Tales From The Betting Ring – Glorious Goodwood 2014 Thursday.

Thursday kicked off with the Magnolia Cup, a charity race over about 5f for Ladies. Quite a few of the bookmakers bet on it, possibly spurred on by the fact that the exchanges were forming a market on it too. Buyers, or rather backers, and for that matter bookies beware. It didn’t take long for a move to get the books jittery, Tina Cook’s mount ‘Better Ball’ , not the horse’s real name, was the subject of a punt from 10/1 into 3/1 when it transpired that the real name in the race-card was not the ‘real’ real name. There was also good money for Megan Nicholls’ mount Star Lot, possibly because it was her mount. The race eventually went to See The Storm ridden by super-model Edie Campbell who won the race last year. Martyn of Leicester laid a £600-£200 the winner, ‘To another bookie’ whispered his right-hand-man. Not a great start to the day.

Goodwood they bet.

Goodwood they bet.

Funniest moment prior to racing proper and as the trophy was being awarded was the stampede of racecourse photographers.  Almost to a man they spat out their free lunches and ran to the Winners’ Enclosure when it was announced that Hollywood superstar Tom Cruise was presenting said Magnolia Cup. ‘I could have told them he was here’ mused John the non-runners runner. Luckily he was out of earshot of the coronary-risking puffing posse.

Star Sports had a ‘Hughesie Special’ offer advertised on their joint. When bookies start making special offers you have to wonder why. That Ben Keith is known as a very nice fellow but benevolent with it? I think not.

Beware Bookies bearing 'gifts'!

Beware Bookies bearing ‘gifts’!

Betting was brisk but smallish in the first, once again quite understandable with a 4/1 the field race. There had been bits of money for Examiner (12/1 into 10/1) and Rainbow Rock (8/1 into 6/1) but the race went to 14/1 poke Lyn Valley which would do most of the books nicely.

The Richmond Stakes made up the first leg of the Star Sports offer, those who got involved didn’t really have to break into a sweat. Ivawood was backed from 4/9 into 2/5 including a £4000-£9000 and made those odds look great value. Punters who wanted to be on each-way had to hunt around a bit with a few firms choosing to bet win only but there were still plenty of place options available.

Glamour on and off the joint at Goodwood.

Glamour on and off the joint at Goodwood.

Despite a bet of £15,000 – £8000 Estimate was sent off a rather shaky 2/1 favourite in the Goodwood Cup in reaction to opposition in support for  Brown Panther backed from 10/3 into 11/4 and Forgotten Voice 10/1 into 7/1.  Backers of Estimate soon knew their fate as The Queen’s mare was one of the first to drop away. The race went to the eight-year-old 5/1 shot Cavalryman by a fast diminishing neck from 12/1 Ahzeemah.

Looks like Sam Harris got the winner in the book.

Looks like Sam Harris got the winner in the book.

At The Races pundit and all-round nice fella Luke Harvey was sat next to me just after the race. He was sweating over the form book looking for the winner of the Stewards’ Cup, (sponsored by 32 Red). We were talking about the difficulty of finding something to write about for each meeting. Admittedly most of his stuff would be X-rated and not suitable for his Newbury local press column. Just then you could almost see a light bulb light up above his head, he’d had an idea. Not for his column, but these tales. ‘Did you know that in Cavalryman’s years both he and Fallon are about the same age’ he offered. He then went on, ‘There aren’t many other sports where a 40 0dd year old can beat the young ones’ . I nodded politely, maybe he got a whiff (wrongly) that I wasn’t all that interested in this thought-provoking revelation. ‘Oh write your own flippin’ column’ he spluttered before heading off allegedly to meet someone called Grolsch!

The Lillie Langtry Stakes was won by  3/1f Missunited, there had been support for Stella Bellissima 5/1 into 4/1 but was unplaced. You might think that the books would have been grumbling but seemed surprisingly chirpy. Mind you Dave Hazell is always chirpy, ‘Still smiling after a favourite bolts in’ he beamed.

Pinky and Perky! Jane and Dave Hazell still smiling.

Pink and Perky! Jane and Dave Hazell still smiling.

James Lovell down on the grass was smiling from ear to ear too. Even more surprising then to hear him say it was hard to do business, my suspense lasted only as long as it took him to add ‘There are too many gorgeous women to look at’.

The John Lovell firm also take bets from men.....if they have to.

The John Lovell firm also take bets from men…..if they have to.

Steve Ross was so busy smiling he didn’t spot me getting a picture of him, this time resplendent in titfer. I was right surmising yesterday,it’s not just old, it’s ancient.

If new hats are unlucky, Steve Ross's must be the luckiest hat in the world.

If new hats are unlucky, Steve Ross’s must be the luckiest hat in the world.

The Maiden Fillies’ Stakes was the second in Star Sports double offer. Shagah was punted from 2/1 into 15/8f and would have wiped the smile off many bookies’ faces with her effortless win. The Star Sports daily double was landed. ‘We didn’t so a lot on it’ was Lofty at the helm’s verdict. The bet may have been landed but the firm got it right with the SP double paying a tiny shade over the offered 3/1 with the treble punters doing their dough when Estimate was beaten. You don’t see may flies on bookies, even when they lose.

The draw bias over 7f at Goodwood is renowned for favouring low numbers. When the race really began to unfold it looked as if the books were going to take a hammering when market-leaders Almargo (attracted a couple of £9000- £2000 bets) and Ifwecan, drawn 5 and 1 kicked on to try and put the race to bed. Just as the punters were beginning to count their winnings Safety Check and Day Of Conquest came out of the pack to collar the leaders. Safety Check got there first rewarding his 14/1 backers but of course mostly benefiting the bookies who largely hollering them both home, it didn’t really matter which.

Definitely in the pink after  Safety Check got the money in The Tatler Stakes.

Definitely in the pink after Safety Check got the money in The Tatler Stakes.

The last race on the card, a tricky looking apprentice handicap wasn’t really the race to risk a winning day on so betting would have been tight. The late withdrawal of the current 4/1 market-leader Balmoral Castle may have put a spanner in the works of many a good book but 12/1 (subject to a 20p Rule) wouldn’t have done too much harm. Judging by the queues of punters looking for refunds on the withdrawn jolly and all bets subject to a deduction there wouldn’t be many bookies getting a ‘flyer’ home. But having probably won, there wouldn’t be too much moaning.

(c) Simon Nott

My  (Award Nominated but sadly unplaced) book ‘Skint Mob – Tales From The Betting Ring’ is a book about the bookies, punters and other 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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