Tales From The Betting Ring – Epsom – The Oaks 06/06/14 (D Day)

The weather was glorious at Epsom, I know I nearly always start with a comment on the weather, but it does make a lot of difference. That is difference in business and spirits. The latter were high in the ring, the bookies all keen to get stuck in on what is a great betting day. Up at the end of  Tatts my old mates Dave and Jane Hazell were already betting on the first with well over an hour to go. Not to be outdone Peter O’Toole had priced up and was taking bets on all of them. It has been suggested that he’s the most eco-friendly bookie on the track refusing to adopt a light-board. ‘Never’ he re-endorsed with a big grin, every race a pleasure. You can’t do that with a light-board it’s true, mind you all the trees that had to suffer to produce all that paper, maybe not so green after all. Except maybe in his computer as often as possible.

Peter adopted the 'no lights, prices on every race safety system'.

Peter adopted the ‘no lights, prices on every race safety system’.

For those not up with the dress code for the Derby meeting, Friday you can wear what you like, as long as it’s smart, even if you think a shiny suit is smart (the shiny suit shop appeared to have done very well). Derby Day you need to wear morning dress if you are going into the Queen’s stand. Sadly there are always a couple of gents who get it mixed up and turn up in all the Royal Ascot clobber on the Friday. There were a couple today too. Mind you, you don’t expect them to be bookies. In this case, Simon James and his sidekick Bob.

We know it's not Derby Day.....

We know it’s not Derby Day…..

Well, that’s what I thought though didn’t like to mention it. Not that is until they both decided to chastise me for having my top button undone. Well how dare they, it was hot, so had a bit of a dig about their attire on the wrong day. Now they both vehemently denied that their choice of clothing had been a rick. ‘It’s because it’s for Ladies’ Day’ pouted Bob, ‘Yes’ reinforced Simon showing me his cuff-links in the Queen’s colours. I didn’t like to point out that she wasn’t here today either, but gave them the benefit of the doubt.

In honour of a lady that wasn't there......

In honour of a lady that wasn’t there……

Betting on the first was spirited with several horses looking like starting favourite at one point or another during the exchanges. Just The Judge eventually went off at 10/3 but could only manage third behind Thistle Bird. The winner had been initial market leader but was quite weak in the ring touching 4/1 in places before one of the offices stepped in to snap that up eventually returning 7/2. Not a good start for the ring. Not all the money was for the short ones though, one bookie laid a £10,000 – £150 each-way Audacia, that’s 66/1 with the fractions. You don’t ask for fractions when you come racing? You need to read this http://wp.me/p1dLbd-4x the shrewd punter way well have got the value, but he still did his money as his selection could only manage 8th.

Epsom Rails they bet.

Epsom Rails they bet.

The second race was also quite competitive, one bookie showed the benefits of betting early when he laid a £10,000 – £700 (that’s 14/1 with the fractions again) Aussie Reigns early only for it to drift to 20/1 and finish out of the money. Farraaj won the race at 13/2 but had been 8/1 so not un-fancied but wouldn’t have been a terrible result for many in the ring. The Diomed stakes market revolved around the first three in the betting with decent money seen for each so the easy to back 13/2 winner French Navy would have been a great result for those that took on the front three. Business looked to be brisk on the rails and in Tatts but you’d have liked to have been half in with the Prosecco van, which virtually always had a queue.

Best lager you can get that Prosecco.

Best lager you can get that Prosecco.

Not everyone was winning betting on the horses or selling fizzy wine either. As betting got underway for the Investec Mile a lovely lady we were told was named Rosie was copping five grand for being judged best-dressed in her rouge finery. It wasn’t all glamour though. While she was basking in the glory a chap staggered into the gap between the aforementioned van and the box where they return the SPs. He proceeded to complain that the toilets were full and was going to relieve himself there already rummaging for his John Thomas. He got more that he bargained for when a petite looking lady bust from the box and told him in no uncertain terms that he couldn’t spend a penny there. He tried to argue but no avail, so wobbled off, no doubt to the detriment of another secluded spot. You’ll be relieved to know there are no pictures to accompany that segment of the story, excuse the pun.

The race itself was contested by 16 runners but all the money appeared to be for Abseil at around the 11/4 and 5/2 marks. Given that the race looked very tricky some of the bookies appeared to be happy to open their shoulders and take on the jolly. To their chagrin as it turned out with it winning by half a length despite hanging badly in the closing stages.

The Oaks saw some good money for plenty of horses, so a good betting heat. The three market-leaders all saw decent bets while the each way punts of the race were for Madame Chiang backed into 9/1 and Volume 16/1 into 9/1. It didn’t go the way of the bookmakers, the winner Taghrooda was the 5/1 third-in of the short ones but was still very well backed. To rub salt in the wounds for the layers Volume, popular each-way was third a nose behind 9/2 Tarfasha.

Only five line-up for the Surrey Stakes with That Is The Spirit best-backed at 11/10 including a bet of £5000, he got home a nose in front of second-in Parbold, with the rest of the field finishing in betting order, so absolute carnage for the bookmakers who were now really on the back foot. The ring had a 13-runner handicap as the lucky last to try and get out on. Some seemed to have lost all their fight conceding they were going to have a losing day. They did get the joint favourites beaten but only by the well-fancied 7/1 chance Almargo.

There was a slight whiff of burning as the despondent bookies packed up their gear. It was probably due to all the sunburned faces in evidence, it had been lovely and sunny, especially on the rail, but I’m sure there were also some badly singed fingers that added to the barbecue aroma.

They were still doing great business at the Prosecco Van,  maybe there were some thoughts of turning in bookmaking and investing in one of them for next year. They were soon dashed though, it’s the Derby tomorrow, bring it on. Just fingers crossed that storm gives Epsom a swerve.

(C) Simon Nott

My book ‘Skint Mob – Tales From The Betting Ring’ is a book about the wonderful characters I have met in my time on racecourses. There have been some nice reviews. 

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 


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