Tales The Betting Ring – Salisbury 29/08/14

Nightmare traffic, hopefully the last of the summer season, ensured that there were some red-faced bookies running onto the course just in time for pitching up. Those puffing and panting were a funny old sight. Not as funny as the looks on the faces of those with lesser picks who had been eyeing better pitches to bet in when they clocked they’d just made it. The hope of a move-up at the expense of some unfortunate still a guilty pleasure for some bookies it seems.

At least they all turned up. Superstitions as well as the times  must have changed because while pottering along behind a whole flotilla of caravans (Skint Mob!) trundling back to the Midlands and London way I passed the worst  vehicle imaginable. Well it was if you were my first old bookie boss Jack Lynn, a hearse. Back in the day he would seriously consider turning around at the next possible opportunity and head on home. The hearse complete with recently dearly departed occupant was considered the ultimate bok, so certain were you to lose after seeing one before racing spinning around was the cheapest option. I left plenty early enough so assume some firms passed the same last taxi ride.

The one I saw was nowhere near as cool as this one, but still unlucky for bookies i expect.

The one I saw was nowhere near as cool as this one, but still unlucky for bookies i expect.

Back in the day there may have been a stewards’ enquiry in the Lynn car because on closer inspection whilst there were a multitude of flowers in said hearse, no coffin. The empty hearse just being considered bloody unlucky but not terminal, more the mockers than the bok so worth chancing.

Which leads me nicely on to being ‘Late’.

One of the first red-faced bookmakers I saw on course was Richard Watson. Regular readers might remember I mentioned that Richard was betting in his late father Tim’s pitch. ‘Being dead was news to  my dad when he made me a coffee this morning’ he informed me gravely. Needless to say I was mortified, well, very pleased to hear that his veteran bookie father was still alive and kicking but mortified  that I’d given him the prefix ‘late’ prematurely. Sincere apologies Tim.

‘That must have been the reason I looked so miserable’ joked Richard during a lull  betting on the first then adding with a grin ‘I thought my dad had died!’ Great stuff, not only had he taken my awful error well, his whole grumpy demeanour appeared to have improved markedly.  I did try to get a picture as proof, I mentioned that our hero might look a bit cheerful but his oppo Steve Copplestone looked up and rather churlishly said that ‘Don’t worry if it looks like a smile, people will just think it’s wind’,

Wind or a smile? You decide.

Wind or a smile? You decide.

There was a bit of humour around the paddock too. One story passed on to me was that watching the Geoffrey Deacon duo of Takitwo and Having A Ball  being paraded a connection was heard to comment ‘When we passed Stonehenge we glanced in the back to the horse’s and guessed that pair were older!’

There wasn’t a lot of jocular chatter among some firms on the rails after the race though. There had been a mini punt on Pendo, with several bottle bets and bigger going in at 7/1, probably accounting for the winning SP of 5/1. The Takitwo connections were no doubt overjoyed that their ‘prehistoric’ charge finished in the money in third. The punters went in for the kill again in the next backing Fast Dancer from 3/1 into 15/8 including a bet of £1100 – £400 but they did their money when the gamble had to settle for second behind easy to back 5/1 to 7/1 shot Wet Sail. By the this time the crowd was pretty impressive so the books seemed to be filling their hods with plenty bets, however modest.

On the grass they bet.....

On the grass they bet…..

Maybe the bigger punters should have kept their powder dry because Silver Quay won the Nursery 3/1 into 9/4 easy as you like. The next jolly won too, Elm Park 9/4 into 15/8. There wasn’t a lot of serious money on course for it but one punter did have a £1400 – £700 Tupi. It can’t have been much fun for that plucky punter to watch his fancy trail in last. The word from down on the grass was that that although the punters were betting with them and they were doing a lot of tickets ‘Nothing was happening’.

Not only the bookies were hindered by the traffic, Richard Hughes missed his previous two rides, including a winner. He made it for the penultimate to partner Cape Caster, any punters who took that as a hint were rewarded with a 7/1 winner.  The the lucky last, run in already fading light at 7.40, a flip-start featured 13 runners but that didn’t put punters off backing Taws from 3/1 into 9/4 including a bet of £1100-£400 and Cinnilla 6/1 into 7/2. The latter  won by what seemed like half the track and their bookies did their money, you’d have thought to the joy of the punters  but by the time the horses had passed the post the Queen tribute band were limbering up and the punters, even the winning ones, appeared more interested in the band than the disconsolate layers, all doing great impressions of Richard Watson!

Most of the bookies were heading back to the Westcountry for Newton Abbot, but me, I’m off to Sandown.

(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





3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by dave bindon on September 1, 2014 at 3:27 pm

    On holiday at present mate but enjoying following you. Remind me to enlighten you on the Newbury cloak room charge( referred to in book ) keep forgetting !


  2. Posted by peppercornrex on September 2, 2014 at 8:01 am

    just came across your site, will follow with interest as I love the betting ring banter and the comeradey and seeing where the money went


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