Tales From The Betting Ring – Exeter 04/11/14 Haldon Gold Cup

The Vix Technology Haldon Gold Cup Day is traditionally the busiest day of the year up at Exeter Racecourse and I’d imagine this year was no exception. I’d also imagine that quite a few building projects ground to a halt in the Tiverton area at least judging by the number of builders ‘not at work’ present. Not only were there some familiar construction workers on course but some old faces from rings of backalong. It was nice to see now veteran floorman Badger back on course looking well. I’m sure he can still spot a ‘scoop’ from the furlong pole too, just maybe not scamper for it as quick as he used to be able to. Also in attendance and not spotted for a while was ‘Adge’, he was a master of the NH form book when he worked on course, sometimes with me back in the 1990’s. He’d spend the winter working on course when not following the sun and the summer on the boats between Torquay and Brixham, excellent to see him back on the turf again too.

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A lady that is still a racecourse regular whispered in my ear and told me that she had heard the Harry Fry horses were fancied in the first two races. She had done the double and suggested that I should follow her in. The first was Thomas Brown in the opener, backed from 5/4 into 5/6 and won nicely. Unencumbered with my money as I foolishly decided not to heed her advice and get involved. It wasn’t a great start for the ring, the first jolly of the day winning rarely is.

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The second leg of the double was Jollyallan. I’m not sure quite how big the double the lady with the whisper had on but I doubt it accounted for the massive move on the gelding. 7/2 had been available early but that was smashed into 15/8 at the off. The confidence in the betting was matched by that shown by the champ AP McCoy during the race. His supporters must have always felt they were on the winner, there was a slight blip when he hung left after the last but the race was soon put the bed and the double landed. I was going to congratulate my informant but she was too busy picking up what looked to be a nice bundle of readies from Jack Bevan and Co who had stood for the double at the top prices. Give him his due, boss Paul did managed to pay out with a smile of sorts.

The books got stuck into the Gold Cup with two nasty losing races under their belts. The money appeared  for Cue Card forcing the early 5/2 into 13/8 at the off. It did seem that some books had decided to get stuck into the short one and try and get some back. Those that did fill the hod and hope to keep the cash were rewarded for their stance when God’s Own answered their prayers trouncing the field. The winner had been weak in the market drifting from 6/1 to 8/1 but belied the apparent lack of confidence. The bookies were back in the game.

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Word must go out to compare ‘Leglock’ Luke Harvey who really does gee up the atmosphere with his infectious enthusiasm booming out from the parade ring. Equally buoyant was one bookie who was also at Kempton yesterday, he said he had taken more money on the first race here than he did all day up at Sunbury yesterday. I’d best not name him in case he ever wants to knock that pitch out. Carole’s Destrier was eventually sent off just favourite at 2/1 in the fourth but justified that position putting the ring on the back foot again.

As an interlude this blog has been entered into the UK Blog Awards if you could vote for me I’d be very grateful http://www.blogawardsuk.co.uk/candidates/Tales-From-The-Betting-Ring-2/

The Smith & Williamson Handicap Chase was held up while all the fences on the far side of the course were dolled off due to low sun. It was then held up again while a race a Southwell finished. There had been money for Ziga Boy 9/2 into 7/2 and a lively outsider Flaming Charmer backed from 25/1 into 16/1 but it was last year’s winner Gas Line Boy that got the money at 7/1 having been nibbled from 8/1.

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The penultimate handicap hurdle was also delayed because of the sun with hurdles dolled off for safety reasons. It was the bookies running for cover when support came for Bygones Sovereign from around 7/1 into 4/1. Exeter bookmakers know to their cost that you don’t take liberties when a horse from the David Pipe stable is backed. It wasn’t all one-way traffic though, Regal Flow also saw support from 10/1 into 15/2 while market leader Royal Native was clipped from 7/2 into 3/1. This time the money was way off the mark, much to the delight of the firms. The winner Drum Deal was a drifter from 7/1 out to 10/1 but beat the jolly by almost four lengths.

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The lucky last was a 17-runner handicap hurdle so not one for the bookies to take too much of an opinion on. It was on the other hand an ideal medium for punters ‘getting out stakes’ with plenty of horses attracting support. The race didn’t turn out to be as competitive as it looked with 7/1 shot Definitely Better winning with some ease. The reaction from the bookies was mixed, a chap we shall just name as ‘Bob’ who didn’t want to be identified was reluctant to say how his boss got on. ‘It wasn’t very exciting’ was his rather downbeat summing up. I’m not sure ‘Bob’ was being 100% honest because another old-time Westcountry layer was very pleased with the business. When I asked him for a quote he was desperately trying to think of something funny yet derogatory to say about his about his pitch partner. Luckily for ‘Tall Boy Watson’ he couldn’t in the time it took me to rush off to the car!

The big local meeting keep coming, Saturday it’s Wincanton for Badger Beer Day.

(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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