Tales From The Betting Ring – Royal Ascot Tuesday – Friday 2015

My blogs are now updated on www.simonnott.co.uk this page will serve as an archive.

It’s hard to believe that Royal Ascot has rolled around again, it hardly seems a few months ago we were all last here. My old boss Jack Lynn always said that a racing life would see it rush by at speed as we go from landmark meeting to landmark meeting. As usual with Jack he appears to be right, but it is a great way for it to whizz by.

One thing that has changed considerably is where all the bookmakers have decided to bet. They appear to have more and more choices each year. Leading Irish bookmaker John Hughes was betting up at the paddock for the first time and didn’t seem too enamored with his prospects. I tried to cheer him up and told him I’d heard it was good up there, he replied he’d buy me a drink if it was. Well I’m always up for a no lose bet we’ll see how that goes.

Ben Keith’s firm Star Sports have just bolstered their on-course portfolio by acquiring Victor Chandler’s pitches. With Royal Ascot is was a case of adding to their existing one. Ben was going to stand on the main joint on the front row of Tattersalls and said ‘He wouldn’t miss it for the world’. Regular readers may remember last year he won £400k in a day to ‘get out’ on the week. Safe to say it’s going to be a hairy five day ride for him and his team.

Ben Keith of Star Sports gets to work.

Big Jim on the rails was in danger of getting into hot water with the trade descriptions mob, he’s going to have to re-brand as ‘Modestly Proportioned Jim’ as he’s lost a colossal amount of weight since last year. Selfless to the end he was still dishing out free sweets to his punters. Dave Spice had two pitches, one keeping John Hughes company and the other down at the Bandstand. Once again regular readers may remember last year he was tucked up on an almost daily basis by a mystery lady he has down as ‘The Royal Milliner’, betting on the colour of the Queen’s hat. For fear of time in the Tower please note nobody is suggesting she actually is the Royal Milliner. The lady made an impression on young Spice though, who admitted losing sleep all week worrying about her inspired punts and that ‘her face is etched in my brain.’ Maybe that would explain his relocation but he was still going to price up the colour of the Royal head-ware regardless.

Moderately Proportioned Jim

The Pickwick-Bevan (est 2015) organization were also betting on the hat deep down on the course surrounded my Royal Enclosure. Of course they were all in Royal Enclosure clobber and in fine form. They asked if I’d seen Joe O’Gorman (est 1925). Joe is the P-B firm’s friendly rival. I replied in the negative (where are you betting Joe?). Rather cheekily Ian of  P-B said if I saw him to mention that it’s a little unfair that he starts the week on less expenses as there’s no VAT on child-sized Morning Dress. I’m not sure what they meant by that but I fear it was a little derogatory, on you Joe.

Cheeky Monkeys

On my way back up to Tatts I spotted two likely lads, Paul and Luke having a whale of a time in an outside bar, see photo, you may recognise them,. It’s a far cry from Exeter in the rain which is more akin to Harvey’s natural terrain but he seemed to have acclimatised well.


By the time the rounds were done the Queen was on her way down the course looking radiant in a cerise hat. At least that’s what Mike Vince told us it was. Assuming that Nicholas Newton Witchell was unavailable Mike was doing a great job of talking the Royal procession along their route and must surely be in the betting for next Royal correspondent. Neither of the boards I saw had cerise in the betting, but both paid out on pink. P-B (2015) copped on the race. Dave Spice reported being tucked up again, not by the mystery milliner but by a well-known Irish bookmaker who backed pink and ensured it was the worst in his book.  Before you cheer too hard ‘worst’ may have still not been a loser, he’s a shrewd cookie.

