Tales From The Betting Ring – Wincanton Bathwick Tyres Raceday 03/01/15

Given that the weather forecast for the afternoon had been atrocious and the Christmas and New Year holidays have just fizzled out, the crowd wasn’t that bad. It had looked exceptionally quiet but soon transpired that people were there in fair numbers, just doing the sensible thing and keeping warm under cover.

Warmth and shelter was a luxury the bookmakers couldn’t enjoy though. The rain was teeming down when betting got underway for the opening  Bathwick Tyres Bridgwater Novices’ Hurdle. Although all the bookies were getting battered by the weather you had to feel sorry for one in particular. Olivia was betting on the end of the rail in the third of her dad Andy’s trio of Festival Racings’ pitches. She was wrapped up well for the weather but had no umbrella. ‘Dad didn’t bring it’ was her cheery if rather damp admission. She then pointed to a plastic cover over the bets printer and added, ‘It’s OK though he brought this!’ With that she carried on cheerily taking bets, tough breed these racecourse bookies.

Olivia of Festival Racing braves the elements sans brolly in the opener.

Olivia of Festival Racing braves the elements sans brolly in the opener.

Another who usually falls into that tough category was feeling a little hurt, my mate Pete ‘the punter’ who is pictured in ‘Skint Mob’. He had been chatting to jovial Jo from the Ivor Perry joint, when the bookie asked Pete what his fancy for the day was. Apparently quite chuffed to be asked by an already knowledgeable layer for his opinion he imparted the name of his fancy.  Any cheer he may have felt at that point was obliterated when the cheeky layer thanked him and said he was looking for a short one to get stuck into. The rascal. Pete was so miffed he wouldn’t even tell me the name of the horse that got the ‘one to get stuck into’ response.  Here’s hoping it was the Harry Fry trained Fletchers Flyer in the first as it was backed from 11/8 into 11/10 and scooted home.

He was being cheery and festive in that hat, honest.

He was being cheery and festive in that hat, honest.

There was still a little bit of festive cheer to be had in the ring, even after a well-backed first favourite. George Edwards’ rep was wearing a very fetching, what looked like, Christmas pudding hat. It’s fair to say he didn’t look too happy in it. Up at the end of the line GT Williams were tempting punters in with a tin of by now rather soggy looking Cadbury’s Roses, probably not to be outdone by Alan Bushell’s monster-sized bag of Wine Gums. Olivia was happier too because the rain had stopped. The second race was the Bathwick Tyres Dorchester Novices’ Handicap Chase in which the punters sent Head Spin off the 2/1 jolly. Those backers got it wrong, but not all because Bang On Time won the race punted from 10/3 into 11/4. One firm laid a £1595 – £580 which is an odd amount. That mystery could well have been solved listening to ‘Leglock’ Luke Harvey who sounded as if he was struggling to get all the The Taunton Racecourse Owners Club connections of the winner into the enclosure. Maybe they’d all chipped in with a couple of quid for a bet and had it all on in one lump, let’s hope so.

Can anyone stomach another Quality Street?

Can anyone stomach another Cadbury’s Roses?

Things really began to swing the way of the betting ring in the third event, The Bathwick Tyres Yeovil Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase, though not before at least of their umbrellas got airborne. Luckily it landed on the Members’ lawn and not a hapless punter though a couple of wags did mention calling Claims Direct lightheartedly feigning injury. The big three in the betting were Arthur’s Oak (3/1) Atlantic Roller (11/4) and Viva Steve (5/2) but they were all turned over to the benefit of the bookies when 10/1 Somchine won the race for the Seamus Mullins yard from 8/1 poke Call Me Vic.

Tattersalls they bet.

Tattersalls they bet.

The race before the penultimate, the Bathwick Tyres Poole Handicap Hurdle, proved to be the biggest betting race of the day. Off course money came flooding into the ring for Paul Nicholls’ Earthmoves forcing his price from 6/4 into 11/10f at the off, though it did take a nice few bets. Those books that took the lumps got rewarded for their mettle when Harry Fry’s Blue Buttons won the race at 5/1 with 8/1 Cadoudoff in second the jolly only third. Up until recently Paul Nicholls used to be the standing punting dish at Wincanton, but today it was sizzling Harry Fry. The bookies were over moon but not as ecstatic as a couple of racecourse regulars who had bagged the double. ‘If I was a woman I’d have Harry Fry’s babies’ was one of their numbers’ slightly over the top winning squeal,

I expect Harry Fry would have been pleased to be at Sandown had he overheard.

Not everyone was happy, even when winning. Despite there being only six races Richard of the Tim Watson firm decided to leg it after getting the short one beaten. His sidekick Steve wasn’t impressed; ‘Mr Grumpy of 2015′ (bit early for that title?) has decided he doesn’t want to work in the rain’ he spat, as he helped pack the joint up (in the rain). Maybe Richard should have taken a leaf out of Olivia’s book still tapping away, sans mush, at the end of the rail.

Mr Grumpy 2015 (but which one is he?)

Mr Grumpy 2015 (but which one is he?)

Mr Grumpy got it a little bit wrong leaving before the penultimate Bathwick Tyres Handicap Chase. The money was for the Paul Nicholls’ pair Black River sent of 15/8f and Rebel Rebellion 5/1 into 4/1 including an £1800- £400 but it was Philip Hobbs’ Filbert that won the race. In fairness it was hardly unfancied at 7/2 but was another jolly beaten.

Bathed in the glow of the Green Light Safety System Martyn spies a result.

Bathed in the glow of the Green Light Safety System Martyn spies a result.

It was decidedly damp by the time the Bathwick Tyres Salisbury Novices’ Handicap Hurdle got underway. Even Olivia had being given the race off and had packed up, hopefully Dad will pack the brolly next time. The books that remained got the icing on the cake when 8/1 Miss Sassypants beat Nicholls and Hobbs pair Celestino (5/2) and Avel Vor (13/8f) into the minor placings. The winner landed a double for the Seamus Mullins on the card and made a lot of bookies very happy. I didn’t hear any say they’d have his babies, but I’m sure they’d shake his hand!

(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. Here’s one from the Racing Post on 03/12/14 and Independent On Sunday 21/12/14

Independent On Sunday 21 December 2014



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





2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by David Carr on January 3, 2015 at 9:59 pm

    Good stuff Simon, not great weather at Sandown either


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