Tales From The Betting Ring – Goodwood 25/05/13


The grumbles liberally sprinkled with profanities proliferated the racecourse prior to the first. Let’s just say the topic of most was that bane of the turf-traveller in summer months; caravans. Bank holiday weekends are by far the worst, fleets of these articulated vehicles lurch away from their usual static positions on drives around the country. Regardless of where you have been or where you are heading you will invariably be at some point stuck behind at least one. Most galling, and possibly somebodies idea of a joke from the outset, is if you happen behind one emblazoned with the legend ‘Sprinter’.

Caravan season always brings back fond memories of the late 1980’s and early 1990’s when I travelled the racecourses of the south and west with my first bookie boss. He was what can only be described as a real character who had, and still has, an opinion on most things. Caravans were one of his pet hates. When we were stuck being a swaying white obstruction just about tipping the 30 mph mark we didn’t have to wait long for him to start lambasting to nobody in particular. It was always the same, and always funny. ‘They are a menace’ he’d bark, ‘Bloody skint mob’ before adding, ‘If they can’t afford to go on holiday and stay in a hotel they should stay at home in their council house, menace, that’s what they are.’  I never did say he was PC.

I was chatting to a moustachioed punter of some repute just before the first. He too was having a little whine about the aforementioned. He paused to rummage in his pocket, brought out a packet of mints and offered me one. As I was gratefully accepting the tasty treat an eagle-eyed bookmaker shouted over and asked where his was. The punter quickly re-deposited the packet and muttered only if he ever got laid a bet over the odds. The bookie didn’t want a sweet that much.

The favourite refused to go in the stalls for the opener, that resulted in a 40p in the pound rule 4.  The 25/1 outsider of the field won the race. For most layers they were giving back most of their field money on what would have been a virtual skinned book rather than deducting winners. There were a few bookmaking  faces that looked like they had got the caravan-only laid the favourite double up.

A gamble went astray in the next, Ben Hall was supported from 8/1 into 5/1 but could only manage 4th. The bookies didn’t cheer up though because the winner was the favourite backed from 11/4 into 9/4. Business was reported to be very small but steady. I made the mistake of asking a layer on the second row if it was a case of  ‘Second row for value’.  Bit silly of me really. I was informed that he’d missed out on the front row by one, laid the next winner at 7/2 when it had been 5/1 and had still ‘done his money’. His final dissatisfied salvo was that he’d be taking untold bundles more money at the point to point he was off to tomorrow. That told me.

The favourite reared up and lost the race before it started in the next. That had had to be better news didn’t it. Not for the layer I asked, he said he hadn’t taken two bob and the winner was a loser. Noble Mission went off at 8/13 in the listed Tapster Stakes. The commentator, Ian Bartlett, whom I am reliably informed is ‘Bartie’ to his mates let us all know that the favourite looked like it might be in trouble. The bookies perked up. It might have looked in trouble for 100 yards, but that was no compensation for the ring. As they strained to see who was going to win and get the money for them they had the cup snatched from their lips. The equine athlete that whizzed past them at some speed, clear of the field was none other than the jolly. It looks like it will be Ian rather than Bartie to the bookies, at least if spotted in the car-park tonight.

Any further thoughts I had of asking the back-row layer how he was getting on were dismissed, he had a 13-runner handicap to price up. At least he was in the sunshine and had the point to look forward to.

(c) Simon Nott

It was glorious and it wasn't even Glorious Goodwood.

It was glorious and it wasn’t even Glorious Goodwood.

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One response to this post.

  1. Sublime as ever Simon!

    Reply

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