Tales From The Betting Ring – Epsom – Derby Day 07/06/14

By the time I ventured out into the betting ring we had a whole host of weather including a brief blast of thunder and lightning. Luckily all that had blown over when most of the ring were setting up, especially lucky for Peter O’Toole who was back with his reams of paper pricing up every race. Those reams would have been mush in no time had the downpour been a little later. Talking of the technophobic bookie, I was taken to task for the mention I gave him in the Oaks Day blog. A lovely lady that I assumed was his daughter wanted me to put things straight. He is definately the ring’s greenest bookie because contrary to what I alluded to previously, trees do not suffer for all his paper usage. Each and every piece  is diligently recycled after racing so no extra trees have to suffer, very pleased to hear it I was too.

photo 1

Not so chirpy was Geoff Banks, betting in Tatts and not on the rails which is more the norm for him. He remembered when he and his legendary bookmaking father John had to walk the last mile to get to the racecourse on Derby Day due to the traffic. ‘The crowd was nothing like it these days, nothing like it used to be’.  By his demeanour it also seemed he’d done a few quid on the Oaks and supporting card. That may have also led to the gripe about the £400 odd he had to pay for his betting badge, ‘They might as well just make it a grand and be done with it’ he spat, not exactly seriously I’m sure. He then wandered over to Barry Dennis who was doing a bit of sunbathing in a chair behind the joint. Barry didn’t appear over-enamoured with the idea of upping the badge fee, but when Geoff is on a mission he’s on one and went off looking for more ears to vent into.

The crowd on the hill looked a bit thinner than it used to be according to Geoff Banks.

The crowd on the hill looked a bit thinner than it used to be according to Geoff Banks.

Simon James also got a mention yesterday, for not being in the wrong clobber, he was still looking dapper but wasn’t exactly chipper either ‘Every big bet I took won yesterday’ he bemoaned. His sidekick Bob nodded in solemn agreement. At least they looked smart in their morning dress sans hat. Mind you, with the demeanour as it was on his pitch was should it have been ‘mourning’ dress.

Mourning was correct on a personal level when 9/1 shot What About Carlo won the opener. Regular readers will know that the winner was one of the brace of horses in the last leg that would have won our ‘Trend Horses’ syndicate a share of the Scoop 6 had it put in the performance it did today. Racing can be cruel at times. It wasn’t a bad start for the ring though.

Epsom they bet.

Epsom they bet.


Let’s hope they got plenty on the first because most gave plenty back when  Baitha Alga justified favouritism to win the next. That result was just buttering the ring up for the real battering it was about to take. Most layers were 10/11 or shorter about  Cirrus Des Aigles for most of the race. Some brave souls found the temptation of a short one on a big race day too much to resist though. All those who took the chance and instructed their clerk to go evens were soon accommodated to as much as they wanted to take. It did appear that several  had made the decision to go down the book with the jolly. Its two length victory  made each and every one of them suffer for their bravado when salvo after salvo of even money four-figure bets landed with the minimum of fuss.

And still they bet....

And still they bet….


The betting for the ‘Dash’ was competitive with Steps going off the 6/1 jolly, backed from 8/1 including a bet of £20,000 – £2400 with the fractions. For anyone who missed yesterday’s explanation on getting the ‘bits’ click here  http://wp.me/p1dLbd-4x Luckly for the bookies that took that bet the market leader could only manage 4th behind 9/1 shot Caspian Prince. Simon James laid £3300 – £100 each-way Addictive Dream, ‘Every time I lay one’ he confided with some exasperation realising it made the frame.

The Prosecco van was doing a roaring trade and looking more attractive an investment some books as the day progressed. Still, there was no time for maudlin or negative thoughts. ‘People actually drink Prosecco?’ was Geoff Banks’ incredulous comment.  The reason everyone was there, including the Queen by this point, direct from Normandy, was next up, The Derby. There were 16 runners with a hot favourite in Australia and it seemed the majority of layers were intent on taking him on.  As with Cirrus Des Aigles previously the sharks were circling to snap up the value, and there was plenty to be had. One by one the rails bookies stuck their necks out going over the generally available odds, each time they were soon on the retreat under an onslaught of cash. One particular well-known professional was very active on the rails having it on.

You really had to feel for those who decided to get the jolly in the book and hope it got chinned. It must have been quite a nasty feeling to see Australia take the lead at around the furlong pole and from then on never really looking like getting beaten. Beaten being the look on some of the rails bookmakers faces realising their fate and having no choice but to watch helplessly as it unfolded on Epsom’s final furlong. If doing their cobblers wasn’t bad enough, the one man who appeared to have profited quite handsomely started to jeer. It’s commonly known as the rub down. ‘Aye Aye’ he shouted, close enough to see the whites of his grim-faced financial combatant’s eyes. To give them their due, not one of them rose to the bait, so in he went again with another ‘Aye Aye’ that could be heard above the already  tumultuous din the winner had provoked.

Probably seeing the look of pity on my sun-burned chops the punter bounced over to me grinning from ear to ear and justified his cruelty with a ‘Well, you have to make them really suffer don’t you’.

I suppose a winner is perfectly entitled to enjoy the moment, but it did look as if the poor amassed ranks of beleaguered layers had already suffered enough.

But that’s just me.

(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 


It’s also available on Amazon and on Kindle.


3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by dave harrison on June 9, 2014 at 7:12 pm

    Excellent again Simon, I’ve just finished your book…………brilliant!!!!!


  2. Thanks very much Dave, for both comments, much appreciated.


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