As is decorum betting halted as the Queen passed the ring then kicked on again with gusto for the opening Queen Anne Stakes (British Champions Series) (Group 1). It couldn’t have started worse for the books when 11/8 jolly Solow won the race having been backed from 13/8 one layer hit with a £13,000 – £8000. To make things worse the each-way punt Cougar Mountain was third having been a huge price in the morning and backed from 20/1 to 16/1 on course. Shortly after the race Dr Chris Steele of ‘This Morning’ TV fame appeared at the rails though rumours he was there to tend to already battered bookies proved just that, rumours.

'Injured bookies?' let me through I'm a Dr.

If betting was lively in the opener it really got going in the Coventry Stakes. Round Two was sent off favourite having been backed from 5/2 including a £10,000 – £4000 then more lumps at its starting price of 9/4 including a bet £36,000 – £16,000. Air Force Blue was backed from 4/1 into 7/2 but those that latched on to the winner Buratino 15/2 into 6/1 got the money. One firm laid a £10,000 – £1400 each-way – that’s 7/1 with the fractions – don’t understand them? Check fractions out here. www.simonnott.co.uk/?p=1079

Sole Power was the one they wanted to be on in the King’s Stand Stakes with some chunks at 3/1 including a £12,000 – £4000 before going off at 5/2 jolly. Muthmir was another well-backed from 4/1 (£12,000 – £3000) into 3/1. It must have been some relief to the layers when 20/1 winner Goldream provided them with their first proper result of the day. 50/1 short-headed runner-up Medicean Man would have been better mind but as Muthmir was only a neck away in third nobody was grumbling, too much.

Bookie Ben Johnson wasn’t just relying on good pitches and good books to win in his prime front row pitch. His joint was sporting a lucky mascot. I fear for the poor little fellow, the mascot, not Ben, I can envisage him being ‘converted’ across the home straight around 5pm on Saturday should things not go Ben’s way. But so far it was so good and all smiles! Please note that is a smile for Ben, really.

Let the jollies get turned over or the little fella gets it!

The St James’s Palace Stakes featured the first real short-one of the meeting. Ben Keith at Star Sports was screaming 4/7 Gleneagles when the majority of the ring were 8/15. It was trimmed to fall in line after he appeared to have takers. He wasn’t the only one to lay the top prices with a £4000-£6500 and £8000-£14000 just a few of the decent bets noted and going to the winning punters after its impressive victory.

The bookies had been quietened a bit after one of the bankers hit them right between the eyes. They would have fancied their chances in the 19-runner Ascot Stakes but did their money again when Clondaw Warrior landed a 7/1 into 5/1 Willie Mullins gamble. One firm laid a £5000-£700 each-way the winner (fractions again) but as you’d expect in big handicaps the bets were smaller than the previous race. Having said all that the book that laid the £37,500 – £5000 each-way the Mullins other runner Digeanta would have been pleased to see it finish seventh.

The books did get the well-backed 4/1 jolly Steady Pace beaten into third in the concluding Windsor Palace Stakes but 5/1 winner Washington DC wouldn’t have been any good for many layers, especially as it provided Ryan Moore with a treble. Spare a thought for the firm that laid a £10,000 – £2000 the last winner. Still it’s only the first day. I was going to ask John Hughes if I was on course for a drink, he didn’t look all that happy as he stared out over the parade ring so didn’t risk it. Maybe tomorrow.

(c) Simon Nott

Royal Ascot – Wednesday 17th June 2015

Day two dawned with more glorious weather and PR driven stories of bookmakers losing £5m yesterday. With that news, though dubious to my mind, ringing in my ears it was with some trepidation that I did ‘the rounds’ before racing. Bearing in mind this blog champions the fortunes of bookmakers I am glad to report things hadn’t been as bad as they seemed. Generally that is, but we’ll get to that later. Firstly, the Queen’s hat, Dave Spice did have pink the worst in his book, but as predicted yesterday, he didn’t lose on the race, that’s called proper bookmaking.

Bashful Dave Spice hides behind his glamorous team.

Bashful Dave Spice hides behind his glamorous team.

