Tales From The Betting Ring – Newbury Christmas Raceday 17/12/14

It was great to be back on the turf after a week on ‘holiday’ and getting some music work done. The Newbury Christmas raceday boasted a 7-race card, plenty of runners and some bookies in splendid Christmas jumpers. The first layer I spotted resplendent in yuletide woolens was regular feature of this blog, Ian of the Jack Bevan (Est 1897) firm. He appears to enjoy the attention because I’m reliably informed he was wearing it at Cheltenham too not objecting to ladies giving his, it has to be said rather modest, carrot a squeeze.

It's snow joke to have a modest carrot nose.

It’s snow joke to have a modest carrot nose.

Ian was abjectly beaten into fourth in the pullover stakes when I spotted the Norman Barnes organization, with Derek, Helen and Alice all decked out festively. The Jack Bevan (Est 1897) firm had invited me to join them and other West Country laying luminaries at their Christmas party between the Cheltenhams last weekend. Sadly I wasn’t able to make it but was somewhat relieved when heard it descended into a ‘heated discussion’ into the merits of unorthodox betting odds and other inflammatory on-course activities, not that I’d want to spread any gossip of course.

Derek, Helen and Alice get the Tricast up in the jumper stakes.

Derek, Helen and Alice get the Tricast up in the jumper stakes.

With all the Christmas banter over the betting was surprisingly lively in the opening Blackmore Building Juvenile Hurdle despite the 12.10 start. There were a couple of monkey (£500) bets for Winner Massagot at around 3/1 plus decent bets for Blue Atlantic which was backed from 4/1 into 7/2 and Jalingo 4/1 into 5/2. One book on the rails laid a £10,000 – £100 each-way outsider Lacock which would have made him jump before being pulled up but it was the Dan Skleton trained Zarib that won the race at 7/1. Not a bad start for the ring, festively dressed or otherwise.

There didn’t appear to be the same level of voluminous bets in the CSP Novices’ Chase but it did turn up result number two in favour of the bookies. David Pipe’s Gevrey Chambertin was easy to back, drifting from 15/2 to 10/1 before being trimmed back into 9/1 but won nicely with the 3/1 jolly Kaki De La Pree back in second.

17 went to post for the Maiden Hurdle but there were only really two that the market gave a chance to. Beast Of Burden saw a flurry of support including several grand bets at evens before support again at 10/11 including on bet of £500 – £550 each way, yes that is cautious and maybe not mathematically viable but the punter got on, before going off at 5/6.  Communicator also attracted chunky support backed from an early 9/4 into 7/4. ‘I’ve got two for too much’ was one firm’s summing up the race as they sat off. You can imagine the roar from the ring when they got the result they had no doubt scribbled on their list to Santa, 20/1 Laser Hawk who was first, the rest nowhere. Well not exactly nowhere, Beast Of Burden finished 2nd rewarding the chiseling odds-on each-way backer, or rather he got some back.

Tatts they bet.

Tatts they bet.

The Powersolve Electronics Greatwood Charity Handicap Chase was the medium of a gamble Charlie Longsdon’s Greenlaw backed from 9/4 into 15/8f though wasn’t the only one well-backed in a hot betting heat. Major Milborne was clipped from 9/2 into 4/1 but did most of the books a favour by winning the race with the jolly only fourth of the five finishers.

The rails they bet.

The rails they bet.

By this point you’d imagine that the flamboyantly coiffured and  hotly tipped for regular Channel 4 Racing stardom AWOL from his rails pitch bookie Geoff Banks was wishing he’d left the mansion and made the trip to Newbury. If he wasn’t before he was after the Swegon Group UK Graduation Chase which was worth a couple of quid shy of £13,000 to the winner and attracted just four runners. There were noted bets for three of the quartet that took part with Easter Day going off at even money. Bob Buckler’s Tinker Time was the 10/1 outsider of four and made the layers Christmas by beating them all. That victory would have almost certainly sparked every betting shop bore in the country into telling all those now poorer punters that had backed the losers that they should know to always back the outsider of four. Or is that three? I forget now, but as much as the know-all’s tap their noses it is of course cobblers. Having said that, the winner had been 12/1 so someone somewhere was on. Maybe with Martyn Of Leicester who was absent but sent a team sporting the green light safety system. ‘We didn’t get much on it’ bemoaned Jim from said joint while silently nodding sidekick Tom looked sullenly into his computer screen.

Maybe Christmas jumpers are the answer? Possibly but I wasn't going to risk asking.

Maybe Christmas jumpers are the answer? Possibly but I wasn’t going to risk asking.

It seems he was the only one not all that chuffed, ‘The jumpers are lucky’ was Derek Barnes’ comment which alluded to their book, sans any safety system at all, looking a lot healthier. He was of course tempting fate though and we all know what generally happens when you do that. Value At Risk was very well backed into 11/8 and totally ran away with the penultimate and landed a double for the Skelton yard in the process.

It wasn’t just Geoff Banks on the missing list, our old mate Armaloft Alex was conspicuous by his absence too. That was a real shame, not just because he is a grand chap, which of course he is. The other reason, he tends to get to hear about the Nick Williams, (The Genius of George Nympton) runners. If he had been here maybe he’d have got to hear about Amour D’Or before it was backed from 13/2 into 9/2 in the concluding Kentford Racing Fillies’ ‘Junior’ Standard Open NH Flat Race and hacking up. Come to think of it though, if he’d stuck his arm up when it went clear at the furlong pole with his form it could well have ran out or something equally catastrophic. That would never do if the yard were after getting their Christmas money. If anyone from Culverhill Farm is reading this, you can release him from the barn now, after all it is Christmas!

(C) Simon Nott

Stuck for a last minute 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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