Tales From The Betting Ring – Exeter 19/01/15 #Bettingtales

Exeter’s meeting went ahead after surviving three inspections so hats off to them for their perseverance. Most people arriving at the track had to leave home well before any decision had been made. Hence spirits were high in the betting ring when the found out their journeys hadn’t been wasted. To be honest with Haldon bathed in glorious winter sunshine it was hard to believe that the meeting ever hung in the balance.

When spirits are high the bookies generally have a story or two. Simon James had a cracker. He bounded over to tell me about his yesterday at Black Forest Lodge Point to Point. Just a Wellington Boot’s throw from today’s action. He had set up in the field and then had problems unknown with his computer. He had a go at it himself but to not avail. He was in such a pickle that the first event came and went with not a bet struck on his eponymous pitch. Usually the racecourse bookies can call up a member of whatever technical support is provided by his system supplier. Sadly for computer-inept folk like Simon that service is not available at a point.

Missing the first race didn’t turn out to be such a bad thing as the jolly won the race. Then Si had a brainwave, he’d call fellow bookie’s son Phil Smale who works for RDT and ask his advice. So he did. Nothing weird about that I expect you are thinking. Except that Phil was in Australia. When you are trying to get to work the expense of long distance phone calls on mobile phones to mobile phones on the other side of the world are no object, at least to our hero. It seems that Phil, languishing in Melbourne, was initially a little surprised to get a cry for help from a muddy field in Devon. But shock over he managed to talk the technically challenged bookie through his problem in time to bet on the next race. A race which the Simon James Organisation copped over a monkey, that’s £500, Aye Aye.

Simon James is very grateful to his antipodean-dwelling mate, er £100, not THAT grateful....

Simon James is very grateful to his antipodean-dwelling mate, er £100, not THAT grateful….

Si was well-chuffed to relate his story of trans-global cooperation. I told him that I was suitably impressed and suggested that Phil would no doubt be in for at least £100 for his troubles and went on my way. Shortly afterwards I was tapped on the back by a troubled himself looking Simon James who spluttered, ‘He’ll get a nice drink for helping me’. In other words Phil, not a oner, but I did try, fair dinkum.

The betting on the first race, the  Cheltenham Preview Evening 3rd March Maiden Hurdle (Div 1) centred around 8/11 favourite Qualando and David Pipe’s Herbert Park which was sent off at 2/1. The front two battled it out before Qualando went two lengths clear towards the last and a comfortable victory. Well that’s how it looked but the Pipe gelding had other ideas and found a second wind enabling it to come again at the jolly and get up to win by a short-head.

The second division of the first race was the subject of a tweet by racecourse bookie ‘Q’ Comber. I have included it below.

Qtweer (2)

Trainer Linda Blackford is a second cousin once removed of mine so I took the tweet up with the man himself. Give him his due he stuck to his guns and said he thought that Linda’s Mountain Of Mourne would be value to lay given the top flight trainers with horses in the race. With that he stuck he chest out and went 4/1. One of those other trainers was Philip Hobbs who saddled Risk A Fine which was backed from 9/4 into 7/4 favourite including a bet of £900-£400. That money was spot on as the rest of the field didn’t see which way it went winning easily by 12 lengths. The runner-up back in second was Mountain Of Mourne who was a further 12 lengths in front of its nearest pursuer. I got word that there had been a £2000 – £500 struck, was it with Q? No, he hadn’t been offered the bet and grudging conceded he’d maybe underestimated Linda’s charge. Maybe the jolly winning was justice for the jibe? I’d like to think so.

'Q' Comber stands by his tweet.

‘Q’ Comber stands by his tweet.

All the fences in the back straight were omitted in The Devon Novices’ Handicap Chase. A race in which Winged Crusader was the subject of a mini-gamble from 3/1 into 5/2 in £300 and £400 lumps all around the ring. That money stayed with the bookies when the gelding was pulled up four out. The race went to Buckhorn Tom which had been backed from 5/1 into 4/1. Hopefully some of the Buckhorn Racing Team owners were on. ‘Leglock’ Luke Harvey managed to tease a little info from the victorious group. Buckhorn is a village hence the moniker. I hadn’t noticed but Luke pointed out that the winner’s full brother was running in the last. Was it fancied? They wouldn’t be drawn

The fourth heat, the Super Sunday 8th February Mares’ Handicap Hurdle was a competitive race but saw a 9/4 into 15/8 market move for the Genius of George Nympton, Nick William’s Queen Of The Stage ridden by Lizzie Kelly. The bookies kept that money too when 20/1 Jackies Solitaire beat the jolly into second. The ring were fortunate though because it looked as if 6/1 shot Pitter Patter was sure to win the race before falling at the last.

Charlie Brown puts a brave face on considering dipping the hod to buy a coat from 'The Farmers' Friend'.

Charlie Brown puts a brave face on considering dipping the hod to buy a coat from ‘The Farmers’ Friend’.


The race before the penultimate, the South West Racing Club Handicap Chase only saw four runners but it was eventful. Not least in the ring, at one point one bookmaker who shall remain nameless priced the race 21/10 31/10 41/10 21/10 thus at that point just topping his bookie brethren. While he was probably being clever he got it wrong because ‘they’ one again latched onto Nick Williams and Lizzie Kelly backing the combo’s  Ulis De Vassy into 11/4. As the combatants were heading out onto the course Lizzie was unshipped. Her mount then went haring along the running rail before ducking and disappearing into Haldon’s woodland. The gelding was chased into said cover by various brave folk It was eventually captured and returned to its rider. It was seemingly none to the worse for its adventures so ridden to the start to compete in the race. Sadly for connections and backers there was no fairy tale ending, 5/2 co-favourite of three Marie Des Anges won the race with some ease.

The Haldon Handicap Hurdle looked to be the trickiest on the card to solve but saw a right old stick-on landed when Chris Down’s Aroseforoscar bolted up. The winner had been backed from 20/1 into 15/2 and was clear, the rest nowhere from two out eventually winning with 14 lengths to spare at the post. There had also been a few quid about for  Mystic Appeal 18/1 into 12/1 but that finished out of the frame in 5th.

The lucky last, the Come Racing On 20th February Maiden Hurdle proved to be the icing on the cake on what had been a memorable meeting. Buckhorn Timothy landed an ultra-rare full-brother double for its connections, and a not so rare one for trainer Colin Tizzard. The Buckhorn Racing Team looked suitably delighted as they struggled to all mount the winners’ rostrum. Half brother to Best Mate, the Harry Fry trained Nitrogen had been the much-tipped favourite prior to the race but proved weak in the live market drifting to 2/1 from 6/4 before finishing 4th.

Were the bookies glad the meeting had survived? Yes was general consensus from the ring as they packed up in the twilight. Q Comber’s smile hinted that they had done rather well. The rascals.

(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.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: