Tales From The Betting Ring – Wincanton 06/03/14

Bathwick Tyres sponsored the day and entry to the racecourse was free. The people turned out in their droves for a meeting that was timed like a mid-season flat card, first race 2.30 and the last at 5.40. However, talk in Tatts before the first wasn’t about the late start or free admission, though it was evident by their numbers that the bookies expected a good turn-out. No it was all about that that rascal Barney Curley. He was at it again, at least he was according to some people who apparently keep their ears close to the ground. It did cross my mind that they’d have to been permanently subterranean to have their shell-likes ‘that’ close to Barney’s info but who was I to argue. The story was that ‘Barney’s’ Giant Sequoia had been smashed to pieces in the morning market and was now 2/1 and certain to cost the industry millions. Of course after recent events that sounded all very exciting but we’d have to wait for the fifth race for that to unfold.

Busy for a Thursday, can anyone spot a Fedora?

Busy for a Thursday, can anyone spot a Fedora?


We’d have to wait even longer for another owner’s runner. My Uncle Bill has a leg in Webberys Dream, hardly as high profile an owner as Mr Curley but somewhat older and more forthcoming; ‘Don’t waste your money on him today boy’ was his grandfatherly advice, ‘we hope he runs well though’ he added.

The bookies got the first two favourites beaten in the first two races but David Pipes’ Red Seventy won the next, not outright favourite but 7/2 joint. There were plenty of happy punters who backed the horse, the Pipe’s seemed pretty happy about it too. Poor old Luke Harvey, MC for the day, was having a torrid old time trying to get a word or two from the trainer. Luke was so convinced that Dave Pipe was pretending to talk into his phone to avoid an interview with him that he said so over the PA. That seemed to do the trick,  Mr Pipe got off to phone and did engage with our man.  of course he wasn’t actually told anything worthwhile though but it was a victory of sorts for the very likeable Luke.

After every race a bucketful of losing betting tickets doubled up as draw tickets with the lucky winner getting a £50 voucher for Bathwick Tyres, handy if the air is showing through on your treads. There weren’t many losing tickets in the fourth because Benbens the odds-on favourite won the race, there would have been several a bit screwed up though as the jolly looked well-beaten at times.

The fifth race was upon us, though something seemed a bit amiss. The bottle the ‘Barney’ horse had become around 4/1 and 9/2 when the live betting kicked off. It seemed as if the suspected gamble had fizzled a bit then all of a sudden there appeared to be a plunge on the horse. Had Barney turned up? True the crowd was a big one but I reckon I’d still be able to spot my long-time punting hero in his trademark Fedora. I had a good old look but couldn’t see him anywhere. ‘Have you seen Barney?’ I asked one layer who had cut his price. ‘No, he’s not here’  was the reply, the price kept collapsing but none of the bookies had seen Barney.  Maybe he’d sent his money to the course but had kept a safe distance away to well, distance himself, from the touch that was about to unfold. Yes that had to be it.

Quite a surprise then that Giant Sequoia was pulled up fairly early in the race. The clever people were confounded as to how the genius of the betting world had got it so wrong, after all their ears are to the ground. They were even more confused when 33/1 shot Warsaw Pact won the race. Hang on a minute,  the winner did have some good form a long time ago, maybe, just maybe. No the notion that the winning owner’s neighbour’s borther’s auntie’s milkman’s mate once sat next to a man who’d met Barney Curley was dismissed.

Uncle Bill’s Webberys Dream won the six race’s best turned out award but sadly could only manage third in the actual event. Third place did cop nearly a monkey in prize money for Uncle Bill and his mates, they have enjoyed their day for sure. That’s where this blog would have ended except that between races ‘Armaloft’ Alex appeared from out of the gloom. ‘I’ve taken a bottle out of the Nicholls horse’ he confided before adding, ‘I’m told it’s useless’ then with a cheery ‘See you at Cheltenham’ he headed off to his car to beat the traffic.

Had he stayed a bit he’d have seen the early 9/2 collapse into 11/4, had he stayed a bit longer he’d have seen the ‘useless’ Earthmoves win the race, admittedly by a short-head, but win it did so probably kinder our hero left when he did too.

Ah, Armaloft the blog gift that keeps on giving!

(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.


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