Tales From The Betting Ring – Ladies Day. (Day 3)

If the market on the Queen’s hat hadn’t really taken off on day one it was taking off today. Dave Spice, betting by the parade ring, has become something of a tradition taking wagers on the colour of the monarch’s millinery in recent years. It was no different this renewal except he had a rival, a big-meetings only layer had turned up to try and steal his thunder with his own Queen’s hat board. Luckily for Dave, he and his cohort on the joint have looks and youth on their side so still attracted the vast majority of attention and bets. Dave did let on that yellow was the buzzer for the day but grey had also been a popular choice with those in the know and that those colours would both cost him plenty.

You can't be looking, bet here to win millions on the  monarch's millinery.

You can’t be looking, bet here to win millions on the monarch’s millinery.

I left them to it and made my way down to the Silver Ring where it was heaving and oozing atmosphere. Lucy Hazell was already taking bets with her mum fresh from her Morning Line appearance and all seemed well. Sadly the same couldn’t be said for Martyn Of Leicester. ‘They’ve turned the phone signal off because the Queen is coming’ he shouted, a foot from his unanswered phone and not too far from his staff already hard at work accepting wagers. I wasn’t sure who ‘they’ were, but they hadn’t. His clerk Nikki could do more than roll her eyes and sigh as the hysteria faded when he did get through after all. Just in time for right-hand man Ian to advise a couple glamorously clad ladies on the art of betting. Sadly they decided to give it a swerve and finish their wine instead.

Don't be shy, he's just grumpy.

Don’t be shy, he’s just grumpy.

Big Al had once again made it to that races on Tuesday’s foam. Not only that, he was in possession of a mighty fine pair of bins, huge in fact. He hadn’t splashed out on them with the money he had saved on not buying a tyre that needs air. These had cost him just £29.99, bargain. To make things better, he knew the colour of the Queen’s hat too. ‘Yellow’.

Purple has always been a regent’s colour and she looked radiant in it around her ‘crown’ today. Big Al looked more crimson when the first glimpse of  the Queen came in to view on the big screen. For the rest of the week we’ll drop the moniker ‘big’ and replace it with ‘grumpy’. Not so Dave Spice, he had got the two bogies beaten and as already on the front foot going into the opener.

He was soon to be joined by most of the bookmakers in that demeanour, Grumpy Al that is, not Dave Spice. It wasn’t that No Nay Never won the opener backed from 11/2 into 4/1 but that the majority of them could take very few bets. The people were there, especially the ladies, but punters they were not. There were some lumps about but were confined to the one or two rails books. Race two was even worse, not a shilling on the rails. ‘Worst business I have ever known’ said one, ‘Useless’ puffed another through his pipe. Geoff Banks lightened proceedings slightly by putting on an affected accent and proclaiming to all and sundry ‘How terrible it was that a ‘dirt horse’ had won at Royal Ascot’.

If a mood lift was needed it soon arrived care of the Gold Cup. The Queen’s Estimate went off 7/2 favourite and landed the race by a neck. It was a joy to behold where I was just in on the rails. As it became apparent that the royal horse was likely to win all eyes turned to the Royal Box where every guest within appeared to be on their feet roaring like the rest of us, but with arms probably lofted higher. The big screen’s close-up gave everyone on the track the picture that was the beaming smile on the Queen’s face, joy just like the rest of us when we back a winner, even better, she owned it. Proper heart-warming it was too.

That feel-good factor was it though, 9/4 favourite Remote was the jolly sandwich between two 20/1 shots for the remaining races. Not nice for the bookie that laid at £67,500-£30,000. Even worse for those that took next to nothing on the ‘results’ . One rails bookie was so frustrated he showed me his computer print-out. Yes had a skinner, but what he had won would not have covered a quarter the stake of a bet he’d happily routinely  accept. Friday will be a punting day for sure, at least that was the hope as the ring packed up their kit.

All quiet on the betting front.

All quiet on the betting front.

Forget the bookies though have a thought for Bobby, he worked for Sam Harris for decades. Despite being on the AWOL list having retired to the sun a few years back he was back home and coming to Royal Ascot to celebrate his (50th?) birthday. Well he should have  been except his bag was lost by the airline. Instead of strutting his stuff in his top hat and tails greeting old friends and drinking from a chilled jeroboam of bubbly he was sat in his hotel. Not only that, but potless and still in the same clothes 24 hours after landing, those togs consisting of a  football team’s replica shirt complete with bean stains and jeans. Luckily for his friends he did make it to The Stag to greet us after racing, blow out his candle and sink a few beers.

There is no way you can see the bean stains.

There is no way you can see the bean stains.

It’s the first time I have stayed in Ascot High Street until after dark Royal week. It is lively and fun for sure, but by golly don’t they get drunk, and as for the men…………….

(c) Simon Nott


One response to this post.

  1. Good weeks write up Simon! Enjoy your well earned rest now. Just got round to reading the ones I missed .


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