Tales From The Betting Ring – Cheltenham 25/01/14


Well it’s not often you have to try and think of something at Cheltenham to better a blog about a Kempton Wednesday twilight meeting on the all-weather. But that’s the case, the ‘Barney Curley’ gamble and the buzz that followed resulted in more readers of this blog that ever before. So thanks for that. Festival Trials day attracted a record crowd no doubt boosted by the participation of Big Buck’s. While most people waited for the penultimate and the great horse’s return with patient anticipation it did look to some that the genius of George Nympton Nick Williams could have a great day.  He saddled  five runners all seemingly in with a fighting chance. That would be a great story to follow up from Kempton wouldn’t it? For the benefit of the blog, and of course a life-changing sum, a multiple to that effect was placed. Le Rocher played ball in the first and won with some ease and was backed from 5/2 into to 2/1 to do so. It was too early to work out what might be won, but the next great blog was on the horizon.

Cheltenham rails taking the strain.

Cheltenham rails taking the strain.

That is until the next race. Possibly the strongest fancy of the day by the form-book geniuses that are kind  enough to on occasion mark my card. Sadly The Italian Yob ran no sort of race and was pulled up. To be fair there were question marks about the suitability of the track but the figures did make him a small financial interest at least. That was the Super-Yankee down but still a chance of a decent Yankee of course.  Indian Castle won the race at 14/1 and was a great result for the bookies, on-course and off I’d imagine. That would be some of the £2-£15m ‘Barney’ trousered back in the bookmakers’ coffers for sure.

Wishfull Thinking won the next having been weak in the market drifting from 7/1 to 9/1. In hindsight the winner was a topical choice for someone putting on Super-Yankees, but of course hindsight is a wonderful thing, but you only use it ruing your lack of foresight so needless to say I wasn’t on. Nor were many in the ring either, they were all on the favourite, which was second. More back in the bags for the still battered from Wednesday bookies.  Then they got even more back when 6/1 shot The Giant Bolster beat Rocky Creek the 6/4f in the next.

With the blog topic of a Nick Williams Super Yankee already thwarted I had the idea that should Lizzy Kelly win the Neptune sponsored hurdle on Aubusson I could centre around that feat. Great idea, especially as the last time I mentioned her she rode a runner-up at the Tiverton Point To Point last weekend. Lizzy rode a great race but this time in third. The two market-leaders went clear but those bookies came out on top again with 9/4 Red Sherlock beating the jolly Rathvinden. That also meant that the best the Super Yankee could hope to be was a Trixie, hardly blog-worthy but could still merit a mention.

Between races we were treated to an almighty few minutes with thunder and lighting, huge gusts of wind that destroyed umbrellas and tore down signs but luckily it was over by the next, and it was the big one.

Come on you cowards it's only a shower.

Come on you cowards it’s only a shower.

The Cleeve Hurdle was the one we had all been waiting for. Reve De Sivola was the Nick Williams horse and leg in the multiple. My good mate Andrew Mount has a leg in the horse and has done very well with it in the past. Andrew is a great trends man, he was in attendance and excited. Andy had unearthed a gem of a trend, hopefully one that most people would have not spotted. Unless calculations were wrong, each and every one of Reve’s previous victorious races had been called home by the nicest man in the press room, Richard Hoiles. ‘He’s commentating today’ said Andrew enthusiastically. I saw Richard shortly after, I enquired as to if he was aware of this stat. He was, and to top it all he didn’t seem in the least bit daunted by the pressure of expectation this extra knowledge bore on him, proper job. I’m not sure how many other people Andrew told or even if it was a factor, but the facts are Reve was backed from 7/2 into 11/4. There were plenty of backers for Big Buck’s too, (they probably didn’t know that caller info).

Sadly the Trixi was busted and Reve out of the frame, as was Big Buck’s. It’s fair to say that not many would have picked the 66/1 winner Knockara Beau. The bookies were ecstatic. ‘OK OK’ I won on it’ breathlessly panted one positively beaming front-row layer. He was possibly ruing the fact that these days writing a tenner each-way in the book at 100/1 down to ‘pal’ is no longer possible when he added with a little bit of glee, ‘Well I did lose on the places’.

That had to be all the money ‘Barney’ and his mates won on Wednesday safely back with the bookies didn’t it? I asked another bookmaker who also has a shop if he was stung badly on Wednesday. ‘No’ was his reply, before adding  ‘We got the email warning us that there were suspicious patterns around the four so I threw a score at the accer, we never took a shilling on the ‘Barney’ horses in the shop and it paid 50/1 at the prices’.

So not only did they get all the money back, it seems only some got stung in the first place. Nick Williams’ Amore Alato was well-backed but finished third in the last. foiling even the consolation double. Normal service has been resumed, as will normal blog format, next week.

(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. If anyone is interested in getting one and doesn’t expect to be going to the races or doesn’t do eBay if you send me £11.99 (£9.99 + £2 postage) either by paypal to simonnott@yahoo.co.uk marked Skint Mob! or cheque made payable to Simon Nott, 16 Fairby Close, Tiverton, Devon, EX16 6AB I will send you one. Postage outside of the UK is Republic Of Ireland and Europe £4.95, rest of the world £8.00

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