Talking of hats Paul Gold, the polite side of the Pickwick-Bevan (est 2015) partnership, was betting down next to Dave by the bandstand wearing morning dress and a straw hat. I asked if I could have a photo with him, he agreed and then changed headgear for the photo. Apparently the straw one is more comfortable but evidently not as aesthetically pleasing.

A man of letters and a bookie of many titfers.

A man of letters and a bookie of many titfers.

Joe O’Gorman (est 1925) wasn’t angry with the Pickwick-Bevan (est 2015) jibes about his stature and cost of his miniature morning attire clobber in this blog yesterday. In fact the first winner of the day was that betting in Tattersalls he doesn’t need to wear it at all. Take that P-B (2015), he’d actually done OK on day one too, take that again. I did leave him explaining to a couple of ladies that regardless of what they had been told they don’t get refunds if their bets don’t win, only if they do win. We have to remember that gambling might be second nature for us but not to everyone so confusion reigns but it’s weird that they singled out Joe in search of punting utopia. Did that rascal Ian of the Pickwick-Bevan (est 2015) send them in with a tall story? You never can tell.

On my way to have a chat with Joe I bumped into Lynda and Jill. Both lovely ladies are from long-standing and well well respected bookmaking families, Bindon and Pittard respectively, and as always it was a delight to see them looking so radiant and glam as they always do.

Senior ladies of the betting ring scrub up well.

Senior ladies of the betting ring scrub up well.

Yesterday evening I spotted a very despondent looking John Hughes gazing out over the parade ring from behind his pitch which overlooks it. It looked to me like he was wearing that haunted look that comes over punters and bookies alike when they have had a bad day. Not wishing to rub salt into the wounds I approached him gingerly to see if I was in line for the drink he promised me if as predicted his pitch was OK as I told him it was. I need not have worried, he bore the smile of a man that wasn’t exactly cheesed off with how things had gone. He was keeping exactly how it went to himself, I’d wager he won though which was great news, I wonder if a ‘drink’ is a pint or something more exotic. Mind you, there’s plenty of time to go before that goes on ice.

Just up from him young Alex (as opposed to oldish Armaloft) was betting on another joint bearing the Dave Spice moniker. He had a story which had me chuckling. A lady who appeared of some excellent stock came to his pitch and asked if he was taking bets on who was in the Queen’s carriage that day. He replied that she could bet on the colour of the Queen’s hat but sadly not her companions. She looked disappointed. Alex then asked her if she knew in advance who would be in the Queen’s carriage that day. With a cut glass accent she cheerily volunteered the answer, ‘Oh yes’!

Down near the new pitches on the Royal Enclosure Lawn a group of bookmakers were chatting about who bet where, who got what and which pitches were best. It was mentioned that one layer who shall remain nameless said that his pick, which he was stuck with for the week, was ‘useless’. ‘It’s great then’ was the retort from a veteran rails layer of some standing, ‘If he said good morning to me I’d change into my pajamas!’

Star Sports’ Ben Keith reported that he was happy with the brisk business on course but that his firm had lost overall on every race at Royal Ascot yesterday. As always though he was confident he’d be getting it all back plus some and seemingly raring to get stuck into the first.

The Queen was wearing a blue hat when she arrived on course. ‘That was my worst, I laid a late £300-£100’ reported Dave Spice. ‘Yes it was worst for me too’ said Paul Metcalfe on the Pickwick-Bevan (est 2015) joint before adding,  ‘Spice had £60 back with me’. We are not talking big amounts here as you can see.

The rails they bet...

The rails they bet…

That was certainly not the case in opening The Jersey Stakes. Ivawood was backed from 2/1 into 15/8 with several lumps  laid on the rails including a £17500-£10000 as well as several £4000 and £5000 bets. That money must have encumbered the jolly because it tailed in 14th behind 14/1 winner Dutch Connection who was half a length too good for runner-up Fadhayyil. One firm laid a £45,000-£5000 each-way that one. They were probably thanking their lucky stars and ruing their misfortune running into it in equal measure.

