Tales From The Betting Ring – First April Raceday Exeter 14/04/15 #Bettingtales

It was excellent to back at the races after a short break to compensate myself for getting to an age that’s one foot in the grave, the ‘bullseye’ has been reached. Still, I don’t feel bad on it and I doubt anyone could have felt bad whatever their age up on a glorious Haldon Hill. The bookmakers appeared to be in good spirits too and ready to get stuck in.

The opening race, the Racing UK Profits Returned To Racing Novices’ Hurdle only featured four runners and looked to be between the two market leaders Paul Nicholls’ 4/9 favourite She’s Da One and Dan Skelton’s 2/1 shot Workbench. Some bookmakers on course will accept an each way bet in a four horse race (come racing). That said I doubt the bookie that laid £678-£300 each way the ‘second-in’ expected it. The punter’s no doubt a very careful person and leaves little to chance. The bookmakers on the other hand had the ideal opportunity to largely act as stake holders for those backing the short ones for little if no risk, hoping for a ‘result’ for the jackpot.

Those that played that way had their dreams come true when 25/1 Ocean Venture sprang a surprise that had the ring cheering to a man. Well you’d be excused for thinking that way, but it seems that some layers managed to lose on the race. One in particular really did tempt fate when laying the winner announcing to all in earshot that if it won he’d do something I can’t repeat in a family blog. He did put his money where his mouth was as far as keeping the horse a loser but unless he’s walking funny at Cheltenham tomorrow maybe not the unmentionable. I dread to think how the ‘clever punter’ who did his money on the each-way felt, not great I’d wager.

Don't look at me....

Don’t look at me….

There was an incident after the race which deserves mentioning. One lady’s winning ticket blew away as she tried to retrieve it from her racecard. She didn’t see which way it went so went in search of the Betting Ring Manager. In the meantime a group of excited lads approached a bookmaker with a winning ticket, hers. The bookmaker remembered the bet and the lady so had already called the Betting Ring Manager (BRM) himself. Once again BRM proved his worth when it came to fair play being done. The lads were given a friendly but stern ticking off and the lady that backed the winner got her rightful winnings. Regardless of what people say about bookmakers, it’s the generally punters that get protected from each other not the bookies when the BRM gets involved. It’s also worth remembering that betting tickets are like cash and it was lucky she lost hers on a Tuesday at Exeter and not anywhere on a Saturday.

At last Charlton can just wear his shirt without freezing to death.

At last Charlton can just wear his shirt without freezing to death.

There was some friendly banter between a racecourse regular and veteran SP Validator Terry Allen between races. Terry quite cruelly suggested that young Phil was getting slightly portly and reminded him a bit like Elvis and maybe he could sing ‘Suspicious Minds’ at his local pub Karaoke. Quick as a flash Phil was back asking when Terry’s annual retirement was this year. For those that don’t know Terry ‘retired’ with some fanfare including a piece in the Racing Post and a hefty collection from his Press Room colleagues only for him to reappear shortly after on a part time basis. The Racing Post’s Andrew King is still after his ‘tenner’ back, though those present at the collection suggest his donation was a couple of coins of dubious denomination at the most.

Only four went to post for the second, the Racing UK Anywhere Handicap Hurdle and Peter Bowen’s 5/6 Sandynow won the race, one punter had an even monkey though lumps were few and far between.

Eight started for the Bathwick Tyres Marathon Handicap Chase which was a much more competitive betting heat. Adrenalin Flight was sent off 10/3 jolly but could only manage second behind Philip Hobbs’ winner Thomas Wild, it had been backed from 11/2 into 9/2 so not a lot of good for the bookies either.

Not only does he apparently look like someone called  Val Doonican but he can also sing like him.

Not only does he apparently look like someone called Val Doonican but he can also sing like him.

