Tales From The Betting Ring – Wincanton 02/04/14


Wincanton was bustling for the eight-race card that included the Royal Artillery Gold Cup rescued from Sandown’s abandoned meeting. It was also Lewis Brown’s 21st birthday. His dad Bo had given him the day off from the family firm,  West End Racing. I know bookies of old who would be spinning in their graves, days off?! But there you go, not just 21 but 21st century behaviour too. Happy Birthday Lewis. There was no birthday result for the bookies though, Koolala the 5/2 jolly got them off to a bad start by winning the opener.

Not everyone was in high spirits, I bumped into our old mate Ginger John. Now John is normally a happy go lucky sort of chap, always smiling and cheerful. Not today though. He confided that he had been inundated with abuse from disgruntled mates since Kevin Bishop’s Withy Mills sprang a 50/1 surprise at Exeter last time out. Now it is well-known that GJ is well-connected with the yard, he was looked for but unsighted in the ring before Exeter’s win. However, it seems his ‘mates’ are convinced that our hero was sure of victory for the mare and had it spark bang off, without letting his pals in on the plot. Some of them have been so incensed that they have resorted to sending him nasty messages on social networks. More worrying still, his usually omnipresent harem were on the missing list today. You have to hope he’d have told them to have their housekeeping on it. It probably didn’t help that John told the truth, yes he did have a few quid interest, and got bigger than 50/1, than the sensible thing and fib saying he didn’t have a shilling on.

photo 1

Sadly Withy Mills could only manage 5th today. GJ didn’t say if he’d appeased those that have been bombarding him with abuse by telling them to lump on today. I hope he did.

Bookies are looking for an edge just as much as the punters. The Jim Clarke organisation had a cunning one today. They hired an ex-squaddie to take the bets, he wasn’t in uniform but had obviously made contact with the tweed-clad soldiers in the crowd. ‘They are betting with him every race’ said Martin sat tapping away on the computer. It seems they weren’t a lot of good at punting either, at least judging by the satisfied smile on his face. There wasn’t a smile on Betting Ring Manager Vicki’s face though she reported that she was suffering from a tender posterior having mastered riding a bull at the weekend. I’m not sure if it was mechanical or real, either way she may have hung on until it gave up, but the bull exacted its revenge in the long term. Ouch.

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The Royal Artillery Gold Cup itself wasn’t such a hit with the bookies. ‘Useless business, they should ban it’ bemoaned Bo Brown somewhat uncharitably. It may have not sparked a punting surge but the packed stands did get to witness a wonderful finish. Benedictus had been well-supported (though evidently not with West End Racing) and looked very likely to win before being run out of it at the finish by Savant Bleu. Graham on the Ivor Perry joint roared the winner home so it probably made a difference to his book. The soldiers in tweed were conspicuous by their absence after the race too, Jim Clarke copped again?

Maybe it wasn’t just West End not over-enamoured  with the business. Paddy Campbell upped-sticks soon after, ‘We’re off to the Grand National tomorrow morning’ his wife Suzie explained. The GT Williams firm were going too, straight after Wincanton and looking forward to limbering up for the meeting on their arrival that evening. ‘No heavy drinking mind’ warned boss Andrew to his thirsty looking staff. I’ll try and find out how that goes.

‘I’m told the four horse will make a good jumper’ grinned Ian on the Bevan joint. Yes very droll Ian, the beast in question’s name being V Neck, he must have sat bolt upright when thinking up that one. Generous Ransom won the race at 11/2 having opened at 8/1. Paddy Campbell probably did it right though the word for the race was ‘loads of bets but all modest’. The next race went to 5/4 favourite Winter Wagtail which was a proper stinger for the ring.

Rails bookie Andy Smith had a bit of a rant prior to the seventh. He was a frustrated man, his opinion, voiced passionately, was that on-line odds-compilers made lots of mistakes. I did venture that would be good for a form book and figures man like him. Maybe not the right thing to say, I then got it both barrels on how he was unable to profit from their mistakes because he couldn’t get on. No amount of sympathetic noises were going to appease the obviously angry Andy. Luckily his daughter Jessica spotted my plight and helped me out of my predicament by giving me a slice of her home-made cake. Very nice it was too Jess, thanks on both counts.

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Jollyallan won the penultimate, a bumper, with the rest nowhere at an easy to back 9/4 but still favourite. Weirdly Andy Smith looked happy about it, his smile suggested that he may well have managed to get on that one. At least one bookie in the ring was chirpy.

For all those bound for the Grand National, I salute you, no tales for me from there, I look forward to viewing it through a pint glass in a local Devonshire pub. Normal Tales service resumed next week.

(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_s7Ymtb0Y2

 

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