Cheltenham Festival – Tuesday 11/03/14

Bright and and early into the course is the best way on the Festival Tuesday, it is worth it with horses being exercised and people going about setting up for the day. Despite being a sparsely  populated area shortly to be heaving the buzz is there already. Worryingly year after year it’s like you’ve never been away.

Hello Cheltenham, it's nice to be back.

Hello Cheltenham, it’s nice to be back.

The bookies were in early too all pitched up and ready to go as soon as they were able. It’s always good to get your punters in for the day. That is an increasingly hard task with the market quite uniform compared to the past. A savvy punter can snap up some value if they hunt around in those situations, how does 111% sound in the 18-runner first? Not all bookies are as keen of course, a visit to the Champagne Bar could be priority if you are Geoff Banks, at least that was an educated guess as the girls got to work on his joint in the Centaur, quite ably and much more photogenic manner of course.

Sadly for the layers even if they got the punters in they probably gave their money and some back with well-backed 7/2 joint-favourite Vautour winning the opener. It didn’t take long for the balance to swing back as, and yes this does sound like a phrase you never hear, David Pipe did the ring a favour. Western Warhorse was the 33/1 winner of the Arkle. At first glance it looked as if Tom Scudamore might have celebrated a tad too early with a photo called for the judge to have a squint at. Not at all those as it turned out, the winner was a head in front at the line. The jockey was jubilant but the only cheers were from the bookies with the public’s response just polite applause.

Come on boys, you're all on.

Come on boys, you’re all on.


The result might have cheered Paul Metcalfe, betting under family name Jack Bevan. Paul had a tale of woe to relate before racing. The forth generation family bookie from Torquay is usually renowned for a no expense spared treat for the staff at these big meetings. Not this year, they were doing the up and back from South Devon on a daily basis. It turned out that he had indeed found a place to stay for he and the staff (Ian), he liked it so much he’d paid a 50% deposit up front to secure their board and lodgings. Sadly this proved to be the first bad loser of the meeting, and not even ante-post. The establishment they had chosen had gone bankrupt in the meantime taking poor Paul’s readies with it. Our man had the needle and was refusing to pull up the overnight poke a second time. It’s a shade of odds-on he might relent after battling the roadworks past Gloucester tonight.

Some books bet to 115% in the Baylis & Hardings, that’s a 23-runner 1/4 odds a place the first four too. That sort of value would probably explain when a punter that appears to talk into his newspaper almost as often as he gets knocked back at run of the mill meetings was here. It seemed he was getting on too. It did look briefly as if the bookies might get a reward for their generosity when  Ma Filleule, another 33/1 shot, jumped the last in front. Sadly for the layers 10/1 shot Holywell did him on the run-in.

There were tales of huge bets being tendered on Hurricane Fly in the Champion Hurdle  morning market. I must have been imagining that I heard £50,000 being bandied about. Had I not the staff in that particular bookies would have probably still been counting the readies when the gamble could only manage fourth behind 9/1 shot Jezki. With three horses around the 3/1 mark the result should have been a great one for the ring.

I spotted a flamboyant ex-layer from the Midlands wandering around the rails. He often used to take great delight in giving the bookies the rub-down when a short one won. If he still enjoys that sort of devilment he didn’t have to wait long. Quevega, at 8/11 one of the meeting’s bankers, may have left it late but ultimately made short work of her opponents in the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle.

Waiting for payout or queuing to get on for the insurance after the last?

Waiting for payout or queuing to get on for the insurance after the last?


The last two races went to middle-pin priced horses. There was a little bit of a blast from the past after the last when a Stewards’ Enquiry was called. You could bet 1/20 Present View keeping the race and 10/1 Attaglance getting it. The latter was popular as a bit of insurance for those that backed the winner though. So much so that the best I could see on the boards was 6/1 when the ‘result stands’ announcement was made. That was no doubt a relief to the punter that had a £10,000-£1200 the winner, did he have some on the other one at 10/1? I have no idea but it’s nice to know he could have and got the fractions, come racing. I reckon the bookies just edged it on the day though. I’ll see how that assumption goes when I put it to the books before racing tomorrow.

Hopefully the car park has cleared by then.

(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

Racing Ahead Magazine's review with postal purchasing details.

Racing Ahead Magazine’s review with postal purchasing details.


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