The bookies didn’t have a lot of time to count their winnings because all those who backed Acapulco in the Queen Mary Stakes from 3/1 into 5/2 were soon relieving them of it. Not only was the winner backed with good money there were bundles for the third home Besharah with the places too including an £11,000-£2000 each-way.

Next up was the  Duke Of Cambridge Stakes which featured the day’s short-one,Integral. Some firms seemed determined to get her and got filled in at 10/11 and 5/6 before general 4/5 shortened to 8/11. Bets of note included a £16,000-£20,000, £10,000-£12,000 and a plethora of smaller, big, bets. The layers who took the jolly on could hardly have written the result in better when Amazing Maria lived up to her name with a 25/1 surprise. Rumour was that Star Sports had laid a single wager of £80,000 – £100,000 in their office. I asked Ben Keith and he confirmed the bet. I congratulated him and went to leave his joint but was called back. ‘I f**king needed it too, I lost a quarter of a million yesterday’. Hmm that put things back in perspective.

Which one's mine?

Which one’s mine? They are going to the start Rodney.

In hindsight it might have been a high-rolling Armaloft Alex type moment because from then on it went horribly wrong. Free Eagle was supported from 3/1 into 5/2 including several four-figure bets in The Prince Of Wales’s Stakes while The Grey Gatsby was plunged on, a lot of it each-way including a £36,000 – £6000 and £10,000 – £2000 each-way. One firm on the rails admitted that those two had been pretty much backed with the exception of anything else and they be fine if they got them beaten. In reality the result couldn’t have been worse, the jolly beat Gatsby. It did look to some as if the runner-up had actually got up after suffering a less than clear run. He hadn’t, the judge’s photo proved he’d failed by a short-head. One punter was heard to lament that jockey of the runner-up Jamie Spencer ‘hadn’t stayed retired’. Maybe a little churlish that one.

The books were back in it big style with the 30-runner Royal Hunt Cup next up. The betting really was lively on the rails, one firm laid a £120,000 – £10,000 each-way Spark Plug and another £25,000 – £2000 each-way the same horse (the latter punter asked for the fractions). There were also good bets for Temptress including a £9000-£1000 each-way (£9000-£990 if he’d just asked) but at the line it was 8/1 shot GM Hopkins who got the money, sadly for the ring in general it was under Ryan Moore who is now the new ‘when in doubt’ jockey for the general public so a pretty bad result for most. Temptress was second but Spark Plug fell when still in with a chance.

The concluding Sandringham Handicap saw Always Smile plunged on all day sent off at 2/1 with 9/4 done on course including several grand and bigger bets. That gamble was foiled by a nose when Frankie Dettori’s mount Osaila got just got up on the line. The winner had been 10/1 but returned 13/2 after sustained but generally modest support. For once Frankie winning saved the ring, not cost them fortunes, but one firm did take a £7000-£1000 the winner which probably ruined their race. The last result may have saved the betting ring from a catastrophic day but probably wasn’t enough to make it a winning one.

As I left the course I was called to by a smiling John Hughes. He asked how they had done in the main ring. I replied that I’d imagine they’d all done their bollocks. That smile blossomed to a beaming grin. ‘Have they’ he chuckled, ‘Have they really?’.

There’s no need to elaborate I’m sure!

Still three days to go, bring on Ladies’ Day.

Royal Ascot – Ladies Day 18/06/15

There was me thinking that people like my little blogs, I’m sure some do but not everyone. I had a couple of tweets in the negative last night after I posted Wednesdays blog. I did have some people spring to my defense, thank you but of course everyone has a right to an opinion and all opinions on the betting ring interest me. Here are the two

Tales from the betting ring; “We all layed everything 2 prices lower than we backed it on betfair, THE END” shaaatthafackaaap

Followed by a

you try very hard to make what goes on in ‘The Ring’ relevant and interesting. Its neither. Maybe give writing Erotic Novels a go

Oooch, well that told me. I may actually have a go at erotic novels, maybe ones set in the betting ring as suggested by Rod Street

Erotic Betting Ring novels surely!

