Tales From The Betting Ring – Sandown 06/06/13

The poor old traditional bookies’ clerk never stood a chance when computers hit the betting ring scene. The trusty guy with the pencil, furrowed brow, patience of a saint and omnipresent cigarette may have had a speedy mathematical brain but was no competition for a computer with printed tickets. Sadder still, many of these old boys had neither the keyboard skills or inclination to learn how to use the new technology so generally bowed out. They were replaced by bright young things for whom the simple process of taking bets punched into a computer was a doddle, learned in a day, not honed over years. The added bonus for the bookie boss was they didn’t have to know a thing about racing, so the potential employee pool was infinitely  multiplied. These days the art of clerking with a pencil and field book is one that is fast being forgotten. The bookmakers never really looked back as the last proper clerk closed the door behind him. The 21st century had arrived, and they were kicking on. All of that is fine of course, until the microchips throw a wobbly.

That is quite an elaborate premiss to set the scene for a rails bookie who was desperate to bet on the opener of six races at Sandown but whose computer packed up. All around him were fielding the cash while he watched on, one eye on the readies he wasn’t taking and the guy doing his best to fix the problem. Where was a decent clerk and a field book when he needed one? Eventually fix the problem he did, just in time for, ‘And they’re off’. As the sprint unfolded it looked like 33/1 shot Wiki Tiki was going to win. No doubt our rails bookie was willing it back, if he did, and concentrated hard enough, it worked. Chinned on the line by Honey Meadow, a 20/1 shot. ‘Aye Aye’ went the majority of the ring, Luckily I wasn’t in ear-shot of the bookie with the dodgy PC, I’d imagine his language wasn’t.

There were a couple of punters of repute down in the ring. One was pointed out  by another chap stood next to me. ‘Well I’m buggered’ he said, before adding ‘I think that is Tracksuit Dave down there, he’s the one in the top with horizontal stripes, and jeans’. Apparently it was the jeans that shocked him, ‘He always wears a tracksuit does Dave’ he went on, ‘I hope he’s not had to sell it’. Was he alluding to said Dave having done his equivalent of the rest of our metaphorical shirts recently? I’d hope not. The other punter, a well-known pro, also caught attention because of his attire. This time because he had so much of it on. It was a marvel that he wasn’t dripping sweat onto the paper he was talking into. Not only was he wearing a jumper but also a quilted jacket when there were plenty of shorts and shirt-sleeves in evidence. My mate thought he looked more dressed for Cheltenham and must have got confused but maybe he just needed lots of pockets for the cash.

If he’d back Frankie Dettori on Asian Trader he’d have needed another layer after the returning jockey got his long-awaited come-back winner at a well-supported 5/2.

There were a flurry of decent bets in the fourth on what had so far been a relatively modest night for lumpy bets. Both favourite and second favourites came in for chunk support. Both got beaten by Ashaadd at 8/1. When the dust settled it transpired that only a handful of layers up at the business end really took the money. Further down the line ‘Money without work’ said he had laid the winner at 10/1 and the rest were not bemoaning the lack of big bets but any at all.

The bookie that missed out betting on the first was packing up altogether by the time the betting got under way for the penultimate.  Kieren Fallon rode 5/1 shot Testudo to victory. One punter piped up and informed everyone in earshot (a little too late) that it was Fallon’s only ride of the night and we should have spotted and taken advantage of that. ‘He’s come here for one many a time and it’s got beat’ grumbled one fella near-by, safe to say he hadn’t backed it either then.

Cashpoint won the last and was 11/4f. One bookie laid a £1100 – £400, he paid that out in cash, can you get that from a normal hole in the wall? No you can’t, come racing.

(c) Simon Nott

photo (17)


2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Just a lady on June 9, 2013 at 1:06 pm

    Not all of us clerks are clurless sbout racing, and can still clerk without computers


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