Tales From The Betting Ring – Sandown 24//07/13


Travis were gracing the main-stage and the feature attraction at Sandown tonight, after six horse races of course. They sounded great at sound-check and were apparently in top form to please their faithful non-racing fans who had paid upward of £35 to see them strut their stuff. The last time I saw Travis, which was at Reading Festival a few years back, they had to follow Green Day, who had just finished their set by setting fire to their drum kit, they found that a difficult act to follow. The concluding handicap tonight would no doubt be a little easier.

The trouble is with getting chart-topping superstar musical acts in is that someone has to pay for it. Travis fans obviously thought the ticket price was cheap because there appeared to be plenty of them. The bookies weren’t quite so keen having seen their badge fee magnified in accordance with the entry fee. Add to that Travis fans appeared not to be too keen to bet either. At least not in the first couple of races, possibly fearing the worst.  If I quoted every moan from the ring and rails about lack of business this blog wouldn’t make very light-hearted reading so I won’t, but in summary, if two bob was still legal tender, business wouldn’t have been worth it. The first two favourites won though so maybe there was some sort of blessing in the lack of punters early.

Stop pushing lads, you'll all be on!

Stop pushing lads, you’ll all be on!

It seemed things did look up a bit for at least a couple of books on the rails in the third when a few intrepid backers decided to get stuck into the odds-on jolly. Those investors probably weren’t all that happy to see it finish third, but today my sympathies lie with those poor old bookies. After all, they had to pay a fortune to bet on an event that they tell me was putting off ‘real punters’. ‘Bring back Madness’ was the call from Pete Houghton, on enquiry he told me that he had taken ten times as much from fans of the 80’s nutty boys last week, literally. The bookmakers got the favourite beaten in the fourth, you had to feel for the ring still though, ‘Are you all done lads’ called one layer I’m sure as he had done for years as the horses were loading. The trouble was the only people in front of him were sat on the grass and paying no attention and even if they did, probably didn’t have a clue what ‘All done’ was all about anyway.

Are you all done lads?

Are you all done lads?

One old-timer on hearing all the grumbles about the cost of getting in, not from the racegoers, they all seemed happy, but the bookies, decided to comment. ‘Well,’ he said with a long drawn-out breath, ‘I expect that Travis cost a good five grand’. Now I’m no expert on how much bands get these days but I’d guess he was a little under, I didn’t have time to take issue with him though, he was off to have a bet. A shilling each-way no doubt.

Just when it seemed all was lost and the evening would be reported as useless for betting purposes, the fifth race came alive, sort of. A mystery cash punter had a three-figure sum, each-way on a 14/1 shot. It made the bookie jump, but not the horse run faster. Glynn Jones reported a four-figure bet at 3/1, there were monkeys, carpets and roufs banded about too, the ring was on fire. Then they all got beaten behind 6/1 shot Short Squeeze, aye aye the ring!

It didn’t last long though, Porcini won the last at 3/1 with a 16/1 shot second with the 11/4 favourite unplaced. ‘I took two decent bets’ said one front row Tatts book before adding with a sigh,  ‘A lump on the winner and a chunk  the second, each-way’. I didn’t like to ask how much. ‘Anyone seen a punter?’ came the cry from Peter O’Toole down near the stage. If he’d asked earlier I’m sure one layer would have happily passed a couple of bets his way, oh for the benefit of hindsight.

Every cloud.....

Every cloud…..

One silver lining, I didn’t stay for Travis but do remember that they have several popular but melancholic bordering on miserable tunes. The ideal soundtrack for packing away on a not so busy night when you ran into the winners I’d wager.

(c) Simon Nott.

For anyone that might be interested, I was interviewed on betting and betting rings recently, that interview has now been published on-line and can be viewed here http://www.bettingexpert.com/blog/talking-betting-simon-nott

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