Tales From The Betting Ring -Royal Ascot – Day Five.


As fun as it is, if you have been at Royal Ascot since Tuesday you are starting to dig into stamina reserves by the last (and busiest) day of the week. The gates opened at 10.30 and there were plenty of people keen to get in at that time. Most would have passed the bookies at the parade ring which included the two betting on the colour of the Queen’s hat. Dave Spice confirmed that they had done well on the market all four days with the Queen proving most unpredictable in her choice of head-wear. It was ground-hog day again as far as the betting went, yellow the jolly, blue the second-in. As we were chatting, Dave braced himself and straightened his tie as Luke Harvey strode earnestly toward him. Then straight past. Not only had the original Queen’s hat firm faced the ignominy of another bookmaker muscling in on ‘their’ market he was now stealing their media thunder too. A brave face was put on however, and after all, it was only radio.

Where do you think you are in that hat, Goodwood?

Where do you think you are in that hat, Goodwood?

Definitely in vision prior to racing were two of the nicest people  in racing. Ian Bartlett and Richard Hoiles were up there on the racecourse big screens giving racegoers the benefit of their considerable knowledge. ‘They are definitely the Ant and Dec of the racing world’ observed one viewer. It was meant as a compliment I am sure, they definitely are a great double-act without the cheesy grins and comedy facial expressions.

Racing's answer to Ant and Dec, but which one is which?

Racing’s answer to Ant and Dec, but which one is which?

We had been lucky with the weather so far this week despite the less than positive forecasts but it did look as if we were going to finally cop it today. The rain was teeming down when the royal procession made its way down the course. So much so that the Queen’s party had their umbrellas up. That was pretty frustrating for those who had lumped on in the millinery market. It wasn’t until the carriages hit the furlong pole that the colour was visible. Blue. ‘We’ve done our cobblers’ said Dave Spice. Finally one for the punters, though not those that had been sticking with yellow.  A certainty next year surely……

The ring and rails were busy with punters despite the rain with some chunky bets being bandied about. First blood went to the bookies with 16/1 Berkshire getting the better of 11/4 jolly Bunker. Not everyone was happy, ‘First bet of the day I laid was 20/1 the winner’ grumbled one bookmaker who certainly likes a light-hearted grumble. Yes well it might have been but don’t tell me you lost on it.

Not to worry about getting the topper wet, it's only hired!

Not to worry about getting the topper wet, it’s only hired!

Thomas Chippendale was another fair result for the ring at 8/1 but their celebrations and that of those who had backed him were tempered when the colt sadly collapsed and died shortly after the race.

The sun was out by the third and betting spirited. There had been a talk all week that there were at least a couple of firms that were looking at a nasty payout if Slade Power won the Diamond Jubilee Stakes.The colt was the second leg of a chunky each-way double with Sole Power, the winner of Tuesday’s King Stand Stakes. Not one to want to pass on untruths I asked the bookmaker rumoured to have placed the wager if indeed this was the case and they confirmed it was. ‘More than one firm’ would be worried I was told with a smile.

Sadly those sweating had a lucky escape when Slade Power only managed 7th after rearing in the stalls and getting away slowly  never really giving much hope that the bet would be landed. There was another firm who needed nerves of steel too. One rails layer took a colossal bet of £165,000 – £5000 each-way on 33/1 shot Havelock, he was no doubt mighty relieved that it never really got into the race under Frankie Dettori.

I had a brief chat with a large-staking punter of some repute during betting on the fourth. He confided, maybe not the right word now that I am writing about it here, that he wasn’t having the best, not just day, but meeting. He added that the way things were going he’d not be just telling a tale of woe but filling a book with them. Undeterred however he then marched into Geoff Banks and appeared to have a man-sized bet. He was soon followed by the Channel 4 Racing team who wanted a chat rather than a wager. It is amazing how many people will queue to have a bet with a bookie who is on camera. It happens all the time while his neighbours with the same prices or better watch on incredulously. I can confirm that the well-heeled appear to hanker after their fleeting walk-on brush with fame just as much as some in Tatts on a regular Saturday.

So Geoff, where do you find such photogenic staff?

So Geoff, where do you find such photogenic staff?

The weather played ball for the rest of the afternoon and the brollies stayed down. The jollies were conspicuous by their absence too. Not one winning a favourite for the punters on the concluding day almost certainly ensured that the ring had a winning  meeting. Two of the biggest players on the rails had called it a day before the last and were heading home when 8/1 shot Chiberta King won it. Spare a thought for one bookmaker though. He had been taking on some big each-way bets all day and generally getting them beaten but managed to run into a £24,000-£3000 in the last. Now that is going to knock anyone’s day about a bit isn’t it.

So that was Royal Ascot over for another year, and what a fantastic week it was, there is nothing quite like Royal Ascot but I have to admit that by the lucky last I was ready to take the weight off my feet. Here’s looking forward to the relative tranquillity of Salisbury on Wednesday.

(C) Simon Nott

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