Tales From The Betting Ring – Kempton @WillHillRacing Lanzarote Hurdle

William Hill were the sponsors for the opening race and indeed the whole meeting. Sadly for the bookies at Kempton there didn’t seem to be a lot of action in the betting ring for the William Hill – In The App Store Juvenile Hurdle at least judging by the layers’ groans and long faces. The rail did boast a strong contingent of books who’d happily take a lump but there wasn’t a lump to be seen. So without a lot in the hods the result wouldn’t have made a lot of difference to the layers though getting any jolly beaten is always welcome. The winner, Officer Drivel had been backed from around 8/1 into 11/2 but not to significant sums. It didn’t seem to have done much damage on-course so probably lucky there hadn’t been any big-staking connected punters wading in.

Geoff Banks was feigning slumber on his pitch when his colleagues got to work on the second, the William Hill – Download The App Handicap Chase. Only five went to post and the vast majority of the chunky money was for Cocktails At Dawn supported from 11/8 into 11/10 with several hefty wagers. Cold March was also backed to some decent money. Once the race got underway it soon appeared that the weight of money resting on the jolly encumbered it, soon dropping away after some jumping errors. This left the race at the mercy of Cold March who went clear two out. What followed must have been like Chinese water torture for his backers as slowly but surely its stride began to shorten as both Lost Legend and Key To The West challenged on both flanks. The former got there in the last stride to get up for a 12/1 victory on the line and provide the ring with the result they were after.

Fairly quiet on the rails.

Fairly quiet on the rails.

The layers didn’t bask in glory for long, Kingscourt Native was smashed in the ring from early 6/4 into Evens to bundles of three and four-figure bets in the William Hill – Bet & Watch Novices’ Hurdle before winning by nine lengths leaving the bookies with badly blistered if not yet burned fingers. At least they knew money was there to be taken but not so great that a good percentage of it was their own.

Only three went to post for the  williamhill.com Chase (Listed) but there was one less bookmaker in Tattersalls to bet on it. A veteran front-row layer had already upped sticks and gone home. ‘It’s terrible business’ was Tony of the Bob Stock organisation’s summing up but he was standing his ground. He was betting just up from the now abandoned pitch so you could understand the early bath. Those that held the line were soon under attack again, Balder Success was the one ‘they’ wanted to be on and that support proved inspired despite the books standing up to the weight of money. There were several four-figure bets on the rails. At least those firms had a chance of winning said sums, for those in lesser pitches chance of even being offered a lump of readies would be a fine thing. Once again, that lack of business pain was tempered by watching another jolly saunter home for its share of the bookie’s sponsor money, if you can’t take it you can’t lose it.

Plenty of shopping around choices for the punters.

Plenty of shopping around choices for the punters.

The fifth and feature race of the day the  William Hill Lanzarote Hurdle (Listed Handicap) boasted 13 runners and a competitive market which saw the punters getting stuck in, to modest stakes. Geoff Banks came sauntering up to say he may have to sell his car should Shotavodka win, he’d laid a £10,000 – £400 which I’d image was sticking out somewhat in his book. There was a move for Warrantor backed from 6/1 into 9/2 and also good support for Lizzie Kelly’s mount Tea For Two also at 9/2. The gelding’s owned by her mother Mrs Jane Williams & Len Jakeman, trained by The Genius Of George Nympton Nick Williams. Stable confident Armaloft Alex was cautiously optimistic and my mate Andy Mount had also tipped it up in his GG.com column. Things augured well but I doubt either of them expected the gelding to win quite so easily as it did. I tried to keep near Armaloft to ensure his unlucky arm stayed down but when I turned to check he wasn’t prematurely celebrating he was already sprinting down the running rail almost at the pace of the winner, both arms aloft.  I’d imagine there will be celebrations in George Nympton tonight and sore heads at the Wadebridge point to point tomorrow. Of course the result was another terrible one for the ring but at least Banko didn’t have to flog his motor.

The penultimate, the  William Hill – Bet On The Move Handicap Chase once again saw competitive betting. Open Hearted went off the 7/2 jolly but could only managed a distant third behind 6/1 shot Ardkilly Witness and 9/2 second-in Masters Hill who battled it out for a thrilling finish the former getting the nod by a short head. The books may have gotten the favourite beaten but there wasn’t a lot to shout about judging by the sullen faces on the rails.

The lucky last was the  William Hill – Download The App Handicap Hurdle and had tight  betting at around 4/1 the field the 8-runners. Sadly for the layers the race went to Sleepy Haven one of the 4/1 joint favourites compounding what had been a pretty miserable day for them. But hey, have you seen Geoff Banks’ car(s)? Don’t feel too sorry for him.

(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 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


And one from the Racing Post just before Christmas.




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