Tales From The Betting Ring – Exeter 12/11/14

It was Student Raceday at Exeter this afternoon, an excellent incentive by Exeter Racecourse to try and get the interest and patronage of the plethora of students who reside in the city and attend the University. It’s quite a well-heeled one too I’m informed, the first choice for those who just miss out on an Oxbridge place. ‘There are plenty of students here and they are still sober too’ chuckled an observant and slightly incredulous Luke Harvey. The Westcountry’s favourite MC was on his way to complete a double act marking racegoers’ cards prior to racing with Richard Hoiles.  Yes Luke’s comment was before the first, it would be churlish to try and guess whence the amiable chap’s benchmark of when it’s weird to be ‘still sober’ comes from so we won’t go there.

Richard and Luke give the bookies the jitters marking the punters' cards.

Richard and Luke give the bookies the jitters marking the punters’ cards.

While two of the nicest professionals in racing got the work over the PA I had a wander over to the bookies. Two of them were looking slightly rough around the edges. Further investigation revealed that they had spent the prior evening cheering Torquay United to their 3-2 win at Barnet. Being the young high-flying fellas they are they flew up there, saw the match, celebrated and then got the early flight home. They could well have been celebrating at breakfast by the looks of them.

Sunglasses can hide a multitude of sins.

Sunglasses can hide a multitude of sins.

Over at pitch number two poor long-suffering right-hand-man Ian of the Jack Bevan (Est 1897) firm was once again on the receiving end of a bollocking from his boss. The boss, Paul, had just finished setting up all the gear when Ian strolled over, once at the pitch he was given both barrels; ‘When my Grandfather used to bet here he’d wander up to the pitch with a piece of chalk in his hand ten minutes before the race, hop on his stool and start betting, these days I have to do the bloody lot’. Ian didn’t say much, so in the silence Jo from the Perry firm piped up, ‘Yes and in the those days it would have been number one too wouldn’t it’ That fanned the flames, the pitch he chipped in from now boasting that number.

Slightly later on the bookies were taking bets rather than giving each other the rub-down. A young lady I assume to be a student approached the suitably chastised Ian and handed over a couple of quid for a bet. ‘Why do all the pretty girls bet with you and not me?’ bemoaned Joe Oliver trading as Dick Oliver in the pitch next door. That’s a tricky one to work out readers.

Why hello ladies....

Why hello ladies….

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/

Via Sundown winning the first race probably didn’t make Ian on the Bevan joint’s day any easier because a even money jolly winning is never a great start. It may not have been all that bad though because there had been plenty of money for Dashaway backed from 10/3 into 5/2 but could only manage third. The second race saw a plunge on American Life backed from 11/4 into 7/4f. The gamble was landed but not in the manner his backers would have liked. It was a heartbreaking race for the bookies. Their dream result 66/1 shot Absolutely Bygones was two lengths clear at the last and having opened at 50/1 probably a ‘skinner’ for most books. Just when the ring started to cheer they were caught in their throats as the money was swamped under the judges nose by the winner and 8/1 Unowhatimeanharry.

Students in their racing garb study the odds.

Students in their racing garb study the odds.

It wasn’t just the bookies upset, Armaloft Alex was very emotional. He’d had £40 each-way on the ‘result’ and had to endure a chap next to him saying ‘You’ve got this, you’ve got this’ from a long way out. Anyone who frequents betting shops has suffered it I’m sure, and of course when his potentially huge win was chinned the unwelcome in-running bok added, ‘I thought you had that’. Still Armaloft had at least copped the place money, more importantly we didn’t have to endure him jumping up and down shouting about his good fortune having backed yet another winner and not told us prior to the race.

There appeared to a right old touch landed in the next when Chase The Spud ridden by Paddy Brennan was backed from 20/1 into 12/1 and hosed in. There wasn’t a lot of form to go on but someone appeared to ‘know’. There wasn’t an almighty scream up from the ring so it seems most of the on-course layers heeded the move off course and avoided getting clobbered. Poor old Paddy was brought back to earth with a bump, literally, in the next when his mount, the 5/4 favourite Baby King fell at the last. He wasn’t going to win any way though the race having long been put to bed by 5/1 Pauls Nicholls’ trained Dormello Mo.

All eyes on the race.

All eyes on the race.

Only four lined up for the beginners’ chase, one of them was Ptit Zig and sent off the 2/9 favourite. One punter had a £400 – £1800 and never had to sweat before collecting, the gelding won with some ease and provided Sam Twiston-Davies and Paul Nicholls a rapid and rather bloodless double. The market got the penultimate race totally wrong. Tolkeins Tango opened around 7/4 and drifted to 11/4 while Buckhorn Tom went in the other direction in the betting 11/4 into 15/8. Tolkeins Tango defied the drift to win by three lengths. Anyone who has read my book Skint Mob – Tales From The Betting Ring will have heard of my mate Andrew Mount, anyone reading his new free ‘Trend Horses’ column would have been alerted to the winner https://gg.com/news/betting/trend-horses—tuesday-11-november quite a few of the Exeter bookies have been involved in his three Scoop 6 wins too so would know doubt have heeded his advice despite some caution in the message.

The lucky last featured another short-priced Nicholl’s – Twiston-Davies favourite. Tara Point went off at 3/10f but one punter managed to strike a £400-£1100 (come racing) once again the odds, the bet and a that combo’s treble was landed with very little fuss. I spotted one of the bookies who had been up all night just after the last. He looked like a man who’d suffered for his sins. ‘It wasn’t great’ was his summing up of working all day in the rain with a hangover, and the business? ‘Luckily it was quiet, but we still did our money’. Music to the ears of some I’m sure, especially Barnet fans no doubt.

As I left the course the announcer reported that ‘as it was student day’ the European Space Agency had successfully landed a craft on a comet  millions of miles out in space. The group of students nearest me were all busy ‘twerking,’ pint glasses in hand apparently oblivious to the momentous news assumed only interesting to them. The young ladies were clearly enjoying themselves and quite possibly ‘refreshed’. There was no need to worry Luke, students are still students, just pacing themselves!

(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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