Tales From The Betting Ring – Thursday – The bet365 Hennessy Festival – Newbury

It’s fair to say that the first day of Hennessy festival didn’t look as competitive as it could have been. The crowd didn’t appear to be put off though but some of the Westcountry bookies appeared to have opted for Taunton. The feature of the opening  bet365 Novices’ Hurdle was that  AP McCoy was riding,  Jollyallan for Harry Fry and JP McManus. It looked a penalty kick for the champ and the odds reflected that. The books priced up at a very tentative, you’d think prohibitive 1/5, but were soon on the retreat. One punter crashed in with £1500 to win £300, then another waded in with an £1100 to win £200 and so it went on right down to the starting price of 1/8. Those punters who lumped it on for a quick profit never even had to break into sweat, Jollyallan and AP delivered the goods like the champ on a short should.

Most punters adopted a watching brief in the first, but for those that had it on it was money without work.

Most punters adopted a watching brief in the first, but for those that had it on it was money without work.

The second race, The Burges Salmon Amateur Riders’ Handicap Chase looked more competitive though only five horses went to post. Betting appeared quite light. That was probably just as well for the bookies when the 2/1f Woodford Country landed the spoils after having been available at 9/4 to value-seekers. It got worse for the books in the following bet365.com Novices’ Handicap Hurdle when David Pipe’s  Vazaro Delafayette got the treble up for jolly-backers having been backed from 2/1 into 7/4 before winning. That victory came despite the gelding looking a bit of a monkey but that was no consolation for the layers.

Evens each of two if it's burning bookies' fingers or burgers you can smell after the third.

Evens each of two if it’s burning bookies’ fingers or burgers you can smell after the third.

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/

Geoff Banks had been having a bit of a moan, he wasn’t over the moon with the fare on offer for him to do business on. He was no doubt just about to launch into another salvo when all in earshot were spared another aural battering when he was summoned over the public address system to move his car. This caused some mirth from his brethren on the rails. ‘He’s probably parked it in the director’s space’ chuckled one, ‘Or in the Winners’ Enclosure’ surmised another. What his misdemeanor actually was he didn’t let on but it appeared to have brought a bit of luck to the ring. Only three lined up for the bet365 Novices’ Steeple Chase. The punters came out of the bars and decided that Paul Nicholls’ Southfield Theatre was home and hosed piling on the pounds from 1/2 to 4/11. They got it wrong and left it behind though, Carraig Moor proved to be too good on the day. The outsider of the three My Silver Cloud plodded around in his own time and collected £3263 for his trouble.

Back in the game the books were keen to get stuck in to the fifth.

Back in the game the books were keen to get stuck in to the fifth.

The bet365 Novices’ Limited Handicap Steeple Chase sported eight runners and at last gave the betting ring and punters something to get to work on. The trouble was for the bookies it seemed everyone had heard about the same horse and all wanted to be on. Alan King’s Ned Stark was the buzzer, after an initial drift the gelding was lumped on, from 3/1 into 5/2 including a couple of two grand bets and plenty of monkeys and roufs including some trade sources. The confidence was justified much to the dismay of the bookies. It gave Geoff ‘Blog Gold’ Banks another chance to pipe up, this time to an on-course rep to whom he just bellowed ‘Thanks for the business’.

Word came from the Press Room that The Racing Post had been dishing out Christmas jumpers to the great and the good up there. Thinking that the doyens of the turf I had spotted earlier wouldn’t be seen dead in such items I nipped up to see if there were any going begging. My reasoning being that the majority in attendance were Gentlemen of the turf, dressed accordingly and would have discarded such garish items, even if free. I on the other hand have no qualms about donning slightly eccentric (OK tasteless if you will) items. How wrong I was, all those festive pullovers had been quickly snapped up and secured under desks of the most unlikely to sport them. It really should have been insisted on that they should have been worn on acceptance and paraded in the front of the rails.

Goodness knows those beleaguered bookies need cheering up. As it turned out the penultimate and listed bet365 Intermediate Handicap Hurdle was the liveliest betting heat of the day. A guy I’d never clapped eyes on before came up to me prior to the race and said ‘Astre De La Cour wins this’, I must have looked glum and in need of a tip, maybe I was still sulking about not getting a Racing Post Christmas jumper. It was nice to be told though the market didn’t appear to share his confidence as the gelding took a walk from 8/1 to 14/1. Maybe the tipster had backed his mouth with money because one firm did lay a £7000 – £500. In the meantime some real chunks went in on Le Mercurey backed from 7/1 into 5/1 including an eye-watering £21,000 – £3000. Violet Dancer was another supported, this time from 20/1 into 12/1. All the action on others in the race allowed market leader L’ami Serge to drift to 9/4, there had been a bit of money for it but Geoff Banks may not have been on his own when he used a phrase you never hear, ‘I want the favourite to win’. Well he got his wish, it did win, with some ease.

Newbury regulars Colin and Mike never miss.

Newbury regulars Colin and Mike never miss.

You had to feel for the bookies, and the bookie sponsors bet365 when only four turned out for the concluding bumper to top off a disastrous day already beyond salvage. Even more so when Yanworth became the sixth winning jolly of the day, this was made even worse as AP McCoy simply toyed with the opposition before coasting to victory. One punter secured a bet of £5000 – £4000, that must have been very slow torture indeed for the bookie that stood for it.

There’s on consolation for the betting ring, tomorrow can’t be any worse.

(C) Simon Nott

Stuck for a Christmas present?

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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