Tales From The Betting Ring – Sandown Park (bet365 Jump Finale) 26/04/14

There were mixed feelings among punters, pundits and bookmakers about the traditionally mixed ‘Whitbread’ Saturday meeting becoming an all jumping finale. Regardless of personal views it certainly didn’t seem to put the punters off, the Esher course was packed. Sandown and sponsors bet365 had obviously pulled out all the stops to  provide something for everyone. This included taking an idea from the London Olympics and providing ‘Race Makers’ to ensure novice racegoers were pointed in the right direction. The right direction as in which way is the winning post and where can I buy a burger. The arguably most important task of the day was that of picking winners. A thankless task too given the fiendishly hard look of most of the card. Luckily the racecourse had secured the services of several form gurus including the Westcountry’s own Luke Harvey.

You have to feel a bit sorry for Luke, as far as I could hear over the public address system our hero dodged the competitive races and pointed out the day’s good things. OK Sire De Grugy and Southfield Theatre wouldn’t have wasted much midnight oil on the formbooks but as far as bets of the day go, quite sensible. Quite a shame then that his co-presenter Gina Bryce then went on to describe our unadventurous mate as ‘A ball and chain’! Surely not insinuating that he could put the mockers on a certainty? If that wasn’t bad enough the rascal then went on to describe where he parks his car, should by the act of God the hot tips get turned over and disgruntled punters would like to air their views. You don’t get that down at Exeter do you Luke, I’d ask for a pay rise.

In stark contrast to yesterday the sun was out before the first, yes it was pleasantly warm, but this warm?

It was hot but this was ridiculous

It was hot but this was ridiculous

No not really.

The first heat was one of the hard ones. Anyone that thought ‘If in doubt back McCoy’ and followed it up with a bet, they copped when 14/1 shot Dispour won the race for the champ. It was also the first in the much-vaunted Scoop 6 and promptly ruined over 90% of the tickets chasing an estimated £4m up for grabs.

Anyone who had picked the first winner must have looked in vain at the big screen to see how their second selection fared. For some inexplicable reason all that was being shown on the Sandown big screen was races from Sandown and whatever else was going on at Sandown. Menorah won the next at 11/4. ‘No big money but lots of business in £40 and £50’ was one bookmaker’s summing up of the day so far.

Luke Harvey was roaming with his microphone before the bet365 Celebration Steeple Chase. The (largely female)  interviewees all seemed as pleased to see him as he appeared to be to see them. Sire De Grugy was sent off the 2/7f. One Tatts layer said they’d laid a £1000-£3500. ‘Better get his grand ready’ said one of the staff long before the finish. Sadly for the bookie but happily for the intrepid punter her pessimism wasn’t unfounded, the odds were landed fairly easily.

Who said the game's gone?

Who said the game’s gone?


The Gold Cup was another hard one to fathom. The ‘if in doubt’ adage mentioned above looked to be about to bear fruit again when 8/1 Burton Point took up the running three out.  Those that did start to count their cash, and there did appear to be a few, a little too early had their cheers stifled when Hadrian’s Approach under Barry Geraghty took it up over the last. ‘I laid a chap twelve monkeys each-way the winner’ bemoaned a prominent Midlands layer, before adding ‘I expect he’ll be back though’.

It didn’t look as if Leglock had chance to move his car before the second of his good things ran. It didn’t matter though, Southfield Theatre did the business just as our man said it would, ‘Aye Aye the double’. Hopefully the punters who followed his cruelly ridiculed advice were waiting with tenners to shove in his top pocket after racing. Oh ye co-presenters of little faith….

'Yes it's been busy but it could be busier' (Bookie speak for we couldn't push it in the hod quick enough)

‘Yes it’s been busy but it could be busier’ (Bookie speak for we couldn’t push it in the hod quick enough)


By the sixth race some of the crowd had become somewhat refreshed. Quite why after a few beers a person’s brain suddenly thinks it’s a great idea to leave a plastic pint glass in a urinal is beyond me. What I can say without any contradiction is that when a chap has been waiting, legs crossed for his turn, and he doesn’t notice it, the consequences are catastrophic, not only for him but his either side neighbours. Nasty. The penultimate itself went to Ballincurrig which returned 11/2 after at least one decent bet was stuck at 6/1. The runner-up had doubled in price from 8/1 to 16/1 and looked to be coming to do the bookies a massive favour but was worried out of it by the winner who looked at one point to be having a word in its rivals shell-like.

It poured down for the last race of the day, and the season. L’Unique won the race with some ease. At least one bookie laid a monkey each way at 8/1. Not the nicest way to end the season for a bookie. When I say end the season, I mean sort of, the next ‘Tales’ will come from Cheltenham on Wednesday night, it’s not just football that’s a funny old game.

(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 


Or direct from me via paypal here



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: