Tales From The Betting Ring – Cheltenham Hunter Chase Evening 30/04/14

The Hunter Chase Evening at Cheltenham may seem like a low-key finale to the course’s season to the uninitiated but to the Point To Point fraternity it’s the pinnacle of the season. The horses come from all over the country to race and judging by some of the firms in evidence so did the bookies. Having said that there were several ‘B’ and ‘C’ teams in evidence for some firms while other regulars were on the missing list altogether.

The meeting was always a bit hot when I worked in the ring. Only real Point enthusiasts would have a grip on all the form and you were always at risk of being tucked up by a shrewdie. The general pattern would be a whole string of two quid and fiver bets with a bottle each-way  to make you jump. Especially iffy coming from someone who would drop the readies in the hod and say ‘Down to Bob’ or something similar and scamper off before you realised you just laid 16/1 an 8/1 chance.

Early skirmishes.

Early skirmishes.

It’s been a few years since I last took a bet in the ring (on behalf of a boss) from a punter, but it seems the game is no less perilous. One firm unfamiliar to me managed to run into a back line £700-£400 Popaway before it hosed in at 6/5. Come racing and get the value. The 66/1 runner-up would have been a cracking start but in reality it never looked like being anything but.

The jolly won the next too, this time Sharp Suit at 6/4, it had been bigger as well. ‘There are lots of bets but there are all small’ one layer informed me, he wasn’t the one that laid the rouf bets I heard about on the winner then. Of course  it’s all relative, and plenty of small bets would be quite appealing to most I’d imagine. Not as appealing as getting an odds-on shot beaten though, Harbour Court had attracted some even money monkey business before being sent of at 4/5 in the next but finished a tailed-off last behind 9/1 result Chosen Milan.

Best trading slogan award goes to Pinno.

Best trading slogan award goes to Pinno.

For much of the Bonhams Men’s Open Point To Point Championship Final Hunters’ Steeple Chase (phew) the bookies could have been excused for thinking they had got the front two beaten. Sadly for them it soon transpired that Mr P Mann and Mr P Gerety were languishing at the rear of the field by choice and not necessity simply waiting for the inevitable as the leaders cut each other’s throats.  Doctor Kingsley had been supported from 9/4 into 6/4 and won under the former from Current Exchange 9/4 into 2/1 under the latter. Not nice for the layers at all.

It got worse though. In the context of tonight there were untold bundles for Theatre Queen in the fifth, it was mostly at even money but the layers stood firm against it. This was possibly due to some chunky support for a couple of others in the race. One rails layer admitted taking more on the race than the others put together, which ever way you dress it up though, an even money fourth jolly of the evening winning but 33 length is not a good result for the betting ring.

The word went out 'Just back the favourites and wait for the winnings'

The word went out ‘Just back the favourites and wait for the winnings’

The books got a favourite beaten in the penultimate. If you were starting to feel sorry for them don’t let out a cheer just yet because this sentence doesn’t end happily for the layers. The 2/1 jolly Pearlysteps did get beaten into second but the winner, Universal Soldier, had been lumped on from 5/1 into 11/4. Ouch.

There was another stick-on in the finale when What A Laugh was punted from 12/1 into 11/2. This time last of the laughs went to the layers with a favourable result in 9/1 Ockey de Neulliac winning the race. You’d think that some firms got some back but maybe not all of it. If you are a punter that’s probably music to your ears, after all, those bookies can afford it, remember the festival?!

Thanks Cheltenham it’s been a tremendous season of sport, see you in the Autumn.

(C) Simon Nott

I’m totally over the moon that ‘Skint Mob’ has been nominated for the horse racing section of the British Sports Book Award. I’m in there with some illustrious company too. Here’s the link, just to prove I’ve not dreamt it! 



Skint Mob! Tales From The Betting Ring. OUT NOW

It’s available here on Amazon – Kindle and Paperback 


Or direct from me via paypal here



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