Tales From The Betting Ring – Wincanton 27/10/13


The talk before racing was all about the impending storm forecast to batter the region (hopefully) after racing. On my arrival on-course photographer Julian Herbert was looking through his long lens searching for commentator Richard Hoiles. Everyone’s favourite commentator had embarked on a walk of the course despite high winds and what looked like rain. He is of course ever the professional, which of course is commendable but he had been gone some time and had long-since disappeared from view. The mild-mannered and omni-concerned Herbert had become quite worried as to Richard’s welfare. Only for a short while though as he was soon happily calling to all in earshot that he had spotted him and he was on his return safe and sound.

Bookie Andy Smith was  looking for a weather angle too and suggested a reverse forecast in the first, an impossible looking 17-runner handicap hurdle, Young Hurricane and Torrential Raine. If you had followed his advice you would have done your money but Young Hurricane did scrape into fourth place and the money.

The second race of the day looked a lot easier to solve with Southfield Theatre sent off the 4/5 favourite after attracting a bet of an even £700. That sort of money changing hands was an exception to the rule though, Dave Hazell just gave me one of his trademark cheesy grins when I asked if anyone had troubled him with a lumpy one. Jim Clarke replied with a very tongue in cheek ‘I bluff all the big stuff’ and gave me a look that could whither.

Yes you can madam but you do realise a pound each-way is £2 don't you?

Yes you can madam but you do realise a pound each-way is £2 don’t you?

The bookies did get a result in the next, another race that attracted a big field, this time 16 runners. Of those combatants only seven completed, six of them behind 25/1 shot Deciding Moment. ‘We didn’t get much, there is a huge crowd but they are aren’t betting’ was one bookmaker’s response when asked if he needed help closing the hod.  Andy Smith was vocal again prior to the fourth, apparently one of the big firms had priced up Highland Lodge at around 6/1 overnight, the Wincanton bookies had sent it off at 6/4. I won’t quote exactly but the rails operator’s comment was advising the people that priced up the race to put aside their comics and invest in a form-book. As it turned out they did get the jolly beaten but it took a David Pipe improver to foil the gamble when the market-leader failed to concede almost two stone to Standing Ovation, a 5/1 shot. There weren’t any particularly large bets but one Tatts layer at the ‘wrong’ end ran into a £1000-£200 which would have been nasty for him.

There were fun and games on the way to the start of the fifth. Long odds-on favourite Vicente was behaving very mulishly even unshipping his jockey at one point. If that wasn’t omen enough one bookmaker in a prime position decided to bet without the 1/3 shot. It has been noted than when this particular Midlands layer with a well-worn line in patter and natty suits of Asian origins bets without a jolly they generally get beaten.  Some surprise then that there were plenty of takers betting odds-on, one layer on the rails was keen to get stuck into the short one. He got his reward when the favourite could only manage fourth. I thought his grin was big enough as it was but then it transpired he had also backed the winner Minnellaforleisure, without the favourite, to a decent sum, with the only bookie betting without. So while most layers celebrated getting the short one beat, the firm from Leicester were contemplating a long drive home.

The last race was run in very rapidly diminishing daylight after 9/1 shot Looking Hopefully ran away with his jockey and proceeded to do a fair job of looking to ensure the golf course’s groundsmen get a fair bit of overtime repairing greens. The horse galloped around for what seemed like an age, probably longer for jockey David Bass,  who could do little more than hold on for dear life and wait for the beast to tire itself out before being withdrawn. The 9/2 favourite Theatrelands eventually won the race subject to a 10p rule 4 ending a day of mixed fortunes win or lose with an few hours to batten down the hatches. Lucky I don’t have a hatch to batten.

(c) Simon Nott

My brand new book entitled ‘Skint Mob! – Tales From The Betting Ring’ will be available in November, watch this space.

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