Tales From The Betting Ring – Royal Ascot – Day Four.


I’m sure everyone will be glad to know that Bobby got his bags back from the airline so was in attendance at the royal meeting, albeit a day late. He was just leaving friends at one of the grandstand bars when I arrived. He said he’d just turned down an offer of drinks in a lofty box too. He much preferred to swagger around the racecourse catching up with old faces. Have you seen that recent Southern Comfort advert with the guy in the speedos walking confidently down the beach? Well that was him, just in clothes and with a big smile.

One of the betting areas I’d not visited this week was the  by the pavilion behind the grandstand so once given a nudge thought I’d better head down there so see how the mop was flopping. Shaun and Jo were there at the end of a line of four betting for Barry Johnson who had five pitches in total, covering most bases. They were already doing a steady trade and planning the evening’s activities. Shaun was all over a night out but it seemed that Jo was fighting her inner conscience, sensible night in and fresh for work tomorrow or night out with the girls and gamble on no hangover. After the fourth day working in the sun at Ascot I know where my money is going.

4/6 Going out tonight, 5/4 staying in.....

4/6 Going out tonight, 5/4 staying in…..

Over by the paddock Dave Spice was plying his trade and taking on all-comers on the colour of the Queen’s hat once again. He’d copped three times in a row and was fearing the worst. He was also ruing laying his mate even-money blue and yellow coupled in the pub the night before. The punters appeared to be determined that yellow was going to feature at least once this week, so 5/4 it was. Grumpy Al had got the train in this morning not wishing to risk the foam-filled tyre on a Friday, he wasn’t going to follow up on doing his money in the hat market yesterday today not a chance, he could still be grumpy without doing more money.

Well nobody expected the Queen would be donning a white hat. That would have cheered Al up.  White was a 12/1 shot Dave Spice told me, now 12/1 in a guess the colour of the Queen’s hat market speak  is a right result, tantamount to a skinner. ‘Money Without Work’ would be the cry from Dave had the phrase already not been coined.

Down in the ring it looked a whole lot busier than yesterday, people were actually queuing to get on at times. Kiyoshi got the layers off to fair start at 8/1 thwarting the gamble on the Frankie Dettori ridden Sandiva in the opener. If the first race started off with healthy public money it was the big-hitters that got to work in the second. The rails were awash with lumps for Battle Of Marengo at around even-money. £20,000 bets and all rates down broadsides were being hurled into the rail, but the rail stayed firm. That despite the cry that ‘The ‘right’ people were on’ they wavered only to 10/11 at the off. The ‘right’ people may well have been on, but they were wrong. Fortunes were kept by those brave enough to look the lumpy punters in the eye, take them on and watch 15/2 Hillstar get the money

Maybe bolstered by their success the rumour mill said that one firm had taken a huge £100,000 – £7,000 each-way on Maureen. Depending on which side of the fence you sit you’d probably feel at least a little sorry for the intrepid punter when she finished just out of the money in fourth. The fourth race seemed a little quiet in comparison. So much so that some on the rail were passing time time playing a game of ‘Spot The Uncle’ people watching at the expense of the Royal Enclosure. It may seem slightly cruel but you’d be amazed how many contenders there are. Of course, those slightly rotund middle-aged men could actually be treating their nieces to a day at the races…

The sun was beating down by the fifth, gents were feeling the heat in their toppers and ladies the wrath of their fashion-footwear. More torture was about to be unleashed however. Those people who hate to learn about bookmakers suffering horribly please turn off your computer now, for those that enjoy it, read on with glee. Leading Light was the subject of an almighty plunge, 13/8 on course was smashed to smithereens under the weight of money that did not stop pouring into the ring from all directions including at least one off-course firm getting involved. The horse hosed in at 5/4 and did untold financial damage to layers in the process with some firms seemingly suffering telephone-number sized losses.

No bookie involved in that carnage was going to ‘get out’ on the 27-runner finale but at least the 25/1 winner Lightning Cloud would have eased the pain slightly, but only slightly. Maybe worth a short-priced double tomorrow, the Queen’s hat being yellow and Jo and Shaun down at the pavilions being slightly green first thing a shade of odds-on too!

Which way did the bookies money go?

Which way did the bookies money go?

(c) Simon Nott.

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