Tales From The Betting Ring – Newbury 28/02/14

Before I had even got to the racecourse I’d been tipped the same horse twice. Whispering Harry was the business in the fifth  I was told. The trouble was two-fold, firstly I had no idea if the two characters that imparted the info knew what they were on about, which is quite important. Secondly they and whoever had told them the horse had already filled their boots. When it was added that they were on at 5/1 but I still could still get 9/4 a bet didn’t seem that tempting.

There were four races to go before that information was tested. You didn’t need to be a form student or have your ear to the ground to know that Ninepointsixthree had a good chance in the first. It was slightly weak in the market though while the second-in Stiff Upper Lip was backed from the 9/4 into 15/8. The backers of the latter got it right. ‘I laid an even grand the loser’ one layer volunteered with a smile, before adding ‘But the same man had a £3000-£1000 a winner with me at Wincanton’, back to frowning again.

I was told by the form guys that Big Hands Harry was a good thing in the next, he was, winning easily at 8/11. Not so easy to pick was 80/1 shot Flintham, in fact you’d have needed guidance from Mystic Meg I’d imagine. She must have whispered in at least one ear though as a punter had a £3000-£30 each-way. The gelding finished third which was very nasty for the bookie that laid it in a race where the place percentages didn’t favour the layers, especially as the favourite won too.

That's a heartbreaking site for anyone that loves the on-course market.

That’s a heartbreaking sight for anyone that loves the on-course market.

It got worse for the books in the next when Umberto D’olivate won the three-horse race at a well-backed 4/6. The ring did get the next favourite beaten. Ultimatum Du Roy was also well-backed at around the 5/2 mark before returning 9/4. However it could only manage third behind winner Farbreaga who had been backed from 8/1 into 4/1 so wasn’t a great result for the bookies either. You had to feel for the books that turned up, huddled against the weather they looked a forlorn bunch in a largely deserted ring and rail. It was a far cry from the Fridays I remember 20 odd years ago when my bookie boss Jack Lynn never used to miss despite his pitch being in a poor back row position, the back row of four rows I hasten to add. The ring used to buzz with vibrancy, it’s so sad the way things have gone since then.

The tip horse ran in the next, sent off 2/1 joint favourite and just scrambled home. It was Minella Reception the other market leader who attracted most of the on-course support but could only manage third. I say ‘support’ because there appeared to be scant little of that for anything in any race. I should have listened to my informants though, at least I’ll know next time.

If fancied horses winning wasn’t bad enough the business was very poor too; ‘It’s the worse I have ever known it’ one crest-fallen rails book told me as he packed up with races to go. He at least got going home right as the last two jollies won, both at odds-on.

It is very sad to see betting rings like today’s. It’s certainly not all courses at every meeting but what once was the beating heart of the racecourse, something that we really should cherish, is literally  withering on the vine at times and it breaks my heart to see.

Still, tomorrow will be heaving, come along and get involved.

(c) Simon Nott

I have written a book about bookies, betting rings and punters. It has been getting some great reviews. More info here  and fear not it’s recalling much happier times in the ring. Details here http://wp.me/p1dLbd-9n

Racing Ahead Magazine's review with postal purchasing details.

Racing Ahead Magazine’s review with postal purchasing details.


One response to this post.

  1. Ҝeep onn writing, grewat joƄ!


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