Tales From The Betting Ring – Exeter 09/10/14

It was great to be back at my local course Exeter for the start of their new season. The weather was pretty miserable though, it’s nice when it’s not but at this time of year to be expected on top of Haldon Hill. That wouldn’t explain the gloom at the Jack Bevan (Est 1887) joint. ‘Don’t bring your troubles to work’ scolded boss Paul to slave, sorry workman Ian. I didn’t like to ask, so didn’t. Ian didn’t appear too gloomy to be fair so I left them to it. Shadarpour won the 1st af 10/3, not the favourite but almost so probably not the best time to check the tempers in the ring.

The first bet i ever had on course was with Ricky and Son at Cheltenham in 1983, here's 'And Son' also called Ricky.

The first bet I ever had on course was with Ricky and Son at Cheltenham in 1983, here’s ‘And Son’ also called Ricky.

Between races we had some banter over the runners in the next. Yabadabadoo looked like it was going to be favourite. ‘Stones better off’ quipped one wag, before adding, ‘Will have to jump boulder than it has done’. Yes very droll, it took some longer than others to get the joke. I overheard a couple of punters chatting as they sheltered from the torrential rain. ‘Do you know what the difference is between here and Newton Abbot?’ one chap asked his companion. Then without waiting for his reply, he told him, ‘The Weather’. With that he peered out into the ring and the bookies huddling under their umbrellas taking precedent to taking bets.

Joe Oliver has been around for ages, I wonder why he had to borrow Pickwick's mush?

Joe Oliver has been around for ages, I wonder why he had to borrow Pickwick’s mush? Did they borrow Ricky’s coat too?

If he peered hard enough he would have been able to make out a race taking place at Worcester up on the big screen. We had no idea what was running but something won with its head in its chest by what looked like the best part of a distance. ‘If that’s a handicap that jockey is in for a bollocking’ my workmate mused, nodding at the screen.

Rain didn't stop play though.

Rain didn’t stop play though.

He didn’t nod too long though because our next race was imminent, it wasn’t just witty puns flying around the ring for Yabadabadoo in the next, there was plenty of money too. Early-birds got on at 3/1 before the price hardened to 5/2 at the off. His backers had a lot to shout about at the business end of the race with their fancy looking like landing the bets. Those cheers were stiffled when Ni Sin E Mo Ainm came to spoil the party out-battling the jolly it the final strides.

'Looks like the jolly to me'

‘Looks like the jolly to me’

Just after the winner had been announced my mate’s phone went. He answered it with the jovial familiarity reserved for a well-known caller. His demeanor was cheerful enough to begin with though soon cooled, the conversation ended with a grimace. It was Graham, our absent workmate. ‘That horse away, that was Topthorn one he has a share in, he just called to say he backed it at 25/1’. For new readers, Graham has form for this sort of thing, here’s one of the more infamous events. http://wp.me/p1dLbd-7x

This time his excuse for calling us to give us the rub-down after a 25/1 into 16/1 gamble was landed by 24 lengths was that he didn’t think it would win. He had backed it though. Why? Well just because they had found out that it had been off-colour on its previous few runs, which had now been cured, was on a 14lb better mark that when it last won, oh and they thought the cheek pieces might sharpen up its jumping. Yep, that sounds like a great reason to chuck a few quid at a 25/1 shot to me, it’s not the not being told, it’s the rub-down that gets you, the rub-down.

It was really pouring by the time the third got underway. The punters couldn’t choose which one of the five should win with three going off at 11/4 co-favourites. Two of the three filled the first two places Caulfields Venture won with a couple of lengths in hand. Things looked much more cut and dried in the next. Many Stars was backed from 8/11 into 4/7 including a bet of £800 – £1300. The support was justified, but only just. You’d have to hope that the punter that had the lump on doesn’t suffer with nerves. The jolly never looked like winning, in fact looked cooked turning for home. but got up in the last 150 years to win by 3/4 of a length. The bookies looked distraught ‘When are we going to get a result here’ one bleated. I didn’t like to point out that the season was only four races old and that was the first clear favourite, but you could see where he was coming from.

Only a shower

Only a shower

It didn’t get any better in the penultimate. If you are looking for any sort of plus side for the poor bookies at least Landau always looked like winning. Those punters that took £400-£900 the 1/3 shot (come racing) must have been feeling quite smug from a long way out. There had been two markets on course, each-way and win-only. The books that bet the punters for the places had a scare when Bajardo was backed from 33/1 into 20/1 and was up there in the vanguard for a long way, only run out of it after the last.

The lucky last saw a tilt at the ring when Bajan Blu was backed from 6/1 into 3/1 including a bet of £2400 – £400. The gamble was so nearly landed but was eventually thwarted by 5/1 Prettyasapicture after an extended tussle after the last.

That must have been OK for the books right? Paul Metcalfe on the Jack Bevan (Est 1987) joint just looked at me and answered, ‘When’s Royal Ascot’? Oooops. Oh well, there’s always the rest of the season, but for the time being, as the announcer at the course would say.

‘That is All’

(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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