every race. When those SPs were in double figures it was nasty for those who took the punters on, all a bit of a lottery said one.

The feature race of the day ended up in the favourite, Champion Court winning. If that wasn’t bad enough, once again the bookies had the cup snatched from their lips. The jolly looked certain to win turning for home, was then headed by Menorah only to rally up the hill to land some lumpy bets.

The penultimate four-runner Novice’s Chase saw some spirited betting mostly around the first three in the market. I was privvy to a fairly humorous scene where it took two bookmakers, a workman and a pen and paper to work out how much a £360 bet at 5/2 took out. I don’t know, these computers have bred rusty brains, though no doubt a return to pencil and field book clerking would soon oil those cogs. The layers could hardly believe their luck when Ackertac the outsider of four won the race. One back-row bookie was beaming, I asked if he’d had if off, he replied in the positive and admitted he had stood the favourite for his maximum. Then added that he’d copped enough to get out on the day. That sort of sums up how things were generally going unless they’d managed to miss the winners of the handicaps. He looked as if he was considering  going home. Hopefully he didn’t because a gamble on Nampour went astray in the last with the other fancied runner My Mole a nose and a neck being the lesser-fancied Starluck.

There has been a little bit of banter both on Twitter and elsewhere regarding my comments in the last blog on place odds at Exeter. Despite all of that everyone is still friendly although differing on how to do business. One of the teams involved was planning eating out with another firm tonight. With a twinkle in his eye one of the firm said he was going to have a light-hearted chat about betting to 1/6 the place. Then with a wicked grin said that he was going to make a practical example of how unfair it was to skim the place money, by helping himself to some of the other teams’ steak and chips when they weren’t looking. Can’t wait to hear how that went, watch this space!

photo (3)

(c) Simon Nott


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