Tales From The Betting Ring – Kempton 30/10/14

The meeting had a very somber feel to it before it even started. Everyone who knew him was still stunned that our colleague and great racing mate Alec Baker had died suddenly on Monday. Alec worked for the Press Association as an SP returner and was with us at Newbury on Friday and Saturday. His death is a great shock and loss to everyone, such a lovely man always full of fun, he will be sadly missed. Sincere and heartfelt condolences go out to his family and friends. R.I.P Alec.

The first race, The Come Jump Racing At Kempton Park Selling Stakes, boasted just four runners and only two if the betting was to be believed. It was. New Colours was backed from into 4/5 and won with some ease. ‘Yes a skinner’ smiled one bookmaker somewhat incredulously  then cleared it up by adding it was  for a tenner. Needless to say business didn’t appear that lively, not the end of the world when a jolly has just hosed in though. Regardless of the size of the business the punters in attendance were having fun. One lady in the stands sounded like she was being murdered before becoming apparent she’d backed the winner. When it’s quiet at Kempton you can hear who’s backed what.

They don't call them Twilight meetings for nothing.

They don’t call them Twilight meetings for nothing.

Business appeared to pick up a bit for the BetVictor.com Maiden Stakes. British Art touched 1/2 but returned 4/6, that weakness would have been a worry for his backers. Having said that, that drift was possibly more to do with the sustained support for the eventual winner Upstaging backed from 13/2 into 5/1 in the live market than a negative for the favourite. The gamble was landed with the jolly back in third. One shrewd punter, John Henwood Jnr had reason to smile, ‘Got up early and got some 11/1 in the betting shop’ he informed me. It eventually transpired or was at least rumoured that one layer on course had been taken to the tune of about ten grand the winner which can’t have been very nice, no wonder he wasn’t boasting about it.

photo 1

The highs and lows of punting were quickly illustrated in The £25 Free Bat At BetVictor.com Handicap Stakes which followed. Henwood jnr’s bet, the 14/1 shot Pipers Note, looked to have done enough to win only for Steel River to step up his gears to win going away. Once again there was a roar from a section of the crowd which mercifully drowned out our hero’s groan.

One racecourse regular told me that there had been a discussion on an on-line racing forum recently where someone had asked ‘Why anyone would go racing?’ For those of us that live it and love it where do you start. But for people just wanting a bet, well each-way for a start, fractions, see here  http://wp.me/p1dLbd-4x  there’s still some terrific value to be had on-course. Not paying commission is another. The books generally bet to a very tight margin, take the exchanges slice from your bet and there really isn’t a lot in it. You are in the heart of the action, info you can glean from listening in the betting ring can be invaluable. The paddock is another place where you can learn knowledge that will help you pick winners, and more importantly avoid losers, for the rest of your (on-course) punting life. There are plenty of experienced eyes that will impart their secrets to keen novices. The atmosphere, the characters, just being there betting in cash. Oh and the main reason, you can wear loud tweed that would get you laughed out of town anywhere else with impunity and in rare cases admiration!

Is that one limping?

Is that one limping?

The Download The BetVictor Instabet App Nursery Handicap Stakes went to Khusoosy having been supported from 4/1 into 7/2. ‘Go on Paul’ screamed one punter, his arm windmilling an imaginary whip  he ‘Go on Paul’ed  long after Paul [Hanangan] had ‘gone on’. I assume he backed it with the bookies and not the sponsor’s app. It’s not the same giving your phone the rub-down when collecting. Of course the app is no doubt different class, just not like betting with readies. Racegoers were treated to a tremendous finish in the fifth with 11/2 winner Billingsgate rewarding his backers. There had also been some interest in Heisman at around 7/1, if that interest was with the places those backers drew too with the colt finishing third of the 14 runners.

photo 1


The Follow @BetVictorRacing On Twitter Handicap Stakes (follow me too if you like @SimonNott) was well-contested even if the prize to the winner was a rather modest £1519. I was nudged by an ex-bookie who pointed to a punter neither of us had seen for donkeys’ years. Back in the day he’d have had three times the prize money per race as a bet. It was probably a coincidence that he happened  in the vicinity of the ring when a Tsarglas was backed from 4/1 into 2/1. The bookies were busier by this time, the crowd having swelled somewhat. The gamble never ever looked like being landed, the race and prize money went to Cadmium under Leah-Ann Avery at a not un-fancied 4/1. The chap who was once a big punter stayed staring at the big screen for quite some time after the race. I’ve seen bookies do that, it’s not often a good sign.

I spotted a couple of guys on the edge of the ring both with reams of paper. At first I thought that they may be collecting signatures or doing a survey or something. In actual fact they were holding what looked liked computer print-outs of form and were in deep conversation. It would taken a fairly lateral interpretation of the figures to come up with the winner of the penultimate 12/1 and last, last time out Spinning Cobblers. Some people have said that’s what I do in this blog, spin cobblers, but I can assure any readers that all these tales are true.

Clary saw some support in the lucky last backed from 12/1 into 8/1 while one notable rails firm appeared to be ducking Dream And Hope which was 2/1 at the off. The rails firm got it right, the jolly got the money for favourite backers. It was still a winning night for the bookies, at least you’d hope so, or actually you probably don’t!

(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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2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Hud on October 31, 2014 at 12:46 am

    Armaloft Alec or is than AN Other? RIP and condolences to his family also.


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