Tales From The Betting Ring – Second April Raceday – Exeter 21/04/15

Exeter was bathed in glorious sunshine for their second April raceday. That was great for the hordes of racegoers that made the trip up to Haldon Hill but not so great for the card. The lack of runners wasn’t down to lack of effort by the racecourse who had water bowsers on a continuous duty, one watering while the other refilled. They also moved rails to try and provide the best going the weather would allow. All that effort given sadly still three of the seven races were matches. You may think that means an easy day’s pay for the race day commentator but if that’s you think again. When I arrived at the course nice and early the incumbent for that role today Richard Hoiles was busy doing his homework.  Not cramming up on colours, though of course he’d be doing that as well, but his research for ‘filler’. If you have to keep people informed and more importantly interested for three two-horses races you need something to talk about other than that one is in front of the other. With this in mind he was earnestly looking up facts and figures for our education and listening pleasure, ever the professional.

Mossy's effort to colour coordinate his sweater with the sky wasn't a bad effort.

Mossy’s effort to colour coordinate his sweater with the sky wasn’t a bad attempt, Primark – amazing.

Meanwhile there was another racecourse regular who was not looking quite so diligent, I shan’t describe him more in case I drop him in it. What I can relate is that our hero had stayed down in the Westcountry after working at Newton Abbot. Post racing he’d been shown the joys of said town by the locals and is reported to have ended the night suitably refreshed. As often happens with men of a certain age, he needed to get up in the night to relieve himself. What doesn’t so often happen is that the hotel room door is mistaken for the bathroom, the door clicks shut and a semi-conscious racecourse regular is left locked out of his room in nothing but a grubby pair of boxer shorts, a face of rouge and a full bladder. He didn’t say how his plight was solved but safe to say it was, he was still sporting a face of rouge in addition to what appeared to be a thumping hangover. Poor chap.

Not the 'racecourse regular' in question but a very respectable and well-hatted bookmaker.

Not the ‘racecourse regular’ in question but a very respectable and well-hatted bookmaker.

Back to the racing, the first event was the Exeter Interactive Handicap Hurdle which boasted four runners. I had overheard one bookmaker telling the people in the badge box that he might not even bet, that idea was soon history as soon as the size of the crowd became apparent. Business was brisk, but sadly for the layers if was the 3/1 jolly Remind Me Later that won a race that the bookies could have done with a good start in.

Exeter they bet..

Exeter they bet..

Between the ‘first two’ SP validator Terry Allen was regaling us of stories of his star-studded past. Who would guess that the mild-mannered fellow had once appeared on 60’s TV show ‘Ready Steady Go’. Well he had and can be nailed down to being on February 14th 1964. Not only that he’d shared a dressing room with The Kinks and upset Dusty Springfield with a giant hand. No not what you are thinking, he put it over her shoulder when she was having a photo taken. If that was a revelation there was one for the bookies too when 4/1 shot Horsted Valley beat the 7/4 favourite in the 100% RacingUK Profits Returned To Racing Handicap Hurdle. OK it was hardly a huge shock but a welcome result on another race where business had been brisk.

There were also actual queues of punters to get on the in the four-runner Watch Racing UK Anywhere Handicap Chase which followed. It went to all the way leader 5/2 shot Kyles Faith. Most of the business was reported small from largely novice punters but one book did take a carpet at 7/4 the jolly Rusty Nail which finished, but tailed off.

Oh sorry, Terry’s part in ‘Ready Steady Go’? Miming as a quartet to Allan Sherman’s novelty hit “Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh”! I shall be searching the net for footage.

Two non-runners mean that the fourth heat, the Bet With Your Racing UK App Novices’ Hurdle was the first match of the day. Lemony Bay kept the rock n roll theme alive, owned by Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters. It was favourite to win having been backed at 4/9 (£400-£900) but returned 1/2 (£500-£1000). Despite only two going to post the race was an exciting one with both geldings looking odds on in running at some point but David Pipe’s 13/8 shot Sir Frank Morgan was 2 1/2 lengths too good at the judge. The Tote return for the 13/8 second favourite was a miserly £1.70, I expect the Racing Post are holding the front page for an expose and punters’ champion bookies are heading for their blogging pages as I type both suitably outraged!

The second match of the day, the Molson Coors ‘National Hunt’ Mares’ Maiden Hurdle, looked the most lopsided of the day with Nicky Henderson’s Taylor the 1-20 favourite to win the race. And so she did, easily as expected, one punter was so convinced he had £100 – £1600 so was rewarded with £100 that was like finding on the floor. The Tote redeemed itself somewhat by paying £1.10 the winner, hold that tirade.

What was that? Ice cream for all?

What was that? Ice cream for all?

There was another match not in the racecard prior to the penultimate Ladies Night 5th May Maiden Open NH Flat Race. Sadly is was not a welcome one, fisticuffs had no place at the races though luckily it seemed like was over before it started. With four runners contesting the race the books were once again able to accommodate an enthusiastic crowd he were keen to have a bet. Not so good for them was that the only one they really wanted to be on was Philip Hobbs’ Kayf Willow who was supported from 7/4 into 5/4 before winning half the track, OK six lengths.

No need to push you are all on.

No need to push you are all on.

The lucky last Bathwick Tyres Handicap Chase was also the final match which was run for a total prize fund of  £10,000. Tom Neary was sent off 2/5 in favour of Milgen Bay available at 15/8. The market got it wrong again when Oliver Sherwood’s gelding proved over four lengths too good at the post. Special mention has to go to the bookies who did their very best to provide interesting markets for the punters, offering forecasts and distance bets in addition to straight betting. Also Richard Hoiles who made tremendous use of his homework during the matches with no need to resort to the ‘helpful’ additional ‘filler’ offered by certain members of the Press Room and Terry Allen for swinging the 60’s back to life during racing.

Next stop Sandown where I imagine it will be all about AP, watch this space.

Last word goes to ‘Swampy’ who is jetting off down under in work over and above the call of duty and will from that point on only answer to ‘Fair Dinkum Dave’ until his eagerly awaited return. G’luck maaaaate.

(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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