Tales From The Betting Ring – Wincanton 13/04/14

Wincanton  ‘Children’s Raceday’ was jammed packed, not just with races, eight of them not including two for ponies and one for mascots, but also with activities and people. There were a couple of bookies betting on the ponies which gave one of their floormen the chance to brush up on his no doubt rusty tic-tac skills. There was some sort of display going on in the parade ring which was being broadcast all over the racecourse. It’s fair to say they the people putting it on were having a lot of fun with whistles and squeaks booming out over a music bed on a loop that appeared to feature the vocal talents of Pinky And Perky. ‘They must have borrowed Luke Harvey’s i-pod’ one wag piped up, just audible over the noise. A bit far fetched to assume that Luke even owned one replied another, rather uncharitably I thought.

What price the panda?

What price the panda?


Luckily for the bookies, whatever was going on over in the paddock  finished, along with (Luke’s) music before betting really got going in the first. The ring was packed but with people just having their couple of quids on according to most of the ring. One punter did make some of them jump though. It wasn’t the size of the bets he was having, fifty quid each way, but the prices. 100/1 twice and 66/1 once on Linda Blackford’s charge Thats Yer Man. I did bump into a couple of chaps well in with the yard prior to racing but neither gave the impression that the beast was ‘expected’ so it was a mystery as to why the gelding was supported. Sadly for the backer the money stayed with the bookies but it did manage fourth so copped a bottle in prize money for connections at least.

Sometime gainfully employed bag and floorman Mossy did a passable impersonation of the lost to Lark Hill point to point ‘Armaloft’ Alex after the third when gambled-on Paradise Valley won. ‘I was on’ he shouted quite excitedly, ‘Yes I was’ the well-connected, soon to be well-refreshed, one’s reply when asked if he’d been tipped the winner up. He wasn’t the only one it seemed but once again not to any sizeable amounts in the ring.

Over the PA system Luke Harvey was doing a great job of his normal MC duties as well as juggling dishing out trophies to various assorted mascots. It also sounded as if he was doing a grand job trying to work out which horse the mascot that stamped his foot rather than talk had chosen as best turned out. Lucky our man has a great sense of humour.

'Money without work'

‘Money without work’


Ian up at the Jack Bevan (established 1897) joint was back on his very dull looking diet of rice and peas. ‘Oh yes he is now’ pointed out boss Paul, ‘He’s on it here when he sorts out his own lunch, you should see what he packed away when I was paying at Newbury’. Ian grinned a not exactly guilt-ridden grin tried to distract attention with a terrible joke about the size of the ears on the 5 horse in the next. Spock. Yes, I know. It got worse with him too when he announced that the winner of the fifth Jimmy The Jetplane had ‘flown in’.

The race before the penultimate featured a red-hot 1/5 favourite in  Aldopicgros. Someone did come out of the woodwork with a grand on at those odds. He did cop but must have been more than a little worried before it prevailed in a photo. That bet was an exception to the rule today though. ‘The serious punters have always dodged Sundays’ observed one bookie. He wasn’t complaining though because business had been brisk and when one is backed from 6/1 into 7/2 as  Ruapehu was before winning you don’t really want serious punters on at the top price.

The day had been a long (and noisy one) for the bookies with mixed results. Their patience was rewarded in the concluding bumper when 14/1 Thistlecrack got the better of the well-backed odds-on Neck Or Nothing. That would definitely been one for the ring, but I fear at least one layer may have had his book ruined by one of his own. ‘I really liked that one in the paddock’ beamed a local bookmaker’s daughter before adding that she was on at 16/1. I didn’t like to ask who’s day she’d spoiled , well, you don’t like to really do you.

(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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