Strip Mob maybe? I will have a think on it. Either way sorry you don’t find the blogs interesting Daire I will try to do better today, though I don’t suppose you’ll be reading anyway.

Secondly, there were also some grumbles about the Queen’s hat market I have been leading on. Yes I do accept that those that can work out percentages may well have run out of paper when adding then up. What you have to bear in mind is it is a low-staking novelty market in when the books run the perilous risk of running into the big staking, well-informed well-heeled! I did tweet this morning that I’d not be covering it today. I have to go back on that because I got a message from a UK racecourse regular affectionately known as Swampy. Swampy is currently working in Australia where he evidently has too much time on his hands. He’d gone back over the form of the Queen’s chosen hat colour (from where I have no idea) and come down on green. He messaged me that he’d like a price on said colour. Dave Spice had 5/2 on his board, Swampy asked for 4/1 and as Dave laughed and said he was going to offer 5/1 so settled at 9/2. Swampy had a score on, with a ring (old field book days slang for a bet on credit).

That's an impressive stand.

The Queen was still a good hour away at this point so I did the rounds but changed my route. Ladies Day is always a favourite, as Balertwine Barry (retired) once announced ‘It’s like Newton Abbot, only the girls are prettier’. I’m not sure about prettier but pretty ladies in their finery were everywhere so the books were up as soon as possible to try and lure them from the Champagne Bars and into betting. Colin Wadey and Dad Ron were down on the far end of Tattersalls and offering a multitude of bets. There wasn’t a lot in it after the first couple of days so were keen to get in front.

Colin under Ron's watchful eye both looking very dapper.

Further down on the grass it was a similar story with Glyn Jones and Son who really had made the effort for the special day. They too said there wasn’t a lot in it. That’s not a lot of good for bookmakers who have huge expenses to cover for the week, they too were keen to get tapping away so left them to it.

img_3303 (1)

Back up in Tattersalls Channel 4 presenter Tanya Stevenson was giving Star Sports Ben Keith the rub-down. When I say rub-down I mean a 5-star rub-down with a chamois leather. Now stop right there if you think that I have taken up the erotic betting ring fiction already, this rub-down is winding someone up when you know that are losing. Ben had informed me that he’d lost £250,000 on Tuesday and topped it up with £90,000 yesterday. Tanya’s question to Ben? ‘Are you in front?’ I suggested that she was being a rascal but told me that it’s a tradition between the two of them from some 15 years ago when they used to bet at the dogs.

Talking of the rub-down. The Queen’s hat, Aye Aye Swampy, officially described by Mike Vince as ‘Mint Green’. Somewhere in Melbourne an ex eco-warrior let out and Antipodean ‘Aye Aye – maaaaate’.

9/2 about a 5/2 chance landed by Swampy!

Poor Dave Spice, he also paid out on white which is one in the eye for those who said there’s no value in the market. Pickwick-Bevan (Est 2015) won a carpet. That’s it for this year I promise.

The first race on the card was The Norfolk Stakes and featured two short ones King Of Rooks and Log Out Island who went off at 11/8 and 13/8 respectively. There was decent money for the pair pretty much with the exception of everything else. That is of course to big bets, but anyone who follows jockeys and historical coincidence bets may well have had their fiver or tenner on Ryan Moore’s mount Waterloo Bridge which went off at 12/1. Judging by the roar from the rails when it won if they did the bets didn’t mount up enough to ruin the profits of those that went down the book and ‘up the front two’.

Bookmakers suddenly sensed that this could be their day, on one of the busiest days of the meeting too. They’d be getting their loses back, copping the exes and be into wages territory before the afternoon was out.

