Tales From The Betting Ring – Cheltenham Festival Wednesday 12/03/14

I got to the course nice and early as per yesterday using the time before racing to have a wander about and get some feedback. The first thing I heard was a moan about bookie Simon James who was plying his trade down at Lower-Tatts. Now Simon is a very nice fellow and nobody has a bad word to say about him. Except that is that it looks as if he’d ruined a tipping comp run by fellow bookie Dave Spicer by tipping up 33/1 and 8/1 winners on the first day. That is effectively ruining it if you are a glass half-empty sort of person, or made interesting if it’s usually half full. I asked if I could borrow his crystal ball if I promised to polish it and if he went for them in the book. The answer to the first question was just a silent glazed look and luckily a yes to the second.

Tony Styles who bets on the lower rail as Bob Stock had a different story to tell. He told how he had been wired up on Tuesday as an experiment to see if his heart beat faster at the meeting than a punter or jockey. He was telling me how GBR (Great British Racing) had set the task up. As he was explaining that he thought his heart only started to go some when he was pulling his gear back to his car Nick Attenborough, Director of Consumer PR, arrived at the most opportune moment. We were introduced so I immediately asked if Tony was correct. Sadly the information wasn’t available at that point but was promised to be furnished with the figures when they were ready. Watch this space. My money is on Mr Styles finishing tailed off in the heartbeat stakes, far too experienced and cool for any of that excitement business. Others in the ring however would be a shoe-in to out-beat any jockey in the most driving finish.

Tony Styles and his heartbeat monitor.

Tony Styles and his heartbeat monitor.

Up in Tatts one of my regular ports of call are my bookie mates who specialise in speed figures. They gave themselves a chance of getting some of the hotpots of the day beaten. They were keen to get the first jolly Faugheen into the book. They are good judges and put their money where their mouths are. You can’t be right all of the time, and sometimes you can even be horribly wrong. I doubt their bet was the £30,000 – £20,000 laid but you can be sure the day started badly. O’faolains Boy was the 12/1 winner of the RSA so the ring probably got some back, but in the 13/2 the field race you can easily run into those. 

It's OK you can all be on!

It’s OK you can all be on!

The Coral Cup was a great betting heat with the offices getting involved on David Pipe’s Dell’Arca helping the price from 11/1 into 8/1 favourite. They left it behind when Whisper just got home in front from Get Me Out Of Here, the winner had been quietly backed from 20/1 into 14/1 so by no means a great result for all either.

Just before the Queen Mother Champion Chase I bumped into a regular punter who has often featured in this blog but always remained nameless. He was, as always,  accompanied by his glamorous wife and appeared to be fairly well refreshed. ‘Have a drink Simon’ he offered rummaging around for various hip flasks. His wife reeled off the choice, which was basically the top shelf. Before one could be produced I had to inform his as a racing professional I had to stay booze free but did accept a mint before he charged into the ring. He looked determined too, wielding a wad of notes toward Gregory Hughes on the rails like a lancer leading a charge. I’m not sure what he backed but if it was Sire De Grugy he joined plenty of others who cost the ring untold bundles having been supported into 11/4f to a nice few quid, and won in some style too.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Cross Country Chases always appear to be races where the horses go around and around and around until the favourite wins. Maybe not this time but nearly. Big Shu was backed to plenty of money from 5/1 into 3/1f while Balthazar King from 5/1 into 4/1 almost with exception to anything else. The ring seriously needed both of them beaten to get back into the game. 10/1 shot Any Currency had the rails screaming his name to save them as he came with a mercy run up the hill. A photo revealed that despite a gallant effort was a short head behind Balthazar the second favourite, at the line. OK so I might have to adjust my saying slightly.

The ring had already started to look a bit thinner by the Fred Winter. The young lady on Ken Howells’ joint was still looking cheerful but it was thumbs down from Rocky on the Kelross joint on the rail, Brian Edwards at the back of Tatts and, well, the look Robin on Cliff Emery’s pitch told me not to risk life and limb even asking. It seemed that some layers were now really scratching around for ways of getting their money back. Tanya Stevenson told me that a couple of well-known firms were going to open a market on the colour of her coat tomorrow. Today’s was a vibrant Daffodil yellow, maybe that prompted it, my offer of a no questions asked Tanya’s Coat Colour coup in the morning was greeted with the contempt it probably deserved. Mind you I wouldn’t rule out the ‘Coat Bet’ equivalent of gallop watchers lurking in the bushes before the Morning Line tomorrow.

Looking a bit thinner by the penultimate.

Looking a bit thinner by the penultimate.

Luckily for the books the tide turned in their favour when 33/1 High Hawk won the penultimate. There had been an almighty plunge on Dawalan  from 7/1 into 7/2 but that was one well off the mark trailing in on 13th. Punters were suddenly the ones trying to get some back and really got their heads down into the Champion Bumper. The punter with the amazing collection of hip flasks was in the thick of it once again. ‘He’s backed three winners’ beamed his glamorous wife. 16/1 shot Silver Concorde won the race beating the jolly  Shaneshill into second. Another winning race for the layers but they probably would have wished for their ‘results’ in other races.

Day two is on the judge, I bet Tony didn’t get overexcited though his hod was possibly a bit lighter.

(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

Devon Life review

Devon Life review


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