Tales From The Betting Ring – Cheltenham 17/10/14

It’s all going on at Cheltenham with the new stand and layout a definite work in progress. One of the first people when I saw when I got onto the course was a distraught looking bookie who bets down by the parade ring. ‘Come and have a look at what they have done to us’ he implored with eyes like a lost puppy. I promised I would but got the feeling he would have been distraught where ever his pitch had been positioned.

After discussion with the darling of the press I mentioned un-named in yesterday’s blog I can confirm that it was the Racing Post’s own Andrew King who used to mark the board in Paul Gold’s Pickwick betting shop. He remembered it with some fondness, though confirming tucking his boss up with the pop music bet appeared a fonder memory still. He added that he was a short-headed dog away from getting £2000 from his boss too. Needless to say the affiliation appears to have been short-lived. It was nice to find out that he was and still is into music, though it’s hard to imagine him in his Gothic garb these days.

After such a plea I felt I had to have a look down at the paddock. The books still hadn’t set up when I got there but it did appear that there were plenty of potential punters down by what was after all still the paddock.

The paddock bookies feared the worst, as they do.

The paddock bookies feared the worst, as they do.

The new stand has got the skeleton up and it looks as if it’s going to be pretty impressive when it’s finished. It also looks as if it will be pretty good for bookies who bet down at that end too so I doubt there will be a spate of selling up any day soon.

It's going to look grand when it's finished.

It’s going to look grand when it’s finished.

The betting for the first race of the day was thrown into turmoil just before the off when 9/4 jolly Blaklion was withdrawn at the start. That resulted in a 30p rule 4. One or two books quick off the blocks priced up a new market in the minute or so before the off. One even laid a £1200 – £600 Present View and was no doubt pleased to see it beaten into second.

On the rails they bet.

On the rails they bet.

The second race saw a flurry of money for Chris Pea Green but that one had to settle for second behind  Court Minstrel the well-backed 6/4 favourite. I nipped down to the paddock area after the second. It seemed quite busy. ‘It’s not as bad as I thought’ the doe-eyed bookie informed me with a smile too broad for a layer who’d endured a recent winning favourite. All was not lost it seems.

The handicap hurdle was a 6/1 the field race, the favourite Junction Fourteen had been supported from 10/1 into that price but finished unplaced from easy to back 10/1 shot Sybarite. The Ryman Stationary Cheltenham Business Club Novices’ Chase was a warm betting heat. There were plenty of wagers for Highland Retreat from small 5/4 early into 10/11 including an even £3000. There was also plenty of support for The Romford Pele too, including a £3500 – £2000. The latter won at 9/4 so not the end of the world for the bookie that laid that one, at least you’d hope so.

If in doubt, there's always Spotlight in the Post.

If in doubt, there’s always Spotlight in the Post.

It’s always fun listening in on conversations in the ring. A group of ladies were discussing what to back. ‘I’m going to back Destiny’s Gold each-way’ declared one and then went on to reason, ‘Because the name reminds me of Destiny’s Child’ (I am informed the latter is a popular singing ensemble). I had a chuckle to myself while some punters were wading in on the more obvious selection Commissioned, including a £3000-£6000. The bookie that laid that never really had a hope, the 4/9 shot winning easily. Meanwhile somewhere on the course a gaggle of delighted ladies were no doubt convinced that they had cracked racing when Destiny’s Gold prevailed in a photo for third at 20/1.

‘I’ve only taken one half decent bet in the next’ one front row book informed me, £1600 – £200 each-way The Young Master. Yes of course as I have mentioned it, the gelding won and ruined his day, OK maybe not day, but race. At least he laid the right price, the winner went off at 9/1.

Betting on the last.

Betting on the last.

Vibrato Valtat was all the rage in the last backed from 4/1 into 11/4 favourite, to good money too. Those that backed him must have thought they’d copped as it went to the front after the last. Those high hopes were soon dashed though as 16/1 shot Roman Flight flew past to spoil the party. The jolly eventually faded into third place. The bookies were cheering that one home. ‘No real big bets but lots of decent bets’ was how one summed the business up. The hods will be full tomorrow, chests even more puffed out even more in the first?

(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 


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