Tales From The Betting Ring – Cheltenham ‘The Open’ 14/11/14

As always it was a pleasure to be back at Cheltenham where the ring was buzzing with the eternal pre-race optimism that always endures. One local bookie was keen to tell me that he had run into an ex-bookmaker who has recently turned his off-course betting business in and become a letting agent. ‘He stuck his chest out, marched over and told me he’s still getting his six-figures a year just in a different game’ bristled the Torquay layer, then added, ‘would n’t have minded but I only asked him if he was well!’.

John Hughes kept busy on #1 pitch in Tatts.

John Hughes kept busy on #1 pitch in Tatts.

There wouldn’t have been many firms getting six-figures in the first, business centered around market-leader Broadway Buffalo with a few grand bets flying around at around 3/1. Also flying around was Geoff Banks, he kept popping up on various joints evidently AWOL from his pitch in the Centaur Building. Jolly-backers must have thought they had a chance of copping with just Benbens to beat but then 5/1 shot Charingworth came to do them both over the last. The winner had been 6/1 but at least the ring got the short one beaten.

Richard Power doesn't look like he's going to give Geoff the job.

Richard Power doesn’t look like he’s going to give Geoff the job.

The Paddy Power Handicap Steeple Chase looked a tricky heat to solve but the punters had plenty of fancies with a lot of horses punted. One of the more seriously backed was David Pipe’s Monetaire supported from 8/1 into 6/1. His backers can feel slightly unlucky not to draw having made a monumental rick at the first and still managing third place behind 14/1 winner Bold Henry who was a drifter from 11/1.

One of our hounds is missing, has anyone seen it?

One of our hounds is missing, has anyone seen it?

The third race was preceded with a display of huntsmen and hounds. One of the pack decided to have a wander around in the betting ring much to the amusement of those present. It was last seen being fed hot-dogs at the far end of Tatts showing no inclination to return from the lap of luxury to go chasing around after imaginary foxes. It was warming to know he was missed with the cry going up over the public address, ‘Has anyone seen a hound, we are one short’. They had plenty of time to find him because the start of the race was delayed to doll off all the fences in the home straight made perilous due to the low sun.

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/


Found him, he's over here.

Found him, he’s over here.

By the time the race got underway Colour Squadron had been backed from 9/4 into 7/4f. ‘I had to stick my neck out to get him in but still haven’t got it for enough’ was Carl on the Cliff Emery joint’s summing up. He got it right even though he didn’t get his whack because the jolly had to settle for second behind 7/2 Champagne West. The winner had been 4/1 and attracted at least a couple of grand bets at that price. Not up at end where Derek and Helen Barnes were betting though. ‘It’s all small but we keep winning a bit here and a bit there’ was the cheery news from behind the joint.

Lest we forget.

Lest we forget.

The ‘result’ the ring was waiting for popped in the next. There had been money for Blaklion at around 7/4 into 13/8, Minella Present and notably Port Melon smashed into 5/2 from 4/1, that takes some doing with the formidable rail of books present. All that money stayed with the bookmakers, the race went to Parlour Games which had been allowed to drift from 8/1 to 10/1, the outsider of all those given a realistic chance.

No sign of Boss Ben, but fear not, the staff kept tapping away.

No sign of Boss Ben, but fear not, the staff kept tapping away.

The layers stopped short of embarking on ‘Skinner Walks’ and the ultimate ‘I’ve copped the lot’ call of ‘Pay Pay’ (knowing that all there is to do is count the money as there is nobody to pay). The smiles were broad though. At least in most places. ‘It’s no good good today, I take more money at Kempton’ one firm down at the wrong end of the rails confided. There may be a tip for any layers that are finding business tough, get a camera to point at you. Channel 4’s Tanya only had to hop on the joint to talk to the late great Freddie Williams’ daughter for the punters to almost fight to get on. Some people will happily have a tenner on one for 5 seconds of fame.

'They think they are going to be famous - don't tell them the lens cap is still on'

‘They think they are going to be famous – don’t tell them the lens cap is still on’


It may have been profitable vanity though because the race to come was the Glenfarclas Cross Country Steeple Chase. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, these races are the ones where they seem to go around and around and around until the favourite wins.  ‘We need this one beaten’ was the message from one of the only rails firms who appeared to have got stuck into Balthazar King. Sadly for him, this year’s outcome was no exception the 4/7f landing the spoils and a plethora of bets including a £4000 – £6000.

On the lucky lucky last, no need to push you're all on.

On the lucky lucky last, no need to push you’re all on.

The last, the Michael Scudamore Handicap Hurdle was possibly the best betting heat of the day. There were plenty of wagers for Cup Final backed from 6/4 into 5/4 plus a £20,000 – £1000 each-way on Cloudy Beach which would have made the race interesting for the book that laid it. At the whistle though the money went to Morito Du Berlais, although quietly backed, including a not so quiet £7000-£1000 each-way it returned 8/1 and was a cracking result for those that filled their hods with the bundles for the jolly.

Day one to the bookmakers, but of course, it’s not over yet. Back tomorrow, now then, has anyone seen that hound….

(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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