Tales From The Betting Ring – Goodwood/Salisbury


The weekend saw the welcome return of two of my favourite courses, Goodwood and Salisbury. Both are a joy to attend, Goodwood really is glorious in many ways, not least the setting and unique ambiance. Salisbury for the atmosphere and closeness to the action. As far as the bookies were concerned they appeared to be happy to be back  for the bank holiday weekend, most of them. 

Bank holiday meetings do mean that there are going to be plenty of people in attendance and that the bookies are going to be busy fielding lots of small money. Small and regular rather than sparse and lumpy is the name of the game as well as patience in bucket-loads and plenty of change. Unless things have changed much since I worked on a joint you will be forever printing out reams of £2 e/w tickets only to be greeted with an expression of shock, embarrassment and horror when you ask for double the money the punter expected to pay. Yes madam, £2 e/w is £4. Mind you, my old boss and sage of the ring, Jack Lynn always used to say, ‘Small fish are sweetest’ and it’s true, a never ending queue of novice punters having bets because of the colour of the jockey’s silks and the horse’s name is much better than a shark calling in a £1000-£180 e/w on the basis of his well-marked card. (Always ask for fractions, see my previous blog.)

Due to the very nature of the betting ring these days, where sticking your head over the odds parapet is likely to see it quickly picked off, bookies are looking for different ways to stand out from the crowd in a sea of odds uniformity. Surprisingly that does not seem to be too hard. It does appear that where there was once a huge personality on the joint calling out the odds and calling in his punters there is now more often a furrowed brow peering into a computer screen, pausing to look up only when someone asks for a bet. Any bookie bucking that trend is likely to take the money. It is true there are some layers that hate these sort of ‘public’ days with a vengeance, one prominent London bookmaker spat out that almost every bet was a fiver and that was because he had the fiver sign up but they’d all bet him a pound if he’d let them. Safe to say the holiday crowds aren’t his game. 

On the other hand there are some that revel in bank holiday business. There are some that just rely on just their charisma and public persona, one on the rails particularly that does not need any introduction. Others employ attractive young ladies to field the money hoping to attract the young lads in to bet with them rather than the grumpy old grizzler next door. Then you have the likes of Big Jim, flamboyant and colourful with a cheery smile, free sweets and willing to accommodate the smallest of wagers.

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There is one guy that is after the same customers but does so in a much cheekier manner. It has long been noted in bookmaking circles that ladies will often back a horse with a slightly risqué name despite of the price or perceived chance. It appears that this one layer has attempted to take that one stage further, not content to wait to go down the book a no-hoper with a double-entendre  he’s trying for same same effect on every race. Not to be outdone by his humorous but slightly miserably re-named rival ‘Bill No Mates’  I am reliably informed that the bookie with the big grin  betting just down the line at Salisbury isn’t really named ‘Ivor Biggun.’  Judging by the lengthy giggly queue  happy to wait in line for his services it did appear as if his cheeky ploy was big hit with the girls!

 

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(c) Simon Nott

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