Tales From The Betting Ring – Wincanton 16/10/14

It was an absolute pleasure to be back at Wincanton after their close-season. It seemed I wasn’t the only one glad to be back with a excellent crowd turning out for the six races. The front line of bookies was also full so all good for the afternoon’s action. Having been away from the summer jumping scene I’d largely missed some much-loved characters. The disembodied but dulcet tones of local lad made good ‘Leglock’ Luke Harvey were welcoming to the ears from the sound system. Luke was interviewing various racing celebrities over in the parade ring. He appeared to admit that he’d had ‘A quiet 3 or 4 years on the tipping front’ – blimey, you have to hope that if he has any loyal followers they have  a very modest staking plan and a bigger tank than those you see on the A303 near Lark Hill. Maybe his being out of form on the picking winners front is why he still perseveres in trying to winkle one out of David Pipe. It’s always fun to listen to, but you never hear anything that prompts you to reach for your notebook. If he ever turns in churning out winners (that he’s not going to tip up to Luke) Dave should consider a career in politics!

They tell me Andrew Williams of the GT firm was once voted 'Mr Betting Ring Pin Up Dream Boy of 1987' mind you, they do tell me a lot of rubbish. Mossy?

They tell me Andrew Williams of the GT firm was once voted ‘Mr Betting Ring Pin Up Dream Boy of 1987’ mind you, they do tell me a lot of rubbish. Mossy?

I had a wander down the line of bookies for a chat nice and early because it really looked as if they would be busy. A couple of Plymouth bookies were intrigued to know the identity of the chap mentioned in a previous blog who got upset when I questioned that his childhood estate in said city wasn’t, as he had claimed ‘The roughest in England’. When I enlightened them it appeard there was going to be a stewards’ inquiry into if that estate was even in Plymouth. Sadly the gent in question wasn’t there to argue his case, I will fan the flames and remind them again when he is betting – insert evil cackle here.

The calm before the storm on the front row.

The calm before the storm on the front row.


Paul Gold of Pickwick Bookmakers told me a rather surprising story about a respected regular of the Westcountry press rooms. It seems that the veteran scribbler and latter-day laptop tapper started his career as a board-marker  in his first betting shop. He added that back in the day he was also well into music, with that his mood darkened ‘He tucked me up for £50 when some band called Frankie Goes To Hollywood made it to number one’. It appeared by his tone that the genial Tewkesbury layer hasn’t quite forgiven him for that nifty, his parting shot was ‘He’s a better journalist than he was a board-marker’. A bookie never forgets eh? I didn’t get a chance to confirm these stories with the gent in question, I shall collar him at Cheltenham tomorrow, watch this space.

Onto the racing. In the first the form figures from the judges all pointed to Prettyasapicture and was steady around the 9/4 mark as market leader. That was despite money Thespis Of Icaria including an £8000 – £1000, each-way support for Guiding George and sustained money for Con Forza 7/1 into 9/2. None of them won, 5/1 Jaja De Jau was too good for the jolly winning by almost three lengths at the line. The bookies got another favourite beaten into second in the next when Rogue Dancer was no match for gambled-on (12/1 into 8/1) I’m In Charge.

The market just about managed to sort out which one was best fancied in the third. The punters made Taaresh the 5/2 jolly after the betting had been hovering around the 11/4 each of three mark for much of exchanges. They got it right too, rewarding favourite-backers with their first winner of Wincanton’s new season.

This blog’s favourite trainer, Nick Williams, the genius of George Nympton had a runner in the next. ‘He’s got a new suit on’ panted one well-known punter who wished to remain nameless. This was big news because his charge Greywell Boy was 12/1 at the time and it’s long been a theory that Nick Williams often turns up in best bib and tucker when he expects one to win. The punter-who-cannot-be-named obviously saw the ‘should I be on’ look on my face so quickly elaborated, ‘ It’s a nice suit but it makes him look a little like a Gothic Inspector Clouseau, oh and add to that it will need the run’. Not being noted as a dedicated follower of fashion the description of the suit was to be taken with a pinch of salt, but he does know the yard and appeared spot on about the run being needed , despite seeing some support in the ring. 9/1 Hollow Penny won the race, which pleased the bookies.

The heavens opened before the fifth, that downpour probably saved some of the layers an even bigger pay-out when Jayo Time justified being lumped on from 15/8 into 6/4 from Flash Crash. The runner-up may be one to watch having been easy to back and a little late getting going but flying at the finish. Don’t listen to me though, I’m a worse tipster than Leglock.

Lumpys Gold and Milord were both 15/8 at some stage in the betting for the last before the former hardened into 11/8 and the latter out to 5/2. The punters got it wrong this time Milord getting home a head in front of 8/1 shot Neville, the jolly only managed fourth. That topped off a fair day on paper for the bookies which should see them pitch up at Cheltenham tomorrow with their chests out.  Let’s see how that goes.

(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 John Ayer on October 16, 2014 at 10:26 pm

    Why are the same bookmakers always featured? Moses did come out of of the bulrushes.


    • I do tend to speak to the same ones, some are keener to chat than others, I will endeavor to cast my net further in future. Point taken and many thanks for taking the time to read my blog.


  2. Hi Simon Jon And I spoke to Kevin Sharp & he was brought up in Bovey Tracey which i agrre is rough but not in Plymouth as per usual Mr Sharp is pulling someones leg


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