Tales From The Betting Ring – Exeter 06/05/14

The ring was abuzz before Exeter’s finale, though not so much in anticipation of the racing ahead but what had gone on over the bank holiday weekend. There were two stories the topic of choice. The first was about an ex- bookmaker having it spark bang off with a horse he has a share in the previous day at Bath. He admitted that he’d had a nice bet on the beast in cash on course as well as a small top-up with one of his accounts. Not content with the 12/1 winner, he’d had a whisper for another horse and had a little double with his too. To his delight they both won. At this point I’d like to point out that the gentleman does have my number, sadly he didn’t use it.

Anyway, he had copped a nice few quid but was still seemingly a little miffed and slightly perplexed and went on to explain why. ‘Well my lad, I rang them again this morning and asked for £150 on one, the chap on the end of the phone put me on hold, then came back and said I could only have £100 on’. Yes he was baffled and somewhat amused. You can sympathise with him too, in his day this particular bookie would never have turned down a £150 bet if he had the price on his board. I asked if the horse today won. ‘Oh yes my lad’ was the response ‘At 7/1’. Nobody in earshot had the heart to tell him that he’d probably had the last bet with that firm, times have certainly changed.

The other story related to a point to point meeting at Flete Park. It seems that there had been a plot afoot. The connections had kept this particular gamble plan Fort Knox secure. One man was to get the money on, this man, so I’m told, is still an active bookmaker. Obviously the best man for the job of getting a lump on at a meeting where the mere sniff of sharky money is enough to ensure hods snap shut quicker than mouse traps. Betting well under way he was spotted in the ring, the stake money in his hand, surveying his prey biding his time waiting to strike. Sadly for him it seems that this Fort Knox hadn’t been quite as secure as its namesake. My informant described how our hapless hero stood transfixed as punters who weren’t supposed to know helped themselves to his 20/1, 16/1, 14/1 and all rates down to around the 4/1 mark. The horse did the business, those who’d got on celebrated with some vigour, picture the scene if you will, around the transfixed, unable to believe what had just happened bookie, gamble cash still firmly clenched in a white-knuckled hand, un-punted.

Back at Exeter, the stories weren’t quite so colourful though Tony McCoy rode the first winner, Master Malt, supported from 7/1 into 11/2. He beat the odds-on jolly Maxi Chop though so the bookies weren’t complaining too much though. They did moan a bit though when the 7/2 jolly Makadamia won the next.

Ladies made the effort for Ladies Day.

Ladies made the effort for Ladies Day.

There was one rarely seen (these days) face spotted in the ring before the third. Now this fellow used to be a regular sight in the betting rings of the south, he was hard to miss marching into the ring and bellowing bets to bookmakers ‘Down to me, with a ring’. The trouble is the bookies didn’t always get their money after the race if it got beat. In fact some of them still haven’t been paid. Now my old boss Jack used to say that if you have won consistently from a man, and the poor soul has got to the point where he can’t pay he should be left be. The trouble is, this chap has seemingly just chosen not to pay. With that in mind it must have been galling for those that he owes to see him flashing a near house brick sized wad of nifties. To be fair he did spare them that, he lurks in areas where those he owes can’t see him.

He was there and then gone in a very short space of time, that seemed a bit weird for a man with dermatological attributes of a rhinoceros. All was clear when a pal of mine filled me in on what happened next. It seems that our man sidled up to my pal and tried to engage him in conversation. My mate was doing his best to keep dialogue to a minimum prior to making his excuses and leaving, not comfortable in his company. Just as he was working out quite how to do so he was saved by the appearance of the cavalry  over the horizon. A cavalry in the shape of a bookie owed for so long he has since hung up his hod treating himself to a day out at the races. ‘He clocked him and took off  like Usain Bolt’ chuckled my mate as he relived the moment  with some relief and satisfaction.

Back in the ring things were going well for punters that pay. AP just got his double up when 6/4f  Karinga Dancer obliged in the third. The books weren’t reporting big bets though, just loads of small ones that all add up. As often happens, just when the ring know what the business is like someone pops up with a lump. AP’s mount Flemenson had been backed from 11/2 but one punter waded in at the bottom end of the market with £2500 at 4/1. The bookie who took the bet kept his cool then hopped off the stool apparently having it back in the ring. After all a punter who bets in cash expects cash back, so the machine is no good for hedging and betting with other bookies gets money flowing around the ring. Now there’s novel idea…….

There were three in a line over the last, you’d have to hope that the big cash punter had some good binoculars because his bet wasn’t amongst them, nearer last sadly for him. 5/1 shot Dragon’s Den won the race from a 20/1 result for the ring who were now beginning to suffer somewhat. To lighten the mood the ‘Best Dressed Ladies’ were judged in the parade ring prior to the penultimate. Luke Harvey wasn’t a judge but was given the job of announcing the winners, a job he seemed to relish somewhat more than his recent interactions with various mascots at other meetings. The winning lady in black and white looked splendid.

The Hunter Chase was no good at all for the ring either, the first three in the betting were the first three home. The lucky last race of Exeter’s season was a bumper. It was a well-contested one too with many of the top yards represented. Horace Hazel won the race at 12/1, the nearest thing the bookies got to a ‘result’ and probably lessened the blow for most of the ring.

That was that then, sport at Exeter over for another season. It’s been cracking, of course there’s loads of flat action to look forward to before October 9th when we are back, but it’s hard to beat racing at Haldon Hill. See you there.

(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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