The BRM was back in action prior to the fourth, the Bet With Your Racing UK App Handicap Hurdle when a punter asked a bookmaker for £80 the jolly. He got his bet then came back horrified that his money had not gone on the 11/8 ‘Jolly’ Vodka ‘n Tonic but 7/1 shot Jolly Roger. Easy mistake to make but luckily it was noticed and sorted out before the race. When betting on course it’s important to always check your tickets, especially when there could be some ambiguity as in this case. Luckily for this punter and not the bookies the ‘jolly’ scrambled home a short head from 11/4 second-n Classical Art. There had been a shrewd word from a couple of lively sources for Mount Vesuvius, that clever money was on each-way at 12/1. The gelding looked to be going well enough without actually being able to get into the race and may well be one for the notebook after finishing fourth.

The race before the penultimate, the Dartmouth Term Of 65 Handicap Chase was the third four-runner event on the card and went to Robert Walford’s Tom Nearly who won easily having been backed from 7/4 into 5/4. There had been early money for Worthy Award at 5/2 including a £1500 – £600 but that money looked lost a long way out.

The penultimate Ladies Day 5th May Novices’ Hunters’ Chase boasted the biggest field of the day with 14 going to post. Indiana Bay was the fairly hot but fairly easy to back 7/4 favourite. The bookmaker who ought to be walking funny tomorrow after his boast when losing on the 25/1 shot in the first evidently thought he’d go with his skill and judgement again. He opted to bet without the short one. Sometimes you just sort of know it’s not someone’s day and wonder why they tempt fate. There was plenty of interest in Third Chance in the race too. The gelding is trained by racecourse regular Phil who was goaded about his Elvis-like girth’s girlfriend. Phil’s bookmaking father has a share in it too so was a real family affair and I’m told the beast was fancied and backed accordingly at around the 10/1 mark (9/1 at the off).

Matthew Hampton and 50/1 winner Blinding Lights led back to a Tiverton roar.

Matthew Hampton and 50/1 winner Blinding Lights led back to a Tiverton roar.

Indiana Bay unseated its rider at the 10th which had a certain bookmaker looking double crest-fallen. Meanwhile back at the business end of the race Third Chance was going very well indeed up with the leaders and then led after the 14th. Things looked to be going even better for his backers when approaching the last three lengths up. There was a wincing moment when it clobbered the fence but did look to still have the race won. Then from out of seemingly nowhere came  Blinding Lights who broke a whole lot of hearts by getting up to win in the last stride to spring a 50/1 surprise. Not a surprise to all though, there was a huge cheer when the winner was announced after a photo, number four by a short head. It seemed that Tiverton trainer Mary Sanderson had brought a fan club with her who had all had faith enough to back the winner. ‘I’ve laid it all over the place’ bemoaned one bookie who showed me a sting of small bets that added up for a nice few quid.

The connections of the unlucky runner-up showed exemplary sportsmanship. The aforementioned Phil is a good mate of winning jockey Matthew Hampton, despite his obvious disappointment of having the win cruelly snatched from his lips he called up ‘Typical, one time I don’t want you to win’. All this with a smile. Master of ceremonies ‘Leglock’ Luke Harvey said that the winner had got the biggest cheer of the day, and so it had, very unusual for a 50/1 shot. Well deserved, Mary is one the hardest working local trainers and the win was cheered by this blog too, despite being unbacked.

There were a couple of bookmakers that decided to leg it after the result, take the money and run, after paying all their winning punters of course. They got it right, Tom Scudamore had just the one ride, David Pipe’s Sadler’s Gold in the five-runner last, the Happy Birthday Fred White 70 Today Maiden Hurdle. The punters took the hint and backed the combination from 8/11 to 8/15 and had hardly a moment’s worry as it won with some considerable ease. That result finished a mixed day for the bookies on a bad note.

Not to worry the whole travelling circus heads up the M5 to Cheltenham tomorrow where once again hope will spring eternal.

It’s work Jim, just not as we know it!

(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. 

Skint Mob! Tales From The Betting Ring. OUT NOW

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