Tales From The Betting Ring – Wincanton 04/12/14

It was Christmas Party Day at Wincanton and plenty of people turned up to join in the festivities, although it was more tweed than tinsel on display.  The 7-race card was well-supported with entries too making for a largely competitive looking afternoon. The opening race was a handicap chase with Sportsreport, Moonlight Maggie and Fuse Wire battling it out at the head of the market. They eventually went off at 7/2, 4/1 and 4/1 respectively. Anyone that rowed in with them rued that decision because Chance Encounter fairly ran away with the race at 10/1. I must admit to cheering the gelding home because its trainer Linda Blackford is a second cousin once removed based just outside my home town of Tiverton.

Service with a smile.

Service with a smile.

I rushed around to the parade ring to see the celebrations. While Linda was being interviewed by another local lad ‘Leglock’ Luke Harvey one of the joyous connections collared me and uttered those time-honoured words after one had just hosed in un-backed ‘If I’d seen you I’d have told you to back it’. Oh well I was over the moon for them all, they are a loyal bunch of owners supporting a very hard working trainer. It sums up what it means to people when they win at this level, the race was only worth £1634 but Linda’s last words to Luke were ‘We’ll party tonight’. I expect Luke liked the idea of that, I would probably get my invitation later on.

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/

Next ‘face’ I bumped into was ‘Armaloft’ Alex. He’d had a rather severe haircut. I thought his what was left of his  silver fox locks looked very smart, ‘You look like Max Headroom’ observed a less kind soul. For the benefit of younger readers, you’d best Google him. Armaloft doesn’t take things to heart so continued with  conversation he started before  rudely insulted. He has a days work at Exeter tomorrow with the bookie who says he lived on the roughest council estate in England when a nipper. That should make blog fodder.

photo 1

The second race was the New Racing UK Anywhere Available Now Mares’ Maiden Hurdle and featured Harry Fry’s Bitofapuzzle who was sent off at 2/13 and eventually won as it liked. That was despite commentator Ian Bartlett trying to make it exciting when the second-in got within challenging distance at the last. Nobody appeared to wade in with a wedge to earn some easy cash though, which was a shame, that always adds a bit of colour.

Polamco landed a quick double for Harry Fry in the Hague Print ‘National Hunt’ Novices’ Handicap Hurdle. It had looked a bit shaky in the betting drifting from 7/4 to 5/2 but still went off as jolly and won driven out. That augured well for my old boss Ivor Perry’s mare in the last, Ivor’s Queen who the family were ‘Very hopeful’ would win. After the stable’s double the 10/3 available before racing was no doubt near extinction. Harry Fry didn’t have a runner in the next, the Weatherbys VAT Services Silver Buck Handicap Chase. Alan King did, Ziga Boy, and it won, yet another favourite, this one 3/1. The afternoon was shaping up to be anything but festive for the bookies.

Twp local shrewds ready to strike.

Two local shrewds ready to strike.

It then went from bad to worst, Philip Hobbs’ Powerful Action was backed from 10/3 into 5/2 jolly before scrambling home the short head winner of the Weatherbys Bank Handicap Hurdle. Racegoers were treated to an thrilling finish but the ring was desperate for easy to back 10/1 shot Ronaldinho to win the race. One punter had an £1100-£400 the winner, another had a clever bet of £1400 – £400 each-way Rayvin Black. He got the value as his fancy finished at 11/4, but sadly only sixth so wasn’t that clever after all.

The rewards4racing.com Amateur Riders’ Handicap Chase (Jockey Club Grassroots Jumps Series Qualifier) saw a 11/2 into 7/2 market move for the Nick Williams trained Wayward Frolic ridden by his son Chester. Sadly for the gamblers he gamble never looked to be landed, they didn’t have to suffer too long though as the gelding pulled up after the fifth appearing to have had tack problems.  As the deflated jockey and gelding combination trotted back in front of the stands our old mate and stable connection Armaloft could be seen chasing the combo. He was sprinting at a velocity belying a man of his age and girth with the yard’s trademark coloured orange horse blanket in arms.  I assume he was helping out rather than backed it and was going to heckle Chester.  Quite By Chance, the 3/1 favourite won the race, the bookies must have given up at this point.

'Very Hopeful'

‘Very Hopeful’

For those that had they may have been tempted to jump on the Ivor’s Queen gamble. The 10/3 had long since gone and was down to 7/4f by the off. Those who backed the mare would have been alarmed at the way she was pulling almost from the start after having gone down well. That alarm would have turned to real confidence when she cruised up to leaders a furlong out after eventually being allowed her head to join the race. Then there was nothing, fighting her jockey for most of the race no doubt put paid to her chances and the gamble. She still managed third behind, Alan King’s Wishing And Hoping. The winner had been backed from 5/1 into 4/1 despite the support for Ivor’s mare so no good at all for the ring compounding a nasty afternoon for the layers.

Still, from a selfish point of view I’ve got Linda Blackford’s party to look forward to. I’m just waiting for the call, Linda? Linda? Linda………?

(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. Here’s one from the Racing Post on 03/12/14


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.


Available on Nook


Available on Kobo



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