Tales From The Betting Ring – Kempton 01/04/14

Some of the bookies  did predict last night that they didn’t really expect today to be as ‘lively’ as yesterday where sparks flew. It did seem to be the case but the afternoon was no less enjoyable to witness. I was staying locally overnight and greeted with thick fog first thing but by the time racing got under way you could have been forgiven for thinking it was June not April. The sun was blazing down, if car thermometers are to be believed temperatures nudged into the 70’s during the afternoon.

A lofty view of the rails

A lofty view of the rails


If the first race had been run yesterday the winner would have been a topical one. Burnt Fingers. At 33/1 it would also have been the ‘result’ the ring had been hoping for but never got when the clever money was flying about. It was still a welcome start for the books in attendance though maybe not a skinner for all. One of the sharpest judges in the press box appeared to be on. ‘He was stood in here arm in the air’  one regular Kempton face informed me. This  fellow’s arm aloft obviously does not have the sort of detrimental affect on horses looking like they are about to win as my oft-mention mate Alex with the descriptive moniker. I spotted the fellow in question shortly afterwards and dared enquire as to if the rumour was correct he’d had it spark off. He responded in the positive but did add that ‘I was on but only small’ before allowing himself a smile adding that it didn’t need to be much at that price.

It's April the 1st not June you fools.

It’s April the 1st not June you fools.


It really was a pleasure to be at Kempton this afternoon. Even the bookies seemed to be enjoying it. The general atmosphere was warm, friendly and relaxed with seemingly enough punters to keep them all busy even if modest sums changing hands. The results went the way of the punters after the surprise in the first. The ‘news’ race was the  fourth which saw Economy go off the very hot 1/4 favourite.

There was rumour that one bookmaker had laid a fairly decent bet at around 4/9 but nobody was prepared to admit it. ‘I’m not surprised, I wouldn’t admit it either’ exclaimed one slightly incredulous layer, thus taking himself out of the frame, unless it was a double bluff of course, you know how tricky these bookies can be. Whoever it was nearly got away with it. Commentator Ian Bartlett appeared to be quite excited that the jolly looked in trouble in the shadow of the post. It was very close too, going to a photo, but the rouf-on shot just got the race, denying the upstart Neston Grace by a short head. The bookies had that one snatched from their lips.

It could have been much worse though, ironically had the runner-up actually won the race. Imagine the scene, the chagrin and gnashing of teeth from at least one joint. They’d done the wrong price the jolly but got it beaten. They’d happily paid the beaming punters who having backed the winner were straight up for their readies. Elastic band around the favourite money they’d have set their sights on a cup of tea as a mutual back slap before the next. Then ding-dong, an objection by the Clerk of the Scales to the winner. In racing terms that generally means terminal when it comes to horses keeping races, and so it was, Neston Grace was apparently sent out to race minus a weight cloth. For the sake of bookmakers’ sanity (and dare I say racing) it was probably lucky it was a short head too slow then.

Next stop Wincanton tomorrow.

(C) Simon Nott

I have written a book called ‘Skint Mob’ it is about bookies, punters and racecourse regulars and has been quite well-received. Here’s a review from the Racing Post on Sunday 23rd March.

Review from the Racing Post 23/03/14

Review from the Racing Post 23/03/14

It’s available here on Amazon – Kindle and Paperback http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/0992755409/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_s7Ymtb0Y2B


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