Royal Ascot 2014 – Tuesday

Royal Ascot has hurtled back around in no time and it’s really like it was only a few weeks ago I was last here. Of course there have been several changes. There were bookies all over the place last year and they were again this, the difference being that it’s the big names that seem to be bagging the unorthodox new pitches. One well-known layer was missing altogether, Geoff Banks, missing from his joint but not the course. He was marching around the Royal Enclosure looking every inch the toff. I did dare question why he wasn’t betting there on the rail any more and his answer was a quite direct ‘Because I got offered an awful lot of money for my pitch’. Can’t argue with that.

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There was an awful lot of money about for Tornado in the opening Queen Anne Stakes, with four and five figure bets from 10/11 into 4/5. More worryingly for the bookies there was very little for the second favourite Verrazano which basically meant a lot of them were left with a one horse book with its main rival an each-way price. Tornado won the race by less than a length but never looked like being beaten by the friendless second-in runner-up.

Simon James was betting down on the other rail, his torrid time from Epsom continued. ‘I wasn’t taking forecasts, but when a Gentleman asked I thought I’d make an exception, that cost me plenty extra’. So seemingly a nasty start all round for the ring. ‘That’s why I sold my pitch’ shouted Geoff Banks when he collared me just after the race, at least one bookie in the ring was happy.

Word went around that a bookie was betting 1/4 odds each-way in the Ascot Cup

Word went around that a bookie was betting 1/4 odds each-way in the Ascot Cup

The Coventry Stakes saw some lively bets including some real lumps for the price on Angelic Lord who attracted early bets at 33/1, 25/1 and 20/1 all to four figures. He did come there looking  like he might make the frame for long enough to put the wind up those that laid him but dropped away in the final furlong. The winner was no good for the layers either though, The Wow Signal won the race landing some nice bets including a £10,000 – £1600, that’s 6/1 with the fractions, come racing.

The King’s Stand Stakes heralded something you don’t often see, a bookie telling the punters to get on a well-fancied one and then being delighted that it won. The legendary rails firm Richard Power, connections of Sole Power, told all and sundry not just once on the Morning Line in the morning but also live on Channel 4 racing prior to the race that he was fancied. Despite the tip from the right people Sole Power wasn’t the best backed horse on course but won with impressive ease at 5/1. The smiles from the joint were great to see.

As I spoke to a neighbouring bookmaker I was aware of a chap in morning dress next to me but thought no more of it. Shortly afterwards a familiar face came up to me and nodded towards the gent who was wandering off. ‘Did you see the way he looked at you?’, he spat with some contempt. I hadn’t so he enlightened me, ‘Put a bloke in a top hat and tails and they suddenly think they are royalty’. Of course there was a chance that he was, second cousin once removed, but I doubt it, the professional backer went on, ‘He looked at you like you were something nasty stuck to his shoe’ I’m glad I didn’t see that because I thought I looked quite smart in my brown pinstripe made to measure, albeit in China. ‘I could probably buy half of this lot’ was the final word from the soberly-suited but shrewder than most punter.

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If he was the intrepid backer that had £60,000 – £75,000 on Kingman before it ran away with the St James’s Palace Stakes he could possibly bag another Royal Enclosure on a credit card type. That was by far the biggest bet I heard of but there were plenty of others to go around and bring tears to the eyes of the ring. ‘They are doing their brains’ crowed Geoff Banks who appeared to be enjoying his former rail-mates’ suffering a little too much. The Ascot Stakes didn’t offer a lot of opportunity for the books to get much back. Perfect Heart was sent off the 5/1 jolly, had been backed at bigger each-way but finished out of the frame. 12/1 winner Domination looked to be a half-result for the ring but some firms laid it to chunks including a £60,000- £5000 each-way.

The Windsor Castle (getting out) Stakes would prove to be the final nail in the coffin for the layers.  Hootenanny was backed from 5/1, including £10,000 at that price, and won easily the 7/2 favourite. Just to rub salt into the bookies’ wounds the 100/1 runner-up would have been a virtual skinner for all and gone along way to getting some back. By the end of the day I was suffering a bit from hayfever but the betting ring had collectively caught a very nasty cold.

With all his crowing Geoff Banks appeared to have forgotten that he also runs a credit business. ‘Any jobs going?’ he enquired to nobody in particular. He then enlighten confused listeners that he’d just called his office and they just replied that he didn’t want to know and put the phone down. I feel he feared the worst. Shame.

The staff at Star Sports, betting in Tatts, looked a little despondent. ‘It’s been a nightmare’ admitted clerk Lofty, ‘One minute we have clients asking to back horses to win £20,000 and then the next a chap in top hat comes up holding a bottle of £70 champagne asking for a quid each-way, when we tell him the minimum bet is a fiver, he looks mortified and leaves.’ His exasperation was evident.

Heading out via the paddock, Dave Spice wasn’t happy either, yes he’d done it too. But it wasn’t just the jollies. He started off on a loser betting on the colour of the Queen’s hat as he often does. ‘A chap asked for £300 at 3/1’ bemoaned Spice, who had laid him as the punter neither looked like a footman nor royal milliner. ‘It looked silver to us, but then when we checked the official colour on the  website they said it was duck egg (bloody) blue. Now that is nasty, still it’s only Tuesday and the punters will surely open their shoulders with pockets full of readies tomorrow.

Duck egg blue? Ha ha, well if you didn’t laugh you’d cry.

(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.


2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by gwen beele on June 17, 2014 at 8:14 pm

    Enjoyed the write up , poor bookies though . I saw the last hour after bridge .Lovely outfits  



  2. Posted by Ben keith on June 17, 2014 at 9:30 pm

    Great blog, Simon. Good luck from all at Star Sports. B x


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