Tales From The Betting Ring – Kempton 23/09/13


I didn’t really expect to have much company at Kempton on a Monday so was pleasantly surprised to see a crowd that exceeded all expectations. A respectable crowd doesn’t mean the massed ranks of bookies were going to be kept busy though, massed ranks? Well there were nearly ten.

As is normal these days the layers were up early so I had a mosey along to see how things were shaping up. One bookmaker was showing patience of a saint explaining that £1 each-way was £2 to a lady with very rudimentary English. Almost simultaneously Paul of the Kelross firm was pointing out to an elderly gentleman that he had just handed over a ten Euro for his request of a ten pound bet. He did also point out that it was fine he could have ten Euros on, but no, the gentleman insisted he wanted ten Pounds and re-submitted the Euro note. It looked as if it could be a long day.

Where did you all spring from?

Where did you all spring from?

The forced smiles and humour were soon forgotten when the second race ended with a nasty incident which resulted in three jockeys hitting the deck and a horse with terrible injuries floundering right in front of the stands. The particularly distressing scene was compounded by what seemed like forever for anyone to come to the aid of the horse and put screens up around it. In fairness to the staff it probably wasn’t all that long at all but witnessing the dark reality of our sport is something we all want to be shielded from.

To further emphasise that our Monday racing that I was probably going to poke some gentle fun at can come at a high price for those equine and human that provide the action. Jockey Renato Souza was being tended to out on the track for quite some time before being stretchered off to hospital and was a very worrying sight.

All of the above was played out in something of a horrified silence from the crowd which was understandable. Not quite so understandable was the silence from the racecourse. Kempton are not usually shy about broadcasting on their PA system so it was quite strange that no information was forthcoming. The announcement that the next race would be late was given when it should have been off so hardly news, not the best customer service. They did redeem themselves somewhat later on with updated news on the jockey’s condition which seemed to be better new than at first anticipated.

Luckily it didn’t take long for the sport to bounce back with some good news. The owner of Queen’s Prize didn’t seem to be in attendance but the filly was perfectly named. I’m not sure that her majesty’s share of the £2279 purse money will change her standard of living too much but it will at least pay for RUK at her London des res. One assumes she already has it installed and was tuned in and was roaring  home the two-year-old accordingly.

Sadly for the bookies business remained very poor, hardly worth turning up for in fact accorded to those I spoke to. Still, it was a Monday, it’s undoubtedly better being at the races than in a proper job and the empty stable and newly occupied hospital bed put everything in perspective.

(C) Simon Nott

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