Those thoughts lasted about 35 minutes because 15/8 favourite Time Test winner of the Tercentenary Stakes had been 2/1 and backed to the tune of £10,000 – £5000 and various lesser lumps. It was one of those races where the layers knew their fate a fair way out and just had to suffer as it cruised to an effortless win. To make things even worse it was under Frankie Dettori which ensured plenty of novice ladies were on so queues for payment were huge, but at least they were attractive queues.

Still, there was no time for fretting because the Ribblesdale Stakes boasted another short one in the shape of  Pleascach. Early punters snapped up 6/5 including a couple of £3000-£2500 bets before the heavyweights waded into the even money to the tune of an even £20,000 and £15,000. In addition to the big lumps there grand bets coming in like gnats but the bookies were swatting them into their hods with hardly a blink. They were rewarded for their valour by 9/2 second-in Curvy collaring the jolly inside the final furlong. Saved again by none other than Ryan Moore riding a double in the process. While the winner would have been popular those that filled their hods with jolly money would have been happy enough. .

If things weren’t already lively they really heated up in the Gold Cup. Mizzou was backed from 9/2 into 7/2 including a bet of £2500 each-way at 11/2. Forgotten Blues attracted several four figure bets at 9/4 and 5/2 including one of £3000 each-way but it was Ryan Moore’s mount Kingfisher that came in for colossal money. One bet of £55,000 – £10,000 of £100,000 – £20,000 and another of £100,000 – £16,000 along with plenty of smaller wagers that would have been eye-watering at a lesser meeting. What Trip To Paris’s 12/1 victory denying Moore a treble saved the betting industry is anyone’s guess but save them it did. Ben Keith was delighted and declared that he ‘Was nearly out of his first two day’s losses’

You’d normally expect the 28-runner Britannia Stakes to be a lively but low-staking affair. Not today, Ryan Moore mania was under way. Given his previous two-day successes it appeared that the off-course firms were still looking at some serious pay-outs from multiples should he have another winner. Especially given the prices. While there were plenty of decent bets for plenty of horses it was Moore’s mount War Envoy that had the betting shops in jitters. One off course firm was active in the ring snapping up any 14/1 and 12/1 that was available early and there was a fair bit. He did have a helping hand from the punting public who also wanted to be in on the action with at least one grand bet seen at 10/1 the eventual starting price. The temptation for the layers who laid the trade to stand the horse knowing that it was only running-up hedge money in a huge handicap must have been a great one.

It was also a near fatal mistake if they did so. Boomakers could scarcely believe it when Ryan Moore did it again winning by a neck. Now there really was a rumble in the ring. Memories of Frankie’s Magnificent Seven at this venue in 2006 are still fresh in the mind of many who still stand. While not quite as monumental as that day the layers braced themselves for a deluge of trade money in the hope of keeping Ryan Moore’s mount Dissolution price in check to limit what must have been gargantuan collective liabilities in the concluding King George V Stakes.

The ring took no chances in tentatively  pricing the colt up at 2/1. However some were keen to get him in the book, as you might expect Ben Keith was stealing himself for the onslaught. I asked him the plan of action, to which he replied, ‘I’m going to go mental on it, and I’ll take the firms on, the trouble is they don’t ask for big enough bets’ and with that he gritted his teeth and got to work.

The ring stands firm.

The trade money did appear but appeared largely to be there to snipe at any firm that stuck their heads over the punting parapet. Some did, bets were noted 11/4 and 5/2 but still more and more firms broke ranks which resulted in an SP of 9/4. Those that stood their ground got the money when the excitement faded as Dissolution could manage only 9th behind 9/1 shot Space Age. The winner had been quietly backed from 11/1. Nobody appeared to be moaning, the bookies just wanted the one horse beaten and they got it.

Ladies Day in the ring had been exhilarating, I dare say the books won after all the excitement, after all only one jolly obliged. The last brace of days are shaping up to be very lively indeed. Watch this space.

