Tales From The Betting Ring – Salisbury 13/08/14

It was great to be back on the turf after a short holiday. I passed Rupert Mackeson selling his books including ‘Skint Mob’ on my way in. He still had a couple left to sell after Glorious Goodwood so wasn’t wanting to restock. I was more interested in asking him when he is going to finish his autobiography. He chuckled and said he had started it ‘But was still waiting for someone to die’ before he could publish it. I’m sure most people that go racing in the south are familiar with the grey haired gent with a stick that sells books and racing prints. You may not be aware of the story he has to tell that would probably be more interesting than all the books on his stall put together. If you are interested Google him. I’ll whet your appetites with a quote from Scotland Yard I found when Googling ‘Only Ronnie Biggs has given us more trouble than Rupert Mackeson’

Salisbury is always a pleasure to be at, but there did seem to be a lot of familar bookmakers missing. I was baffled for a short while but Simon James on the rails enlightened me. ‘Newton Abbot’. He’d sold his pitch although he’s based in Plymouth, ‘Couldn’t take £200 a race in my pitch’ was his quite reasonable reason for flogging his nearest place of work, ‘It was a rubbish pitch though’ he mused after no doubt contemplating the petrol costs and hours on the road.

Hands up all those bookies who drove past Newton Abbot to get to Salisbury. OK just smile then.

Hands up all those bookies who drove past Newton Abbot to get to Salisbury. OK just smile then.

It did appear for a while as if business wouldn’t be too great here today either. It did seem rather sleepy in rather depleted ring. Some of the regular faces were indeed on the ‘Missing presumed Newton Abbot’ list but had sent B and C teams, some of whom I’d never clapped eyes on before. Bo Brown trading as West End was there though. I arrived at his pitch just in time to hear him answer ‘£1 each-way’ to one of the most often-used questions in summer racing, ‘What’s your minimum bet?’

I gave him the old ‘Not again’ look but he called me over with a smile and related a story from a recent undisclosed meeting. Apparently a lady waited in his queue then when her turn arrived she very politely enquired as to his minimum bet. He replied £1 each-way, she smiled and dug into her purse and asked for £40 to win. ‘£40 win?!’ Our stunned hero questioned, then asked why she had asked about the minimum bet. ‘Oh I thought it might be £50’ was her answer.

‘How much would I take with a £50 minimum sign up?’ chuckled our man as he lobbed two more pound coins into the smash.

He may have been surprised as it turned out. The racecourse did appear to be filled with people on a day out and the minimum bet on but there were a punter or two lurking in their midst. One of them had a grand on Desert Force in the first, he left that behind when 5/1 shot Twilight Son won the race. The bigger punters came in again in the second this time on Darshini at around evens if you were quick and a shade of odds on. They left that behind too, in fact that jolly only beat one home.

Limbering up to take all those bets.

Limbering up to take all those bets.

The 3.25 handicap looked competitive, it proved so in the betting too. A lot of punters complain that these days there is no point shopping around in the ring for value. Not so in this race. There had been a whisper on the morning that a shrewd judge had put up a good case for Between Wickets. There was plenty of 16/1 and 14/1 available in the morning. In the live betting prices varied from 11/1 to 8/1 to be snapped up at one time with the bookies. Maybe some had their ears closer to the ground than others. Those that were over the odds were made to pay, the price tumbled to 8/1 at the off and the gamble was landed. One book was made to suffer to the tune of  laying ten monkeys the winner. That punter’s winnings were trimmed by £500 with a Rule 4 but still beat the SP.

Hopefully the layer in question got it back in the next when 20/1 Lady Pimpernel won the featured listed race. Once again any winnings were subject to a Rule 4, this time 15p in the pound on all winning bets. Looking around the ring it didn’t seem if there would be much deducting though all stakes were refunded on 11/2 Albasharah who refused to enter the stalls which would have taken a chunk out of their winnings.

The last two races went to jollies so the ring ended the day on the back foot. The whole travelling circus returns tomorrow, including some Newton Abbot philanderers too no doubt, maybe ruing missing Salisbury after four of their favourites won.

(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 


It’s also available on Amazon and on Kindle.


Available on Nook


Available on Kobo



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