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

The usual faces were back today, not all in high spirits as such but full of banter. First right off I was put in my place by one bookmaker who had a ‘new’ face on his joint in his absence yesterday. I had a little joke asking who the bloke in flip-flops and shorts was on his pitch. Maybe a bit cruel as he was in fact very smartly dressed. ‘That bloke has run my betting shop for the last six years and is more of the firm than most of my other staff’ was the fairly curt reply from the normally jovial bookie. With that his clerk (the usual one) noticed a caterpillar crawling up his leg and let out a little shriek to which the bookie spat, That’s hardly a surprise they are attracted to vegetables’

The ranks of bookies somewhat more swelled then yesterday.

The ranks of bookies somewhat more swelled then yesterday.

‘Tall Boy’ Richard  Watson betting under his late father’s name Tim was no less cheerful but slightly less humorous. ‘I’m backing all six favourites in an accumulator today’ he declared with a miserable look to enhance the pessimism. The remark was heard but not commented upon. I had travelled through some heavily rain under leaden skies to get here today, but it seemed the blackest cloud was looming over his head.

Of course it won't rain.

Of course it won’t rain.

Jo at the Ivor Perry joint had a tale to tell too, this from a recent meeting. This one about a punter who thought he’d be able to outwit the bookie and steal from them. The punter came to the joint with a ‘winning’ ticket ripped neatly into quarters. He explained that in his excitement he’d ripped it before he realised it was a winning not losing one. He handed the four pieces over and waited for his winnings. Of course, the bookies know the tickets that they have paid and also the ones that are winning or losing. Rather than just pay it Jo checked the serial number on his list of ‘to pay’ bets. The serial number with the amount to come was on a loser but the name was indeed the winner. When this was pointed out to the punter he quickly said he must have mixed the tickets up and produced the correct bottom. Weirdly it was only for a few quid less than what he had try to claim. Hardly worth the risk of a criminal record for fraud. OK that would be unlikely to happen but it should do. Jo thinks that maybe it was a trial run to see if it would work. Maybe one for bookies to keep an eye out for at bigger meetings and festivals.



The first race did little to cheer the bookmakers, the favourite Sister Of Mercy was backed from even money into 8/11 before scrambling home by a neck. Then it started to rain, it was odds-on we’d get it but had seemingly been charmed until now with the storms appearing to skirt the course. ‘The rain ruined it’ complained a prominent rails book after the 8/13 jolly got beaten in a bobbing finish in the second. He may well have found it hard to get the favourite in the book but others did, including one £2000 bet. It wasn’t just the favourite that attracted money. Richard Pittard also on the rails laid a £2000 – £500 Taghreeb and ‘was happy to get it in’ He wasn’t quite so chirpy when the photo proved it had won by a nose. ‘F*** it ( this is a family blog) I can’t believe it won’ was his less than happy comment. He did have a glimmer of hope when a Stewards’ Enquiry was announced, before they had decided if the result should stand his punter turned up and asked for his £2500. Before Richard could explain he had to wait until the result of the enquiry was announced the punter hit him with ‘I’ll have £2000 of it on Sleeper in the next’.

Richard Pittard awaits his punter with some trepidation.

Richard Pittard awaits his punter with some trepidation.

After Richard had picked himself up off the floor he explained that the man could have the bet but would have to wait for his ticket until the result was announced. By all accounts the punter wasn’t too happy with that, told him to forget it and marched off, clutching his ticket. The Pittards, Mr and Mrs, waited in some trepidation for the punter to come back. When he did return and actually got his mits around the readies his ardour had cooled somewhat. He’d decided not to have the bet.

Sleeper won the next at 7/2.

I did mention to ‘Tall Boy’ Watson he must have been happy he had lost his bet. His reply was somewhat unkind and typical of bookie superstitions  ‘Oh I only put that on because I saw Andrew ‘Monkey’ Wrench here, he’s a bok, whenever he bets they all go in’  He then went on to moan that he’d wasted his stake because he hadn’t realised that Mr Wrench was working as a clerk for the day and not betting under his own name. Oh bother.

And the 'Misery Of The Meeting Award' goes to....

And the ‘Misery Of The Meeting Award’ goes to….

As a footnote, in the fifth race a punter had a £400 bet on Jersey Brown at 12/1. The bookmaker laid him a £4800 to £400 as requested. Had the punter asked for a £5000 – £400 he would have got it. Why? It’s all explained here, http://wp.me/p1dLbd-4x  I’ll say it before and I’ll say it again, on-course punters ALWAYS ask for fractions!!!

(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


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