Royal Ascot Friday 19/06/15

Friday has flown around so I thought I’d take a trip down to the Silver Ring and see what’s been going on where thousands of punters and around 95 bookmaking firms take each other on away from the grandstand. First on my list to visit was to Stoke on Trent bookie Keith Wakefield father of a friend of mine. He said he’d been enjoying the week but felt sure that there must be people on the gate giving racegoers a piece of paper with all the winners on as they come in. ‘If it isn’t Ryan Moore on the winner it’s Frankie Dettori’ he lamented.

Still smiling and flying the flag despite the punters knowing all the winners.

Still smiling and flying the flag despite the punters knowing all the winners.

Words that I’m sure bookmakers all over the country can sympathise with. One the plus side the weather was gorgeous and the people were pouring in, hopefully for a punt as well as a Pimms.

The Silver Ring crowd early doors

The Silver Ring crowd early doors

Mother and daughter team Jane and Lucy Hazell were looking resplendent on their pitch and said that business hadn’t been bad at all but could do with a couple more favourites beaten. No bookmaker was going to argue with that.

Jane and Lucy looking gorgeous as ever.

Jane and Lucy looking gorgeous as ever.

John Lee who stands under the name George Edwards echoed those words. Regular readers may remember that I mentioned the firm were living it up at the Derby meeting staying at a five-star Country Club, albeit with ‘cosy’ sleeping arrangements. John looked as if he didn’t know if he should laugh or cry when he told me they’d not bagged such salubrious digs for this meeting. ‘It’s in Ripley and just like Faulty Towers’ he admitted, before going on, ‘The guy came out to get our orders for breakfast this morning, one of my men asked for beans on toast. He brought toast out with our teas then five minutes later came and took back the couple of slices we’d not eaten yet and said he needed them to put the beans on!’. Oh dear it doesn’t sound great, let’s hope the exes reflect it.

You'd look slender too if Basil nicked your toast.

You’d look slender too if Basil nicked your toast.

Back up in Tatts Paul Metcalfe of the Pickwick-Bevan (Est 2015) firm also had a ‘staying over’ story. A lot of firms use this week as well as Goodwood to double up as family holidays so stay in better places than poor John Lee (who is anything but poor, ahh maybe that’s the secret). His firm who are like family but not really had the pleasure of staying in the same hotel as a bookmaker from their South-West area. I shan’t mention his name for reasons that will become apparent. Apparently this bookmaker enjoys a pint at night then without fail, publicly for reasons known only to himself, always takes a Viagra before retiring to bed. ‘It wouldn’t be so weird if he wasn’t staying on his own’ mused Paul with a slightly repulsed look on his face. Sidekick Ian added ‘I hope he leaves a good tip for the girl that does the laundry’. Ewww enough, at that point I made my excuses.

Don't call the Police, that shady looking bloke's not a pickpocket targetting the toff but Bevan's floorman. Little did they know the Toffs were pickpocketing them....

Don’t call the Police, that shady looking bloke’s not a pickpocket targeting the toff but Bevan’s floorman. Little did they know the Toffs were pick pocketing them….

On the way back up to the main ring I bumped into Tony Styles who bets as Bob Stock and looked a immaculate in his morning dress. He’d been off for comfort sweets in anticipation of another hat-full for Ryan Moore. I didn’t relate the Bevan story, he’s to much of a gentlemen to inflict its sordid images on. Sorry for telling you dear readers but a story is a story.

Tony does it in Style

Tony does it in Style

Talking of stories Peter O’Toole was having a chuckle to himself. He mused that after reading that Star Sports had been laying bets to lose £100,000 he have thought they could afford some marker pens rather than borrow them off him. He didn’t mind helping out of course, and thinking of it maybe laying those bets is why they had to use his!

Amazingly after using all that ink Peter still had pens to lend the high-rollers.

Amazingly after using all that ink Peter still had pens to lend the high-rollers.

