Tales From The Betting Ring – Exeter 15/04/14


It was Finlake Holiday Park Family Day at Exeter, and it was packed, heaving in fact. There were enough small children running about to make Haldon feel a little like Lilliput at times but there were plenty of punters there too. That was hardly a surprise either as there were eight races for those punters to get their teeth into.

'And the winner of today's best turned out award is......me!'

‘And the winner of today’s best turned out award is……me!’

There were two pony races prior to racing and it was in the second race that Armaloft Alex said the bet of the day lay, ‘Have what you like on’ was his bullish advice, topped off with, ‘It wins’. Give him his due this time it was before the race too. As I asked him the name of the diminutive beast that would carry the burden of his monster wager Luke Harvey bounced over to the bookmakers, microphone in hand and proceeded to read the current odds to the entire racecourse. When he got down to the even money offered about number four Total Eclipse Armaloft whispered, ‘That one’. An eavesdropping ex-floorman who shall remain nameless couldn’t help himself, and passed on the info to one of his bookie mates. Seconds later someone called 11/10 the good thing. The bookie that had just been informed hopped off his joint and availed himself of the price which ensured a domino effect ensued. The next thing anyone knew was the best price about the good thing’s price, was a good thing’s price, 2/5. It won like a good thing too, very easily. Armaloft stood in the ring, arm aloft in triumph. I toddled down to congratulate him but when I got nearer realised that despite the bravado that smile was more of a grimace. ‘A measly macaroni’ was his gritted-teethed reply when I asked him how much he’d got on. Loose talk costs prices but an apt wager in hindsight!

Exeter, pat yourselves on the back, that's what you call a mid-week crowd.

Exeter, pat yourselves on the back, that’s what you call a mid-week crowd.

Armaloft may well have been right about the pony being the best bet of the day too because the results were all going the bookies’ way with the first five races going to 6/1, 12/1, 20/1, 12/1 and 8/1 shots.  The last two of those races saw gambles gone astray on Take The Crown and Mr Watson respectively ensuring the hods bulged by the Hunters’ Chase. Chosen Milan was around the even money mark and attracted a few respectable bets the bookies seemingly sticking their chests out with winning day bluster. It wasn’t the jolly they should have been keeping an eye on though. Alskamatic had been big prices off course in the morning and had opened around 25/1 on-course, each-way if you liked. People did like, by the off those odds had tumbled to 14/1 with plenty of money seen on course as well as off. The race developed into a thriller that saw the gamble landed despite the jolly looking like it only had to notch it up a gear to go past for much of the race. The connections seemed suitably thrilled, the bookies not so. The bare result suggests that the sixth race was another for the ring, but more than one firm came a cropper to the gamble. I know, it’s hard to read, poor bookies.

Armaloft and camera-shy cohort celebrate getting a pony on the pony.

Armaloft and camera-shy cohort celebrate getting a pony on the pony.

The last brace of races were the two divisions of the bumper. The first one featured a hot-pot jolly, Nick Williams,The Genius Of George Nympton’s Tea For Two ridden by daughter Lizzy and 30/100 if you wanted to back her mount to win. Win she did, but only just but still it was the first winning favourite of the day even if the punters and jockey had been made to sweat. One chap with his ears to many walls told me that certain elements of the weighing room’s suggested post race slightly risqué idea of communal living  immediately had cold water poured on it, the mind boggles.

The last race almost provided a dream finale for the ring but well-backed 13/8 More Buck’s ultimately thwarted  40/1 Spring Wolf by a neck. Mention has to go too to third-placed Kincora Fort whose connections had travelled from the North West to see the gelding run. They picked a good day to do so as this was Exeter at its best, a card of excellent races, huge midweek crowd and superb atmosphere. Come racing!

That is all.

(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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