Tales From The Betting Ring. Last of the summer whine?


I know people like to read about monster bets, big gambles and bookies doing their cobblers, yes even other bookies as long as it is about other bookies. Sadly most of the time a lot of the things rarely happen. In the summer months especially it is quite often about people on holiday making a day’s racing part of their trip. That means that the guys on the stools have to work hard in the blazing heat taking two quid bets, telling people that two quid each-way is four quid and generally earning the money they are invariably going to win from the novices.

Of course there are some firms that want to just take the odd lump here and there but most will tell you those sorts of bets are not as frequent as they used to be, the punters certainly aren’t as common as a decade or so ago. Evening meetings like Kempton on Wednesday are really ones to just accept that the large crowd of punters drawn from corporate entertainment and patrons of the Panoramic Restaurant may be keen to have a bet in all of the eight races but nobody is going to get rich, or end up poor. And so it was, busy but tiny was the word from the bookies.

On the plus side it was still in the high 20’s temperature-wise when the first was run and apart from the opening 16/1 winner, when most people were still being entertained or eating all the short ones were going in.   The weather was balmy, the racing pretty exciting and Kempton had done a grand job in getting a few people in. I did spot Mr and Mrs C of Oxford in the ring, they were quite surprised at the size of the crowd, their only previous experience of the Kempton all-weather was a put-in meeting in the winter where the place appeared to be just full of, in their words ‘owners and trainers’.

By the last, which is always one too many in an 8-race card, punters and bookies alike looked to be dozing in the heat.

Then. wham, one rails layer was rudely awoken with a cash bet of £6000-£1000, you never expected that did you? Nor did he, nor did the books along the line that received a double blast from the past, a hedge bet from a bookie, and called in fractions. They all laid the required bets, the horse got beaten and everyone went home happy. Well everyone except the punter I expect because having a grand one one to see it come 8th can’t be a lot of fun in anyone’s book.

photo (68)

Down the road at Salisbury on Thursday  was a similar affair, except it was a an afternoon. A couple of books did get the first odds-on shot bet on but most reported it was modest business but OK and nice in the sunshine.  The offices had a half-hearted pop at On Demand in the second but apart from that they were quiet too.  The trio of punters who bet in three-figures got some back on Joyeuse at odds-on in the fourth and did it again on No Heretic in the sixth. The highlight for a lot of layers seemed to be splashing out on a cornet not taking on punters with any relish.

photo (67)

Then once again, the surprise, a right old tickle or so it seemed on Threave in the penultimate, most books were either 40/1 or 33/1 when they opened, by the off the beast was 20/1. It won as it liked too. I expected to hear a roar from at least a gaggle of punters who had just had it spark off, but no, not a whimper, in fact I’d say the winner was greeted with tumble-weed-like silence as it passed the post. No gnashing of teeth from bookies either, one or two said they’d laid it, of course they did, they always do. But no, it seems as if the gamble was landed on the exchanges.

So they aren’t all bad then? Aye Aye.

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