Tales From The Betting Ring – Cheltenham ‘International Meeting’ 14/12/13


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‘Twas the season to be jolly at Cheltenham. Well it was if you were Peter O’Toole who was in the festive spirit before racing. Not only had he dug out a Santa hat, frugally,it did seem like it had seen previous years, but had sourced some mistletoe too. Judging by the smile on his face it did appear that he fancied his chances. I’m not sure if that was by having it spark off in the book or under the festive foliage, if it was the latter by the positioning he was obviously targeting the Seven Dwarves or flat jockeys maybe. Either way, nine out of ten for effort, you get a ten for a new hat Peter!

Free kisses with every bet over a monkey.

Free kisses with every bet over a monkey.

It may have just been our puckering up pal who was upbeat before the first but it was the entire ring after it. Ballyglasheen’s 33/1 triumph was roared home by the layers. I’d hasten to add most of them were upbeat. One poor girl was ashen-faced when she left her satellite joint to ask her stepfather on the master for some readies to pay out the winning punters. It seems that her request was met with a horrified shout exclaiming that the winning beast was a 33/1 result and that she shouldn’t be paying anyone. I promised her I wouldn’t mention her name, but tut tut Paul, it is Christmas after all and you always fall into the results from time to time.

Sam Winner was another fair result in the next sent off at 11/4 with two shorter in the four-horse race. ‘Another skinner’ shouted Jack Bevan’s man. He clocked my astonished look on overhearing him, so he quickly added, ‘On the forecast’, even that was pretty fortunate. The rails books had been finding things fairly quiet on the big bet front but the Tatts layers appeared to be happy with the volume of business and we winning accordingly.

I mentioned in my Taunton blog that bookie Martyn Of Leicester had been having all sorts of fun teasing people with his much coveted Portsea calenders. For anyone who didn’t read it, what the rascal has been doing is telling all and sundry that he has said calenders and then seems to then revel in deciding quite publicly if  they are a worthy recipient. Following from that I was told a heart-wrenching story from yesterday. One fellow bookie was bestowed a calender. He thanked Martyn in a way that would be expected for the privilege and placed it behind his joint before setting off for a cup of tea. When he returned, to his horror his calender was gone. He looked high and low before the silver-topped figure of Martyn loped  down to his joint  gesticulating wildly. He’d only found someone more worthy of said item so had taken the liberty of taking it back and transferred ownership. One can only imaging the shame and ignominy having been given in one hand and nicked from the other. It’s OK though Martyn will sort him one out the next time he sees him, he told me that too so must say it to all the boys.

Eastlake won the next race, one book on the rails laid a £5000-£1000. An excited punter and his wife approached me after seeing I’d been talking to a couple of the bookies. ‘I hope they didn’t tell you my bet’ said the moustachioed backer. I replied in the negative, then asked him what he’d had. ‘£3600- £600 the winner’ he confided with a beam spinning on his heel, his wife looked bemused and cast her eyes skyward before following him back into the grandstand.

Maybe mistletoe would draw them in? The calm before the storm!

Maybe mistletoe would draw them in? The calm before the storm!

Some layers had been moaning about the lack of lumpy business. That was rectified in the next. How does laying a £10,000 – £8000 about at 10/11 shot that wins with ease sound? Exactly, not nice, you have to feel for the bookies that stood for that. There were plenty of other lesser lumps about too, it seems someone thought the winner was as good thing as it turned out to be and backed it accordingly.

Colour Squadron was al the rage with one off-course firm in the Stewart Family Thank You Gold Cup. Their rep was having plenty of at around the 5/1 mark which would explain the SP of 9/2. The bookie who had his calender nicked does his form homework and is part of a very well-respected team. They had come up with Double Ross, it was backed from 9/1 into 7/1 it won and was roared accordingly.

Let’s hope he didn’t tell Martyn, until after the race.

The New One was the shortest-priced jolly of the day in the penultimate. It seemed some books decided to stick their necks out and gamble their day on getting it beaten. Won of them laid a wager of £6750 at 4/9. ‘Needless to say we need it to get beaten’ whispered the clerk. There did look like there might be a chance of that two out, but it was not to be, game over for those that stuck their chests out and hoped for the best. Only four lined up for the last, AP McCoy won the race on More Of That the 11/4 second favourite.

Peter O’Toole made a knife across the throat gesture. Oh dear, though looking on the bright side he could have been referring to lack of success with the mistletoe, couldn’t he?

(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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