Tales From The Betting Ring – Cheltenham 15/11/13

Day one of the eagerly awaited Open meeting at Cheltenham and there were bookies everywhere. Down by the paddock, The Centaur, Lower Tatts Rails that bit, I forget its name, overlooking the paddock  and of course Tatts. They were keen to get going too with 15/8 shot Standing Ovation to get stuck into. There were a few takers but the business was hardly Festival-like but you wouldn’t expect it to be. Having said that there was a lump of money going around for Victrix Gale though including a £10,000 – £1600 each-way, come racing get the fractions, and some small but sustained support for Handy Andy.

Some sages had suggested that the latter was a ‘Newbury’ horse so dismissed his obvious chance. In hindsight that was a mistake because Colin Tizzard’s charge discounted that theory winning nicly. Not before 50/1 ‘result’ Charingworth gave the bookies more than a faint glimmer for some of the race that they may kick the meeting off in grand style but it was not to be.

It’s not a bad start getting the jolly beaten though. Oh and the each-way lumps out of the frame too, 4th, how do you feel if you backed it?

The warm glow of a happy betting ring.

The warm glow of a happy betting ring.

The second race on the card, sponsored by Paddy Power, looked like a tricky heat to solve with betting 11/2 the field chunky bets were rarer than hens’ teeth. ‘I haven’t taken a bet worth mentioning’ bemoaned Neville on the rails, before adding, ‘and I’m still right in it’. No doubt much of the ring were the same and just let the punters make their books. Anay Turge was the 9/1 ‘middle-pin’ winner so probably good for some and bad for others.

Oscar Whisky was the first short one of the meeting to get stuck into and so some did. Bets of £5000 and a whole host of lesser chunks were reported at around the 8/11 mark the last I saw being a grand at 4/6 at the bottom of the rails. That little lot stayed with the bookies who stuck it in their hods and snapped the lock, as several appeared to have done. The winner was second-in but usually getting the odds-on beaten is enough to coax a smile from most layers.

Top Gamble was aptly named, at least the second part of the name with plenty of money for it at around the 9/2 mark. Regardless if it was thought to be inspired money, or the fact that the race was a memorial to the late David Johnson and the subject of the money was a David Pipe trained horse with the obvious connection, it got left behind too. The bookies were left flush after Thomas Crapper won the race at 16/1 with Top Gamble’s backers caught short back in the field.

There was a warm glow about the ring going into the Glenfarclas sponsored Cross Country race. Maybe the books were starting to stick their chests out, but for what ever reason a few of them laid 7/4 Balthazar King. Now when I was working in the ring this was always known as the race where the horses went around and around until the favourite won. And so it was, at a plunged on 5/4. Diamond Harry did look to be travelling well at one point but flattered to deceive whilst the apparent confidence in Chicago Grey resulting in some sizeable bets including a £7000-£1000 amounted to nothing on course. The favourite had to work to win but win it did, a length too good at the line.

Maybe bolstered by that success the punters seemed to get the taste for the jollies and emptied their pockets in the lucky last on Irish raider Quick Jack. some got on at 5/2 before the prices were Hoovered into 15/8. There did look to be a race on approaching the final hurdle but the punters got the money by just over two lengths at the line. One rails layer was heard to mutter something along the lines of ‘A whole days hard work given back’. Oh dear. Let’s the hope the elastic bands went around the winnings on some other pitches before they gave it all back, I suspect they did.

Besides bookies, down get downhearted, Friday is only an early skirmish, the real battle commences tomorrow.

(C) Simon Nott.

By the way, my book, (my first) is available now, it charts the characters and events I have known working in the betting ring over the last 30 years. Incidentally, the first time I ever went racing was tomorrow’s meeting, when it was the Mackeson back in 1983, so tomorrow is my anniversary. Anyway, it’s £9.99 entitled ‘Skint Mob – Tales From The Betting Ring’  and details are here


Skint Mob - Tales From The Betting Ring

Skint Mob – Tales From The Betting Ring


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