Tales From The Betting Ring – Salisbury 03/05/15 @Betfred City Bowl Day #Bettingtales

I enjoyed a very pleasant evening meal after Goodwood with the Pickwick-Bevan organization, gentlemen all, not forgetting one glamorous wife.  Suitably content as is the way after a great night I was very much looking forward to this year’s first day’s racing at Salisbury as I set off this morning.

There was a tremendous crowd for the opening day of the new season too. Many of them were dressed in their Sunday finery trusting the weather forecast that the deluge of the morning was over for the day. Some of the bookmakers on the other hand hadn’t made the same effort. At least that was the observation of one seasoned racecourse regular who was appalled at the fall in standards of on-course bookmakers’ attire. He had a point too, one bookie on a prime pitch was in, wait for it, jeans and scruffy trainers. ‘He wouldn’t be allowed in dressed like that years ago’ sniffed the miffed veteran.

Identity hidden to avoid embarrassment.

Identity hidden to avoid embarrassment, a flash back to when blue suede daps were all the rage? Oh hang on, were they ever?

A glance along the line did confirm that suits were hardly in evidence, let alone ties. It’s all a far cry from the days of the likes of Harry Metcalfe dressed in a whistle and flute that could have come from Saville Row stood on their pitches calling the bets. Blimey in the old days you could even buy a suit from a shady fellow who beckoned you into the toilets to try on said bargain-priced item of dubious origin and legality.

Rocky and Paul of the Kelross team keep standards on the rail.

Rocky and Paul of the Kelross team keep standards on the rail.

Time to wipe those misty eyes and get back to the present where the season kicked off with the Betfred ‘Home Of Goals Galore’ Maiden Stakes. The bookmakers were busy for a good half an hour before the race and reported stakes as modest but brisk. One prominent firm have a secret weapon at this time of year, their paddock judge. She is mustard at picking those with and without chances in maidens on their looks. She comes back from the parade ring with her ‘circles’ on her racecard and they are ignored at your peril. 3/1 runaway winner Harbour Watch was one with a plethora of circles and backed accordingly. I shouldn’t really mention who with so won’t but I doubt Peter Houghton cheered up much from the last time I mentioned him.

Dapper punters show some of the bookies how to tog up for the races.

Dapper punters show some of the bookies how to tog up for the races.

Second race of the day was the Betfred ‘City Bowl’ Handicap which is a special treat for racegoers as they got to witness at close quarters a flag start down in front of the members’ rail. 10 went to post and betting was brisk in an open market with William Of Orange ans Spectator going off as joint-favourites at 7/2. There were a couple of decent bets. One firm laid a bet of a monkey each-way at 6/1 Rockfella, another of £2750-£500 each-way on Fun Magic. The bookie who laid it was resplendent in a pair of Elvis circa 1972 sunglasses and cool with it joking that ‘The punter didn’t even ask for fractions’. Huh huh you really should ask for fractions when battling on course bookies for maximum value, if you haven’t a clue what I’m talking about check my blog on the subject here. https://simonnottracing.wordpress.com/2013/05/04/value-seeking-on-course-punters-ask-for-fractions/

'Money Honey, Uh Huh Huh'

‘Money Honey, Uh Huh Huh’

Maybe fate was bound to bite ‘Elvis’ on the bum as not only did Fun Magic win, but it won by 11 lengths. The cautious punter who didn’t ask for fractions clopped the lot, savvy to value or not.

The third race on the card was the Betfred ‘Racing’s Biggest Supporter’ Fillies’ Conditions Stakes (Plus 10) and featured a short-priced jolly in Great Page who was backed from 4/7 into 1/3. Touted as a ‘Royal Ascot’ filly the price tumble appeared largely exchange driven but there were a couple of three and four figure cash bets too. Luckily these days when a holiday crowd makes it hard for the ring to ‘get’ the favourite the bookies have the option of laying it on the machine. Those that did and the lucky ones that got the cash in the hod had a result. Pretty much to a man they cheered 8/1 shot Illuminate as she put the favourite in her place in no uncertain terms. It wasn’t all great for the layers though, Bo Brown admitted the winner was his worst in his book, unorthodox at that might seem you can’t get it right all the time.

Glorious at Salisbury.

Glorious at Salisbury.

The Betfred ‘Supports Jack Berry House’ Handicap had a dead-eight field and saw some spirited betting with decent money reported for several horses. Soluble was sent off the 6/4 jolly but could only finish third behind 7/1 into 11/2 winner Maxwell. ‘Elvis’ had laid a lumpy each-way bet St Georges Rock which finished out of the frame so he was all smiles again after a race which was another good one for the busy bookies despite the clipping in price of the winner.

The rails they bet (sans ties)

The rails they bet (sans ties)

The fifth race on the card was the Betfred TV EBF Stallions Maiden Stakes. While there didn’t seem to be much in the way of chunks about in the ring Michael Bell’s Fabricate was all the rage backed from 11/4 into 15/8. Bookmakers were keeping their eyes open for the owner or maybe a royal footman wielding a regal wager but none was forthcoming. Maybe her Majesty was too busy visiting the newest great-grandchild. The gamble was landed with some ease despite her absence and to rousing cheers, though not from the bookies. There were stories of big money rolling up on the winner though without details to back that up. Further rumours of the winner being the first leg of a substantial double, the second part being on the baby’s name market are thought outlandish and dismissed by this blog.

The betting ring got the result that they were looking for in the penultimate  Betfred Racing ‘Follow Us On Twitter’ Fillies’ Handicap. ‘Elvis’ was bubbling with enthusiasm enthralling that ‘I’ve never known business like it’ before toning down slightly adding ‘On a Sunday’. He’d laid a couple of ‘rouf’ (£400) bets on Ishiamber at 7/1 and 13/2. Lucky for him then that 16/1 winner Saucy Minx was a neck too good for her at the line. There had also been notable money for Forest Maiden (11/4 into 2/1) and Goodnightsuzy at 7/2 and 4/1. I’m told one sharp-eared bookmaker’s workman copped a nice few quid backing the winner after hearing a connection backing her. Bearing that in mind there must have been a book or two with the shine taken off it.

The ‘lucky last’ was the Betfred Mobile Lady Riders’ Handicap (Lady Amateur Riders) and was won by 8/1 shot Two In The Pink. One punter had a £2000 – £250 that’s 8/1, if he’d asked for the fractions he’d have won the same money for a tenner less. I doubt he was too worried though given the result. Form student and bookmaker’s clerk ‘Q’ Comber backed the winner. One cheeky layer suggested that the winner’s name was slightly risque given it was a ladies race. I’m confused by that one, if anyone could help me out there! Whatever he meant I doubt that’s the reason ‘Q’ the shrewdie backed it.

Either way it rounded off a great day’s sport with a huge enthusiastic crowd which augers well for the new season at Salisbury. With that I’m off to Kempton…..

(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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