Tales From The Betting Ring – Hennessy Heritage Festival (Gold Cup Saturday)

As you would expect for its most prestigious meeting of the year, Newbury was rammed with punters. It was a big day for the bookies too, but none bigger than for Bo Brown’s son Charlie.  He was celebrating his 18th birthday and standing on the stool for his father’s West End Racing firm for the first time. If Bo believes in luck then Charlie is going to be a permanent fixture for the foreseeable future because today the layers could hardly have written the results in better had they been given the option.

Now that's how a ring should look!

Now that’s how a ring should look!

The first race kicked off in style for the ring, well most of it, when they got Vicky De L’Oasis, the well-backed even money favourite beaten. It was a great result for those that took on the off-course rep that was having lumps on. Spare a thought for the firm that laid a monkey each-way the winner at 6/1 As I Am though, but not for too long, read on.

Black River was backed from 7/4 into 5/4 in the next, it was going well when it fell but the bookies still kept what they had taken on it, though gave most back over the winner Valdez who also attracted some good support including a £4000-£2000. It was pretty difficult getting any gossip today, mainly because the books were too busy stuffing their hods full of readies for idle chat. Add to that though wall to wall blokes holding pints in very flimsy looking plastic ‘glasses’. If that wasn’t bad enough making sure you didn’t spill some bruisers pint you also had to keep your eyes on the floor to make sure you didn’t kick their booze over either. We all know that the girls like to put their handbags in a circle and dance around them at discos. Well it seems the blokes have become fond of doing the same with their beverages, well stand, not dance of course, at least not at the races.  It’s lucky there aren’t hordes of  floormen careering about the ring this days or it could have been carnage in more ways than one.

There was a stick-on in the bet365 Fulke Walwyn Chase when Philip Hobbs’ Carrigmorna King was backed from 15/2 into 9/2 including a bet of £5000 – £700 (that’s fractions come racing). Those that got involved must have been gutted to have done their money with only 14/1 Tatenen spoiling the party. Only the punters’ party though, the bookies were in high spirits and keen to get stuck in again. bet365 sponsored the next hurdle too, and were no doubt slapping themselves on their collective backs that they did when 16/1 Vendor won the race. OK it was 6/1 the field but still an excellent result for the ring.

At Fishers Cross looked to be one of the bankers of the day and despite previous reversals there were no shortage of punters who wanted to be on at around even money and a shade of odds on. It was a good betting heat though despite only 5 runners (four after Battle Group planted itself at the start but was a loser if you backed it). Celestial Halo was backed from 5/1 into 7/2 and that money proved to be inspired as it won easily. The jolly did make a bad mistake but was already beaten by then, the punters that had £2000 and £1000 bets on were hopefully not trying to get out.

Anyone that was trying to bet themselves out of trouble had a tough task with Hennessy the penultimate. Our Father was the plunge from 10/1 into 11/2 but always looked to be labouring and unlikely to land the gamble. Several other horses attracted money which looked to be a great betting race for the bookies. A little bit disappointing then that for this hugely competitive 21-runner Class 1 handicap a lot of the layers showed a Scrooge-like mentality  betting 1/5 the odds a place. Yes I know they are allowed to on-course these days but it wouldn’t have been bad PR to have bet 1/4. The generous and the not so all got rewarded when Triolo D’alene won at 20/1 making it another cracking result for the ring.

As his team got to work on the last a grotesquely almost unbearably smug Geoff Banks came over to gloat at how much he was winning. If that wasn’t bad enough he went on to boast that the punters were betting in desperation to try and get some back. He seemed to be enjoying the afternoon a little too much for my liking

Those desperate punters looked to have latched onto Next Sensation backing the Scudamore trained and ridden gelding from 11/2 into 7/2, with Geoff Banks at the top price I found myself hoping. That thought was only held until the combination parted company at the 8th. 6/1 shot Filbert won the race, once again for Philip Hobbs. It wasn’t a right result but it was probably still a winner for most of the bookies just adding a bit of garnish to what had been a veritable feast for the ring and famine for the punters.

Sorry to bring her up again, but I have to keep the theme, the metaphorical fat lady had sung and it was backers licking their wounds and the layers their lips looking forward to counting the winnings after the three days.

(C) Simon Nott

*My new (and first) book ‘Skint Mob! – Tales From The Betting Ring’ is out now. It covers people and events in the betting ring from the 1980′s where hopefully some colour has been captured. It is a royal sized paperback. Full details can be found here.


Skint Mob! Tales From The Betting Ring. OUT NOW

Skint Mob! Tales From The Betting Ring. OUT NOW


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