Tales From The Betting Ring – Kempton 25/09/14

My third day of the week at Kempton and another eight-race card. The crowd seemed a bit varied as if often the case at the Sunbury course. Once again eves-dropping in front of the rails yielded some blog fodder. There were a trio of be-suited young chaps stood in front of the bookies. One looked a little out of his comfort zone and asked his companions which horse he should back. They looked at him and looked at each other with a smirk, then one replied dismissively in a sneering questioning tone; ‘What else would you back in this race but Captain Marmalade?’ Captain Marmalade was trading around the even money mark for the maiden auction stakes at time. I assumed that was the reason for his confidence rather than a hot-line to Roger Charlton. He finished off with; ‘He’s going to walk it, of course you could always be romantic and back a loser.’

The scolded punter didn’t reply but wandered up to the rails to have his bet.

I’m hoping it was a ‘romantic’ bet and that the over-confident duo had too much on the jolly because it didn’t ‘walk it’ rather ran slower than three others. Mountain Rescue won the race at 8/1 with the ‘good thing’ back in fourth. One expensive lesson learned by two novice punters I’d wager, but let’s hope it doesn’t put them off. I’d like to finish up by saying that I saw their companion going up to draw, but try as I might I didn’t spot him.


Racing is a precarious old game to get too bullish about, even if you are a racecourse regular. One who fits that bill nicely obviously fancies his chances as a paddock judge. He sidled up to me talking from the corner of his mouth. ‘The favourite’s a certainty, looks a different class to this lot of donkeys’ was his pearl of wisdom. Having got my attention he added that one that couldn’t win was ‘The 1 horse’ which apparently was a horse but more suited to pulling a Fullers cart. I honestly don’t make this stuff up, the ‘cart horse’ Almoqatel was backed from 13/2 into 9/2 and won a nose, the ‘certainty’ was fourth.

The same character was lurking around prior to the next. He did look a little crest-fallen but managed to raise a smile and quipped; ‘Why do you think I don’t wear a tie’ fingering his open-necked shirt. He had no opinions in the next. Karezak would have been the obvious choice hardening from 4/7 to 4/9. That support was all small according to one source who said that there hadn’t been a Dinar of decent money in the ring for the jolly. That must have been a bit annoying for the layers that like to take them on when it became the third losing market-leader of the evening. At least this one managed second.

Some books had started trying to take bets on the fourth before the third was over. Floormen would have been moaning back in my day. Come to think of it we used to moan a lot, probably why bookies don’t need a floorman any more, well that and ‘the machine’ of course.

'We paid the bill the lights are on' (c) Martyn of Leicester -  who doesn't bet here.

‘We paid the bill the lights are on’ (c) Martyn of Leicester – who doesn’t bet here.

Those that did kick on early betting on the next probably got it right because Best Endeavour was the 8/1 winner, though had been 10/1 so maybe not. Once again there was a fair bit of small money flying about but the serious punters appeared to be AWOL, hardly surprising with Newmarket in full swing, no doubt the Rutland Arms was heaving with them.

You’d have to hope that at least some of the punters who backed the 2/1 favourite Barchan in the ‘£25 FREE BET AT Betvictor.com Nursery Handicap Stakes’ were available to avail themselves’ of the sponsor’s kind offer. They did their money in cold blood. Cam Hardie’s mount was not only slowly away but then nearly ended up at Hampton Court the combination veered so wide at the bend. The race went to 4/1 Spring Loaded who won in some style cheered home raucously. I have a new system at Kempton. There is a small allocated owners section in the stands, if you see a gaggle of people in there go ask them before the race which horse is theirs. Judging by the regular noise from that little enclave, follow them and you’ll back plenty of winners, possibly.

The punters got some back in the ‘Download The BetVictor App Now Handicap Stakes’ when Dutch Interior was supported from 4/1 into 11/4f and came with a late swoop to land the punt. Sorry to the sponsors on this occasion, but when you are at the races please have your bets with your friendly on-course bookies. Download the app for use when you are home, support your local betting ring when actually at the races, there’s nothing better than betting in readies and seeing the whites of your bookmaker’s eyes.

Things appeared a bit quiet in the betting for the penultimate, as they tend to with eight-race cards. Then as the last couple were being loaded a young man appeared at the corner of the stands. He got a bookie in his sights and sprinted at full pelt toward him. The bookmaker in his cross hairs looked a little uneasy and became more so as the eager fellow neared him. As the punter skidded to a halt the layer braced himself for a bet he didn’t really want ‘right in the hole’. The two quid he was handed was evidently not what he expected.

Monday’s all-conquering Charlie Appleby yard sent out History Book backed from 3/1 into 9/4 but was struggling from a fair way out. 8/1 Stereo Love won the race by  short head from 10/1 Anya, compounding the pain for favourite backers and topping up a fair night for the rails.

People were drifting off before the last but in their defense it looked a tricky heat.

I bumped into the racecourse regular who got it so wrong in the second. I hadn’t seen him for most of the evening since. Maybe he’d decided a change of gambling codes was the way to go after his form was so off at the races. He looked keen to impart some more words of wisdom. As it was only the last to go  I didn’t think it would hurt to listen. ‘USA to win the Ryder Cup’ he spluttered.

I’m told that’s a golf tournament, anyone know if they have a chance?

(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.


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