Tales From The Betting Ring – Newbury @Betfred Day @BetfredRacing 14/01/15



There’s no doubt that not a single one of the bookmakers who set out for Newbury today would have expected it to be a busy day. Not a single one of them would have been disappointed either but it didn’t mean that the gentlemen and ladies of the betting ring were in low spirits. It may have been the glorious winter sunshine or just the fact that they earn a living doing something they love but the layers were in good form, at least prior to racing.

First in the stalls for the banter stakes was Paul Gold who bets as Pickwick. He wanted a photograph with me. I was flattered but a little suspicious, quite rightly as it turned out. Here’s the photo and his twitter tag, if you are curious; @paul_gold_

Who's the (Grand) Daddy?!

Who’s the (Grand) Daddy?!

Second up was Andrew Williams of the GT Williams firm. It was great to see that long-serving, long-suffering and up until very recently estranged bag-man Mossy was back on the team. He looked very pleased to be with there too. He’s not been missing from the racecourse just from the firm for reasons best known to themselves. I told Mossy and Andrew it was good to see them reunited. With an evil twinkle Andrew then piped up, ‘It’s not all great news, did you hear that Wetherspoon’s shares have taken a dive?’ I hadn’t. He then went on to add, ‘They were so worried about him they put ‘Missing’ posters up all over Yeovil!’. I hadn’t heard that either. Of course both stories were (probably) fibs and I have no idea what they were alluding to, but Mossy seemed to find them funny, hence their inclusion here.

Mossy back on the firm and Andrew shunning the limelight.

Mossy back on the firm and Andrew shunning the limelight.

Word from my time-studying bookie mates in Tatts was that Norse Legend put in a spectacular figure last time out and should be banker material in the opening Betfred Supports Jack Berry House Juvenile Hurdle. That given and that they are superb judges it was strange to see that the gelding went on the serious drift. Rather than be put off by the uneasiness in the market a couple punters waded in at the top price of 11/4 before it hardened to 9/4. They left it behind though, early morning confidence in David Pipe’s charge Brook proved very sharp despite a drift from 5/4 to 13/8 on course, 10 lengths too good at the post.

The Betfred Goals Galore Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase didn’t attract runners galore, just the four, and another winning favourite in the aptly named 6/4 shot Top Gamble. There had been decent bets for Far West and Mountain King too but the jolly got the money. The third event was the Betfred January Sale Novices’ Hurdle, I’m not sure what they are selling but it was punters who appeared intent on buying, money (without work) that is,  backing the odds-on Sugar Baron into 4/6f. Those that did get stuck in got entertainment value for their investment because turning for home they would have been getting a little edgy as the jolly looked to be struggling to get on terms with the long-time leader Ar Mad. The books dared hope it would stay out in front but Barry Geraghty was just winding them and his mount up before imposing its authority with a facile 18l victory making it three in a row for favourite backers.

‘We are very short of clients’ was Tony Styles view of the business in Tattersalls before Smiles For Miles landed a double for the Pipe team in the Betfred Mobile Handicap Chase (For The Harwell Trophy). One rails punter availed himself of a £3000 – £600 the winner. ‘And £40 for the Mrs, I have to keep her happy’ he chirped. It wasn’t all bad for the ring though because Bob Tucker had been the one the majority of backers wanted to be on backed from 11/4 into 9/4f.

A lot colder than it looks.

A lot colder than it looks.

By the Betfred TV EBF Mares’ ‘National Hunt’ Novices’ Hurdle it was perishing in the ring. The bookies all stood their ground so business must have been acceptable was was hardly brisk enough to get them fired up. Of the eight runners the punters only wanted to be on three and they filled the first three places with 5/2 Rons Dream (not my lack of apostrophe punctuation ) 8-lengths too good at the post and no good for the books. The only saving grace, and it was hardly even that, was the 9/4 market-leader  Carnival Flag was back in third.

One racecourse regular who rarely misses a trick informed me that he’d just seen a well-connected lady punter have a ‘bottle’ on Colin Tizzard’s West Approach in the concluding Betfred Treble Odds On Lucky 15’s Standard Open NH Flat Race. I asked if he was going to follow her in, he replied ‘Nah, it’s a bumper, I never get them right’. Well at least he’s consistent, he didn’t get it right this time either as the 11/4 shot was a neck in front at the line from 25/1 result for the ring King Kayf second with 6/5 shot Might Bite back in third. The runner-up might have got the ring ‘out’ but the winner certainly didn’t, packing up in icy winds with burnt fingers is never nice.

As I was leaving the course I saw David Pipe and sidekick Chester Barnes waiting to meet their tailed off runner Chic Theatre. I haven’t seen Chester Barnes for a while, he used to be a regular face in the betting ring. I followed him into a toilet once, all in the cause of duty you understand….

(c) Simon Nott

The ‘Chester Barnes story and lots more can be read in my award nominated but sadly unplaced book Skint Mob, Tales From The Betting Ring. Here’s a review from the Racing Post.



                          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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