Tales From The Betting Ring – Salisbury – 11/06/13


Enthusiasm for the day’s racing was tempered somewhat as the news of Henry Cecil’s death filtered through to the course. It was nice that the racecourse held a one minute silence as a mark of respect. The bookies to a man stopped betting, most of the course fell silent. Sadly there were a couple of people in the  ignorant minority that continued to hold their conversations seemingly oblivious to the glares in their direction.

The minute silence over betting got underway again, and with it the gentle ribbing that goes alongside. Anyone that might have read this blog previously may remember that bookie Paul Metcalfe has been incapacitated of late due to a broken ankle. Well I am pleased to report that he no longer needs to aid of his trusty sidekick Ian and a wheelchair to get around. No, he has progressed to a contraption known as a ‘knee scooter’. I have to admit that it is a new one on me. Paul is very taken with it, though did admit to some apprehension as to the abuse he was bound to endure at Royal Ascot next week on his daily scoot  in and out of the ring. Surely not from his bookmaking brethren?

Paul’s firm, Jack Bevan and Co seemed to be in a benevolent mood despite the boss’s temporary handicap. They were handing out free £2 bets to everyone who bet £2 or above with them in the first. Whiles stocks of the free coupons lasted of course. Come racing for value! There was another well-loved face back in the ring today, ex-bookie Johnny Deane was having a day out at the track. His nickname used to be ‘Meldew’, he seemed a lot more cheerful today, he must be enjoying his retirement.

The weather wasn’t too special for the first race. I managed to take shelter under the steps in members, it was surprisingly sparse under there. That is quite strange as it is usually the hangout of the ‘Millionaire (old) Boys’ Club’ who were conspicuous by their absence. ‘Fontwell Park’ was the reason according to a racegoer who had obviously spotted my possibly confused look. That would explain it though.

The second race saw a bit of a stampede of money for Baker Man who was supported from around 20/1 into 7/1.  He could only manage fifth behind 12/1 winner Lone Warrior though stumbled in the race and could be worth watching next time, though I’m hardly a tipping service.  Having said that, there is another one that might be worth noting in the future too. Kyllachy Rise won the third easily at odds-on but there was plenty of decent money, from I am reliably informed usually very shrewd sources, on fourth-placed Muthmir including one bet of £2000.

There were some good bets reported on the rails throughout the day but it was a different story in Tatts where bookmakers were finding it hard to field a grand let alone attract a grand bet. Just as well the punter that backed Pompeia to win a shade under £30,000 at 15/2 didn’t try out there. The bookie that did lay it on the rails must have what has been described in some quarters as a ‘ring of steel’ but was rewarded for his courage or hedging skills by getting it beaten.

Meanwhile, back at the Jack Bevan joint, a punter was quite shocked to see who he thought was ‘That Geo-Phys bloke from Time Team’ working on the pitch. Of course if you are a racecourse regular in the south rather than an avid fan of the popular archaeological TV show you’d know that Ian who works on the Bevan joint, knows nothing about ‘Geo-Phys’. The nearest he comes to it is still insisting that the firm still has a stash of white fivers hidden somewhere in the hod. But for the sake of argument, will the real Ian and that brainy bloke from the telly please stand up.

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Armaloft Alex hadn’t been sighted all day. I assumed that he was with the MBC at Fontwell. Despite being a good couple of generations younger than most of them appears to be an honorary member. Not so, he had been  having, in his own words a ‘Dayous horribilis ‘ quietly doing his cobblers without even the sniff of a guilty premature arm celebration as consolation.

One bookmaker that did have his arm up, unashamedly a long way out, really temping fate then laughing in its face cheering home Sunny Future who won the penultimate at 8/1 from 10/1. It transpired he had just had it spark off, so much so that he ordered to team to pack up before the last and leg it with the winnings.

Just as well as the joint-jollies battled it out for the finale. Some days some people just can’t help getting it all right. I know, horrible isn’t it.

(c) Simon Nott

@SimonNott

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