Tales From The Betting Ring – Wincanton 25/02/15

The fun started as soon as I got out of the car for today’s racing at Wincanton. Two much-loved characters from the Press Room we engaged in friendly banter, luckily for me within earshot. Ex-jockey, TV celebrity, racecourse MC and all-round Tiverton schoolboy made good ‘Leglock’ Luke Harvey was chatting to darling of the Racing Post, Westcountry scribe Andrew King. Luke mentioned to Andrew that someone who shall remain nameless was asking if Mr James King, jockey on Sunday’s Fontwell winner No Loose Change was really Andrew’s son. The smile on King senior’s face said it all, Luke added he’d confirmed that he was indeed and went on to say that the unnamed inquisitor had gone on to compliment what a stylish pilot King junior looked. As you can imagine Andrew’s smile got even bigger.  Of course it was too good to last, Harvey could hardly contain his own mirth as he piled in with the punchline. ‘He also said that it was amazing that the boy could be successful given he’s related to a **** like you!’

Now that could have gone one of two ways, Luke appeared to do a little duck just in case it was badly. Luckily for that rascal the dry-witted journalist has dished out enough insulting banter to others in the past to be able to take it in good humour and laughed almost as loudly as Luke. I scampered off to scribble this down on my yet to be obtained racecard just so I didn’t forget it.

Each way if you like.

Each way if you like.


Once inside the banter continued, this time it was with the bookies, sparse on number but made up for in quality. One who wished not to be named (is today’s blog brought to you by the word anonymous?) was bemoaning his hod being a carpet (£300) light after racing at a recent meeting. Now that’s quite a chunky dip by anyone’s standards. To make things worse the person in the frame for the perceived pilfering was none other than the bookie’s wife. One wag did point out that when the aforementioned glamorous ‘other half’ would be a great cover for the existing staff to help themselves. The existing staff, who also regarded anonymity favourable, didn’t looked too chuffed with that suggestion. To be fair he’s been with the firm in question, almost since their 1897 inception and would unlikely to help himself. The bookie did look pained at the thought of all that loot missing. I asked where his lady was today, to which he replied with some scorn, ‘Having some £600 hair extensions put in, but it’s OK she’s paying for them herself’.

Derek at the double.

Derek at the double.


Moving swiftly on.

Five went to post for the opener in which Rhythm Star went off the 4/7 favourite but the race was won by 7/2 shot Streets Of Promise. That looked a great result for the bookies but a quick ask around the ring revealed otherwise. Paul Gold betting under the Pickwick banner laid a punter £1500 – £500 each way. Given that the mare did hit 4/1 before returning 7/2 meant that it’s doubtful the canny layer came to too much harm by the cautious punter’s punt. ‘All the punters were on the winner’ said Jo on the Ivor Perry joint before adding ‘Nobody wanted to take the odds-on.’ Not so good then.

It didn’t get any better for the books in the second when Colin Tizzard’s  Murrayana proved great a value 2/1 market-leader. In winning it foiled a gamble on Billy Two Tongues backed from 6/1 into 4/1 including a bet of £3000 – £600, given the ease of the winner that is probably being a bit kind. The Tizzard team made that two winners in the very next race landing a double when the yard’s Flaming Charmer proved over three lengths too good for even money favourite Atlantic Roller. It soon transpired that some people had just had it spark off, these ranged from photographers to bookie’s daughters. The lucky ones got the message ‘about a minute before the off, no time to pass it on’ that the victorious gelding had been working on the track with Cue Card ‘and running all over it.’ How much of that is true is pure conjecture of course but people did get involved with monkeys at 4/1 and 7/2 so the info certainly worked for them.

Not as thin as it looked with punters lurking.

Not as thin as it looked with punters lurking.

Armaloft Alex came to say hello just before the fourth. He’d only had two small bets and they’d both lost. Given that it was a little disconcerting a few minutes later when Cappielow Park the 12/1 outsider of the six runners saw off 11/4 joint-jollies Spice Fair and Alto Des Mottes. This prompted a huge ‘Go on Adam (Wedge)’ and an ‘Ei Ei’ (weird way of saying Aye Aye I know but that’s how he spells it) from our hero. ‘I laid the front two’ he replied sheepishly before heading off to greet the winner. He wasn’t the only one either the ring kept a couple of £400 bets on Alto Des Mottes too as well as a five monkeys on last placed Revaader.

My bookie mates who study speed figures put up Don’t Call Me Oscar as nap material in the penultimate but others obviously disagreed. There were good bets flying around for several combatants in the six-strong field. These included a £1800-£600 Bach On Tow and £2000 – £280 and £2000 – £300 Sun Quest, that’s 7/1 and 13/2 with the fractions. If you don’t understand fractions, please see here https://simonnottracing.wordpress.com/2013/05/04/value-seeking-on-course-punters-ask-for-fractions/  Bach On Tow looked to be a danger two out but Dont Call Me Oscar got the money and returned 5/2 joint favourite, at least one firm on course won on the race.

Four lined up for the concluding Dick And Sue Woodhouse Memorial Open Hunters’ Chase (For The Dick Woodhouse Trophy) but the betting was still lively. Neverownup was the subject of a stick-on backed from 8/1 into 4/1 which allowed some punters to get on Big Fella Thanks at 11/10 before it was trimmed back to 5/6. Give the gamble horse its due, it did run a good race but was toyed with by the jolly which won with any amount in hand. A fact not lost on Luke Harvey  who he jested to nearby Armaloft Alex; ‘You could have won on that’. Given that Alex is probably 16 stone and 6′ 4″ that is some statement. Not totally wrong though as our hero did admit to ‘laying the gamble, which he could’t have and backing the winner’. In old bookmaking parley, that’s having what you took on a race all on the favourite, and the quickest way to the poorhouse.

But not today though!

Newbury next stop.

(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. 

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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