#Bettingtales From The Betting Ring – @bet365 Friday @Sandownpark 24/04/15

Just like at Exeter on Tuesday Sandown enjoyed an afternoon of racing bathed in sunshine with an excellent crowd. A large crowd didn’t necessarily translate into big bets though business was reported as brisk, apart from in the second line where Peter Houghton was decidedly grumpy and described his turnover in language too rude for what is a family blog.

If you want it all you have to do is put yours where your mouth is!

If you want it all you have to do is put yours where your mouth is!

The opening race was the  bet365 Esher Cup (Handicap) and boasted nine runners and flip-flopping favourites. The accolade of market-leader eventually went to Yeenaan who had been backed from 5/1 into 7/2 though not to any lumps. The lumps (lump) were reserved for Spring Offensive who attracted a bet of £4500-£1000. That punter must have rued the decision to invest because his fancy never looked like getting involved. In fact once Mutarakez took the race by the scruff of the neck a furlong out it was all over bar the shouting. There was plenty of that as Frankie Dettori still appears to be the champion of the novice punter, when in doubt have it on the only jockey you recognise the name of. Those that did were rewarded with A 7/1 winner, 8/1 if you were on early.

Ian explains the 'Blue Light Safety System' and strenuously denies ever calling 'Money Without Work'!

Ian explains the ‘Blue Light Safety System’ and strenuously denies ever calling ‘Money Without Work’!

Only five went to post for the bet365 Gordon Richards Stakes (Group 3) with Postponed (15/8) and Cannock Chase (2/1) attracting all the lumpy bets though even those were monkeys rather than grands. While the big punters got stuck into the market leaders the more modest backers stuck with ‘their man’ Frankie on Western Hymn. It was no surprise to see the gelding backed from 5/1 into 7/2 though a welcome one for the ring to see it win and land a quick-fire double for his jockey. So far the books were more than happy for their oft cursed nemesis to enjoy a brace of winners with the results in their favour.

Joe O'Gorman explains to Channel 4 that despite only being established in 1925 they are still better in every way than Jack Bevan (est 1897).

Joe O’Gorman explains to Channel 4 that despite only being established in 1925 they are still better in every way than Jack Bevan (est 1897).

Peter Houghton was still grumpy, but not quite as bad as he was apparently.

Frankie didn’t have a ride in the bet365 Mile (Group 2) reduced to six runners. The warm order for the race was Shifting Power backed from 9/4 into 15/8 after bets of £4500 – £2000, £1000-£500 and so on. Once again those that backed the jolly did their money when it could only finish third behind 4/1 shot Custom Cut. Peter Houghton even nearly smiled.

Glorious in the sunshine at Sandown.

Glorious in the sunshine at Sandown.

The fourth heat on the card was the bet365 Classic Trial (Group 3). Only four went to post with Frankie Dettori on the odds-on favourite Commemorative. Given that Frankie had already ridden two winners and that the jockey has form for racking the winners up in one afternoon it was supposed that the ‘firms’ might get involved backed the jolly. There were some decent bets for the colt, mostly at 8/11 including £1600 – £2200, but not the deluge of money that might have been expected, but still enough for the price to be clipped to 4/6 at the off. If the bookies were just scraping a few quid so far they were roaring when the race went to 12/1 outsider of four Master Apprentice.

The post-race banter was very illuminating. Barry Dennis asked if I’d been to the paddock before the race, I hadn’t. He then went on tell me that the favourite looked ‘fat’ and even went to the lengths of illustrating just how around his own not unsubstantial girth. There was also a tale that had gone around the ring prior to the race that a punter had supposedly walked into a betting shop at 11am and asked for £2000 at 14/1 the eventually winner. The story went on the relate that the customer was obliged with just 10% of the requested stake and sent on his way. You can assume that it was only seconds later that the word from those in the know got around eventually to the ever listening ears of the on-course bookies. Needless to say the outsider of four had been ducked, that task appeared to be made easier that hardly a Denar was seen for the winner on course hence the 10/1 to 12/1 drift. Maybe the word from the paddock and money for the ‘rag’ accounted for the off course firms being conspicuous by their absence.

Peter Houghton was now beaming.

Amazing what a result or two will do.

Amazing what a result or two will do.

Of course as we all know it’s foolhardy to get too excited before the fat lady has sung. The ring were brought back down to earth with a bump when Waady won the bet365.com Handicap. When I say won, I mean hosed up after several decent bets were struck at 5/2 and the SP of 9/4 favourite.

Business was reported to have ‘picked up’ by the penultimate, the surge in turnover attributed to corporate guests finally finding their way into the ring and bringing their £40 and £50 bets with them. Strangely very little of that money was seen for Frankie Dettori’s mount Brandybend. The punters latched onto jolly Moonlight Sonata at 6/4 and Leading Design backed from 5/1 into 4/1. Racegoers should have kept faith with the man in form. Frankie did it again and landed his treble by a hard fought head from 16/1 shot La Boheme with the jolly back in third. The winner had been allowed to drift from 11/2 to 8/1 which you’d imagine would have really looked nasty in that plethora of off-course Yankees, if of course they existed.

Peter Houghton was bracing himself for an off-course plunge, with some trepidation too, he’d been Gary Wiltshire’s right-hand man when Frankie rode his industry-busting magnificent seven back in 1996. To make things worse for those bookies facing roll-up bets the four-timer was a real possibility with Dettori riding one of the day’s bankers, John Gosden’s Jack Hobbs who opened up at a shade of odds-on at 10/11. That price touched evens when support poured in for Stravagante backed at all rates down from 7/1 into 4/1, none of that was to ‘noted’ money but the even money attracted the biggest bets of the day with several four-figure sums reported on the rails. Much to the surprise of much of the betting ring the off-course money stayed off course. Maybe people don’t do Frankie Dettori multiples any more. There was another bet worth mentioning, a punter had £250 each way on 33/1 shot Prince Of Paris, what was he thinking, he should have asked for the fractions, don’t understand fractions? See here https://simonnottracing.wordpress.com/2013/05/04/value-seeking-on-course-punters-ask-for-fractions/

While some of the ring may have hoped that the off-course market would inject some cash into the on-course it didn’t take them long to thank their lucky stars that they hadn’t. Jack Hobbs absolutely trounced his ‘opposition’ and won what was supposed to be a handicap by a very easy 12 lengths. Frankie got his four-timer up, hopefully a few Yankees were landed and the on-course bookies gave some back. That impressive victory brought Friday to a close with one legend and whetted our appetite to say goodbye to another tomorrow, no need to tell you who is there.

(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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