Tales From The Betting Ring – Taunton 12/12/13


There was a really festive feel at Taunton with stalls selling produce ideal for Christmas gifts. Additionally, present-buying racegoers were put firmly in seasonal mood when serenaded by a fairly voluminous, aurally and numerically, Children’s choir throughout the afternoon. The Santa in the ring was Martyn of Leicester who it transpired has some highly sought-after Portsea 2014 calendars.  He was teasing all and sundry procrastinating on who was a worthy recipient and seemingly thoroughly enjoying it and all the attention. Despite the tinge of tinsel and the whiff of freebies, for the hardcore racing fans, of whom there were plenty, backing a winner was the priority.

Taunton they bet.

Taunton they bet.

Of course, this day and age that isn’t necessarily true as the only way of copping a few quid. Armaloft Alex was hovering around the parade ring casting his very knowledgeable eye over the horse flesh displayed there. Once his perusal was over he ambled into to the ring and declared that he had laid one for a place. I asked him why he had taken such bullish action. He happily informed me quite matter of factly that the beast he’d considered bereft of any possible chance  was, and I quote, ‘Clinically obese’.

With that in mind and assuming his eye wasn’t as out as his premature arm often is. It’s possible readers could consider that third-placed 12/1 shot Barista may well come on for the run.

Bookie Joe Oliver has a leg in The Rattler OBrien who was running in the second. They had it spark off the last time it ran and won at Wincanton. Today it was sent off favourite but it seems that nerves were getting the better of its proud part-owner. Poor old Joe was marching up and down the ring with a frown as furrowed as any farmer present today would have been proud of in top field. The poor layer looked more stressed than is good for any man of his age should be. That premise is to illustrate just how cruel the race panned out to be. Joe’s horse had a right old battle on its hands but gallantly outfought all-comers to secure a victory close home. Well it would have done had Fountains Mary not suddenly found metaphorical wings in the last hundred yards to chin the gallant jolly in the shadow of the post.

You had to feel for Joe. Well all but one member of bookie’s staff anyway. He was going to take it upon himself to enquire as to if the distraught and broken looking bookie had taken out some insurance and laid it at 1.10 in running. He would have done too had his boss (and son) not put his foot down saying it wasn’t exactly cricket to kick a man when he’s down. He obeyed but did look a little cheesed off to have missed out on that bit of devilment.

photo 2

I didn’t see Armaloft again until the fifth, he’d got it all back and some with his paddock picks so had taken to chasing trainers. He had followed one from one end of the racecourse to the other to see if he bet the one he’d had a whisper for. He’d didn’t, but the exercise probably did him good.  One bookmaker did report an ‘interesting’ £100 each-way at 25/1 on Out Of Nothing, there were  a few who on hearing that followed the intrepid punter in.  There was also a chap trying to have a grand on Ramona Chase at the 3/1 mark. It did appear that the punter wasn’t familiar with the strength and weaknesses of the Taunton ring and apparently got knocked back a couple of times before being accommodated. ‘I’d have laid it’ bemoaned a disgruntled bookie who obviously hadn’t been asked, before adding, ‘Six duck eggs and going off this short I’m getting it in the book’.

He got that right, the 5/2f finished last. Those that followed in the big-priced punt had some fun for their money with 18/1 shot Out Of Nothing still in with a great chance two out before fading behind Seaside Shuffle who won the race at 6/1.

Joe Oliver just happened to wander past a certain bookmaker’s joint after the race. He still looked gutted and crestfallen but the stress appeared to  have gone. I guess that is what was the green light for one callous caller-outer who’d been biding his time. ‘Oi Joe, I hope you took some insurance in running when it looked certain to win’. The look on Joe’s face said it all, of course he hadn’t, but the caller knew that all along really too didn’t he.

No such cruelty this weekend at Cheltenham I trust, Martyn has promised me a calender.

(c) Simon Nott

Skint Mob! is a 200 page king-sized paperback book with full colour photographs. It brings to life the betting rings of UK racecourses from Aintree to Ascot and Newton Abbot to Newbury via point to points and the odd nip into a betting shop. The author uses his own experiences working for bookmakers since the late 1980′s as a vehicle to bring to life the colour and characters of that most vibrant and exciting of habitats. Add a liberal sprinkling of humour and you have a must-read for all fans of UK racing and its unique atmosphere. Cost £9.99 plus postage. 

Now Available on eBay http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Skint-Mob-Tales-From-The-Betting-Ring-/281209989571?pt=Non_Fiction&hash=item41796be9c3

Skint Mob! Tales From The Betting Ring. OUT NOW

Skint Mob! Tales From The Betting Ring. OUT NOW

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