Tales From The Betting Ring Exeter – The Higos Insurance Services Raceday 17/03/15

* Please note the the ‘missing’ Thursday Cheltenham Festival Tales will appear in the next issue of Racing Ahead.

Glorious sunshine up on Haldon Hill? It must really be spring. The bookies that had been at Cheltenham had various tales of woe or otherwise. Whatever their outcome they were obviously recovered and ready to take on the punters back on home turf. Simon James regaled me with a rather outlandish explanation of how he managed to turn his Cheltenham around. He has a lucky scarf, yes you read right, in 2015 he has a lucky scarf, donning it ensured he ended the festival in clover and not the kack as he had been. Proper job, good for him. I did wonder why he was pointing to it on his joint and not cocooned in it but didn’t really feel I’d humour him anymore by asking!


Higos Insurance sponsored every race on the card. The first was the Higos For Your Commercial Insurance Novices’ Selling Hurdle in which Quebec was sent off the 2/1 favourite. The punter that had a monkey (£500) at ‘top of the head’ (9/4) would never have had a second’s worry as the gelding won in a canter. The big excitement came in the auction after the race where it was bought in for an astonishing £31,000. That’s quite a tidy sum for a winner of a race valued at £1734 to the first placed horse.

(For a quick guide on ‘tic tac slang’ here I am a couple of years back with a brief explanation).

(and here’s part two)

The Higos Insurance Services Plymstock Handicap Hurdle was worth £2477 to the winner and that was Flying Light who returned 10/1 though had been bigger in the morning.   Rock Des Champs and Rafafie were sent off at 7/2 joint favourites but finished unplaced so one back for the bookies.

The market for the Higos Insurance Services Braunton Novices’ Handicap Chase was headed by Jay Are trained by Gary and ridden by Joshua Moore. One punter managed to strike a £550 – £500 but most had to settle for Evens. That price looked terrific value as for the second time today a short one ambled home giving the bookies no chance. To be fair there was a little bit of support for some others including All But Grey and Head Spin but the jolly was 30 lengths too good at the line so little to cheer about over the last.


Only four went to post for the Higos Insurance Services Novices’ Chase. Betting was quite lively though, with decent money for Gary Moore’s Leo Luna including a £1200-£400 and Alan King’s Even money favourite Carraig Mor. One retired ex-rails layer was seen dashing in for a monkey at 6/5 while one layer was busy chatting, too me, oops sorry, take you eye off the ball for one second. There was even money for the outsider Saint Breiz, the punter had a £4950-£150, that’s 33/1. That’s a really galling bet to hear about because had he just said £150 with the fractions he’d have been laid a £5000 – £150, that’s a free potential £50 for just knowing the game. If that confuses anyone please click here https://simonnottracing.wordpress.com/2013/05/04/value-seeking-on-course-punters-ask-for-fractions/

You'd better not tell punters about fractions, especially when I'm having my cake and eating it.

You’d better not tell punters about fractions, especially when I’m having my cake and eating it.

In the end it was all academic because Carraig Mor became the third easily winning jolly of the day. It may have been different if the easy to back 13/8 out to 2/1 second-in Dunraven Storm hadn’t fallen four out, but it did so the favourite won by over 40 lengths.

You’d have to hope that the sponsors don’t insure bookmakers against bad losing days. Why? Because Nigel Hawke’s Tiverton trained and Tom Scudamore ridden Midnight Request made it four market leaders from five sauntering home in the Higos Insurance Services Exeter Novices’ Handicap Chase after being backed from 9/4 into 2/1. There had been an attempted each-way touch on Neil Mulholland’s  Matrow’s Lady with some decent bets at 14/1 and 12/1 though could only manage sixth.

By the lucky last the poor bookmakers probably wished they could be back at Cheltenham last Tuesday, all but one favourite had won and they were seriously on the back foot. Add to the fact that they’d done their money in cold blood never looking like getting at least three of them beaten. Given the plethora of winning jollies it wasn’t a total shock when money started to pour in for the Honeyball yard’s Horace Hazel backed from 2/1 into 7/4. Monkeys and carpets were hard to dodge if you had 2/1 on display. There was some resistance though, David Pipe’s A Hairy Koala attracted some support including a bet of £2000 – £400 while Chris Down’s Aroseforoscar was backed from 5/1 into 3/1 which resulted in by far the best betting race of the day.


For much of the race the it was A Hairy Koala holding off the unwanted attentions of Horace Hazel. Tom Scudamore had worked so hard on the former but looked finally to have won the battle and thus the race. The bookies would have probably settled for that, the well-backed jolly beaten at least. Then from out of nowhere came Black Narcissus trained by David Pipe’s neighbour Alexandra Dunn and ridden by Conor O’Farrell to swoop past and spring a much-needed 25/1 result for the bookmakers, you had to feel for Scu the younger, his mount and backers.  It’s fair to say the bookies showed no such pity and cheered regardless.

As I was leaving I was approached by bookie Simon James, wrapped up in a bloody great scarf. ‘I only wore it for the last’ he beamed. I’ll reiterate that it’s 2015 and not the dark ages, if he mentions it again I’ll have some fun requesting he wears it on the hopefully sweltering days to come at The Derby, Royal Ascot, Glorious Goodwoood, Newton Abbot…….

(C) Simon Nott

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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. 

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