Tales From The Betting Ring – Wincanton 13/05/14

We were saying goodbye to another old friend in Wincanton today, their swansong meeting of the season. Thankfully only until October though. The course were determined to go out in style, and so they did with an excellent 7-race card and ‘Ladies Day’ to boot. The ladies turned out in their droves and were in some extra-keen cases waiting for the gates to open. Weather on arrival at the track was befitting of such a day too, oh hello there false sense of security.

No need to push ladies, you are all on, correct change please....

No need to push ladies, you are all on, correct change please….

Meanwhile down in the betting ring where hope always springs eternal the bookies were getting to work fielding as much money as they could. Each had their own tactics for taking their share. Pete Houghton in the back row was surrounded by the fairer sex when I popped down to his pitch. Whatever he was doing it was obviously working, maybe he’d dug the Brut 33 out from the back of the cupboard. I asked him what the spread on £2 each-way bets was, he didn’t grace the question with an answer but just one of ‘those’ looks and said he’d taken plenty of them already.

The name's Moss, Dave Moss......

The name’s Moss, Dave Moss……


Not to worry, little fish are sweeter Jack Lynn used to tell me. Back to tactics, Mike Smale had pulled out his secret weapon. Now bookies like Geoff Banks, Sam Harris, Martyn of Leicester and plenty of others have long since employed attractive females to lure the punters to their joints. Mike was cunningly doing the same to reel in the ladies, Mossy the silver fox had been employed, or should that be deployed to do just that. OK it has to be conceded that they’d be ‘of a certain age’ but lure  them in he seemed to be doing, and enjoying the limelight he was too.

"I don't need a coat, I'm from up north"

“I don’t need a coat, I’m from up north”

The aforementioned Martyn’s female staff were missing, but in their place he had Ian. A well-built chap that appeared on the stool alongside the boss, another silver fox, in just shirt sleeves. Now yes it was sunny and yes he may be considered buff but Wincanton can get nippy, and it’s only early May. The chaps manning the Ivor Perry joint next door and indeed Martyn himself were well wrapped up. ‘I don’t need a coat, I’m from up north’ boomed Ian with some confidence as he accommodated the lady punters.

'It's only a jacket' (and only one race gone too)

‘It’s only a jacket’ (and only one race gone too)

The first race went to the favourite, Norfolk Sky, backed from 5/2 into 7/4. Now I don’t know what is norm for the sky in Norfolk but it had got decidedly dark in Somerset. A bit chilly too, even if you are from ‘Up north’ as displayed by a certain Ian who didn’t need a jacket digging around for readies to pay the winners with. The second race went to a well-backed favourite too, not good for the bookies but the punters seemed to be enjoying it.

By the third race the weather had turned particularly nasty. The heavens opened and tipped it down sending those in fine millinery rushing for cover in the stands. The bookies had to stand there and bear it hoping that their brollies could do the job. One chap in the ring, who didn’t need a jacket seemingly had a change of heart, and this was before race three, as this photo will bear witness.

Oh leave it out, it's only a Mac.

Oh leave it out, it’s only a Mac.


The race itself went the bookies way, they finally got the short one beaten. The judge could hardly believe it, he called for a photo but you wouldn’t really have had to have gone a well-known high street optician to see that 14/1 shot Applause For Amy had won the race. The ring were over the moon to have had a result,  but their winnings affected by the fact that business was well down thanks to the deluge. They weren’t as happy as me though because the winner is trained by Mary Sanderson who used to run the sadly now closed down Four In Hand pub in Tiverton my home town near where she trains. Mary used to train Jabiru, Tiverton’s favourite racehorse, so it was nice to see her with  another winner under rules with one that could usurp that title. Well done Mary.

Luckily for the ladies who were in it to win it the sun had come out again by the time Luke Harvey was called to compare the ‘Best Dressed Lady Comp’. Sadly for poor old Luke once again he didn’t get to actually choose who won, we couldn’t see who did from the front of the stands either but she no doubt looked resplendent. Sadly for the layers, with the sun once again beating down normal service was resumed with another winning favourite in the shape of  Bostin at 7/4.

Only four runners competed in the next, but we were treated to an excellent race. It was a real ding-dong battle between the two market leaders with 6/4 shot Allthekingshorses getting up on the line to beat the 4/5 jolly in a photo. There was drama just after the finsih when the winning jockey James Best parted company with the winner. It looked bad for a bit when racecourse staff put the screens normally reserved for stricken horses up around him. There was a cheer also normally reserved for stricken horses when they get back to their feet from the crowd for him when he did  too. Of course everyone was very pleased to see that James was apparently not too badly hurt. As he made his way gingerly back to the Weighing Room he was spotted by Luke Harvey who commiserated over the microphone with a ‘He’ll do anything for attention!’ I’d image that it was lucky that James (who missed his remaining ride) wasn’t miked-up himself.

There was always going to be a lady rider winning on Ladies’ Day as the course hosted the  Wessex Area Lady Riders’ Series Final Hunters’ Chase. It’s doubtful there would have been a more popular winner, when 2/1 on favourite Gwanako won under Megan Nicholls given the Champion Trainer’s daughter her first winner under rules. Of course, the bookies did their money again but I’m sure even they were happy for her.

Down in the ring the ‘Getting Out Stakes’ referred really to the bookies not the majority of the punters. To make things harder it was a bumper,  but saw some spirited betting with several horses backed to finish Wincanton’s season off in style. The feature of the market was the weakness of forecast favourite, the Paul Nicholls’ trained Urubu D’irlande drifting from 5/4 out to 2/1. The market ultimately got it right, the jolly was beaten, but only a length  into second behind 10/1 shot Yanworth trained by Alan King. The nearest pursuer was 28 lengths back in third.

There was jubilation down on the front row, specifically at Martyn’s joint. At first I assumed that the firm must have gone up the front three and had a colossal result. On closer inspection, it was really because the Sun had come out enough for Ian to go back to shirt-sleeve order again. At least I think that must have been the reason because the more suitably clad boss didn’t look quite so celebratory.

'Aye Aye - told you'

‘Aye Aye – told you’


As with Exeter, it’s been an excellent season of sport at Wincanton, see you all back there in October, but before that we have the Derby, Royal Ascot, Glorious Goodwood………….

(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

If you’d like one you can buy a signed copy  direct  from me via paypal here 


It’s also available on Amazon on Kindle.



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