Tales From The Betting Ring – Injured Jockeys Fund 50th Anniversary Raceday – Wincanton 20/11/14

Today’s Injured Jockeys Fund 50th Anniversary Raceday at  Wincanton clashed with the not too far off Chepstow. It did appear to take a few bookies away but had no effect on the size of the crowd which was extremely respectable. One chap that’s been more part of the crowd in recent years than a one of the bookies is our old mate Dave Moss, or ‘Mossy’. He seemed to be well-chuffed to be employed on Mike Smale’s joint in Tattersalls, he’d even put a tie on. Of course, with anyone who has been on the missing list for a bit, and working for a new boss he was in for some ribbing. Little jests like ‘Don’t forget to make him roll his sleeves up if he goes in the hod’ and ‘I assume he’s not being paid’ just rolled off his back. Then, out of the bar with a jibe that cut was Yeovil based bookie Richard Pittard who someone cruelly shouted across, ‘See Mossy I told you that you weren’t unemployable’. Nasty that was Richard, you rascal.

Elastic bands up his sleeves? Not our Mossy....

Elastic bands up his sleeves? Not our Mossy….

Armaloft Alex was employed again, by Martyn of Leicester as he was at Cheltenham, maybe the arm was being given the second chance. On further investigation though it appeared not many of the Martyn’s not so loyal local staff ‘wanted to get up at ‘sparrow’s fart’ to come down here the long way’. Their loss Armaloft’s gain. Both the aforementioned workmen were far too busy for gossip once betting got underway for the first, The Lenny Roberts Memorial Trophy.

Aristocracy opened up around the 2/1 mark but was then a drifter out to 7/2 in the face of sustained support for Fuse Wire 9/2 into 7/2 the pair going off as joint-favourites. Backers of Fuse Wire would have been getting jittery when the beast appeared less than keen to go to the start to justify the support, eventually being jogged down there. Luckily for his punters once at the start with the rest of the field he set off fine. It’s possible that those that did get involved with the gamble wished in hindsight he’d dug his hooves in a bit more because the market got it wrong, Aristocracy foiled the gamble by three lengths.

Brisk business in Tatts.

Brisk business in Tatts.

The often accurately predictive market put people away again in the next, a handicap chase sponsored by Bathwick Tyres Yeovil. Quite By Chance was backed from 3/1 into 2/1 including three monkeys flip-flopping the original favourite Dance Floor King despite support from 5/2 into 9/4. As you might have guessed by the original comment Dance Floor King won the race from Quite By Chance but neither result would have been good for the bookies.

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 gamblers who follow the money  got it right in the third, The Stephen Gardner 50th Novices’ Hurdle. Paul Nicholls’ It’s A Close Call proved to be very poorly named when landing a 7/4 into 5/4 punt by an easy 4 and a bit lengths. It was nasty for the ring including a backer tucking a bookmaker at the ‘wrong’ end of the line up to the tune of £1050-£600 early on.

And on the rails....

And on the rails….

After the first three races went to horses at the head of the market things were looking bleak for the books. ‘It’s not bad, but we desperately need a result’ was one layer no doubt speaking for them all’s summing up. His wish was the Gambling Gods’ command, well sort of. The chunky money on-course was for Taigan backed at 3/1 to a nice few quid including a £1500-£500. You have to feel for his backers and connections because the gelding did everything but win, running a tremendous race. Sadly for those that had it on, it had to settle for runner-up position behind Johnny Farrelly’s Sporting Boy, the winner returned 12/1 but had been as big as 16/1 so was probably not a skinner for anyone. It was OK for the layer looking for the result though, who piped up, ‘We just got one’.

Let’s hope that firm got their whack.

Only two saw serious money in the Mares’ Novice Chase, Pressies Girl (5/2) and Lily Waugh (3/1). The bookies never had a chance if they play the game traditionally because that’s the order they finished in. The winner provided Paul Nicholls and Sam Twiston-Davies with a popular double, when I say popular, with the punters not the books.

Richard Pittard (unusually vocal today) shouted across that ‘It’s not been a very interesting day’ just prior to the penultimate. With that comment in mind we can assume he didn’t lay the £2600 – £600 Chance Encounter in the race. If he had he’d have kept the money because Linda Blackford’s charge could only manage third, crushingly for the books behind yet another winning jolly Trickaway who had been 3/1 small before support into 9/4.

photo 4

The bookmakers appeared to have given up all hope of winning by the last, the www.racinguk.com/freetrial  JOIN NOW Handicap Hurdle. Mossy had found his own voice and let on that maybe his boss for the day wasn’t doing so well with declaring, ‘There’s no money in the hod to dip’ alluding to the making him roll his sleeves up remark before racing. There didn’t appear to be any lumpy action in the diminishing light, just steady. The course came to life with a rousing finish though, Positive Vibes just got the better of a battling finish with Flashy Star by a short head. The winner returned 5/1 after being 6/1, one book on the rails ran into a £1800 – £300 which probably ruined his day despite 7/4 jolly Rior beaten into 3rd.

I bumped into my old mate ‘Punting’ Pete on the way out, on asking him how he’d got on he said ‘Fornicatingly Awful’ (or words to that effect). He must have been in the minority of his ilk juding by the demeanor of the layers even after the last result. Still, most of them have Ascot and Exeter to look forward to, I’m sure they will get it back. Watch this space.

(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. 

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