Gossip and small talk over, first up was the  Albany Stakes where the ring could breathe a sigh of relief that their nemesis Ryan Moore didn’t have a mount. 18 went to post in what looked a very competitive race. Maybe that accounted for what appeared to be relatively light business. If that assumption is correct the big layers dodged a bullet when 4/1 favourite Illuminate started the day well for jolly-backers under Richard Hughes. The biggest bet on the winner I heard of was a £9000-£2000, but a winning favourite is a losing race for the majority of boomakers so a bad start.

The  King Edward VII Stakes saw only seven go to post and was a tight betting race. Stravagante was sent off the 11/4 favourite with Balios snapping at his heels for that mantel at 3/1. Sadly the jolly was pulled up while Balios won well under Jamie Spencer. There was rumour that one firm laid £105,000 – £30,000 the winner, that would have been very nasty indeed with four races to go. That punt aside the first two races hadn’t really come alive betting-wise but The Commonwealth Cup saw the ring ignite. There were noted bets for half a dozen horses including a £100,000 – £40,000 and £45,000 – £20,000 Ryan Moore’s mount Hootenanny and that after early birds got £15,000 – £5000 and £6000-£2000. Tiggy Wiggy also attracted good money including a couple of each-way £3000 bets as did Limato at 6/1 and 5/1 before being forced in 9/2. The punters on the latter got the place money for finishing runner up but the bookies copped the rest after the victory of 10/1 Muhaarar. That is of course apart from the firm that laid £11000 – £1000 each-way the winner, someone always has to run into one but the result was generally a good one for the ring.

Wanna buy a Ford Capri?

Wanna buy a Ford Capri?

Seemingly not deterred by the recent defeats proving that Ryan Moore is in fact a jockey and not Superman the punters waded into to his mount again in the Coronation Stakes.  Found was lumped on to the tune of £30,000 – £16000 and £45000-£24,000 as well as a multitude of lesser chunks before being sent off at 13/8f. At the furlong pole it looked as if Moore was going to bag another winner and the bookies feared the worst checking how long the figures in red next to its name were. Then, a Gallic saviour came to do the jolly on the line, 3/1 French raider Ervedya under a prefect ride from Christophe Soumillon. Of course at that price the winner wasn’t un-backed, far from it, several grand bets were laid in the ring but getting Ryan Moore’s beaten would have ensured a winning race for the books.

Race by race it was beginning to sway the way of the betting ring again. The penultimate Duke Of Edinburgh Stakes was a competitive handicap with Ryan Moore’s mount Dashing Star and Richard Hughes’ Arab Dawn sent of 6/1 joint-favourites. Once again the punters were keen to bet Moore’s mount. The firm that laid £30,000 – £5000 each-way must have been delighted to see it out with the washing. The trouble was Hughes bagged his double when Arab Dawn won the race, somebody had a £30,000 – £5000 each-way that one too. The same punter and the same bookie? Sadly I wasn’t placed to find out. The majority of firms probably wouldn’t have had the winner for the Bank Of England but wouldn’t have won on the race either. Lucy Hazell had told me that she was going to go all out for Continuum but sadly for her it was nearer last than first.

It's goodbye Royal Ascot from me for another year.

It’s goodbye Royal Ascot from me for another year.

The concluding Queen’s Vase saw yet another favourite with Ryan Moore on board this time Aloft. People tend to have short memories in racing, after a blank afternoon it was a case of Ryan who rather than off-course money piling into the ring and lumping on at any price. Aloft (surely named after my prematurely celebrating mate Alex) was aloud to ease slightly from 9/4 to 5/2. Bantry Bay was solid at 3/1 while Great Glen and Yarrow were clipped in to 5/1 from 6/1 and 13/2 from 7/1 respectively. My mate Andrew Mount had advised me to have a shilling each-way on his fancy Tommy Docc this morning, which I did. Inside the final furlong there was a serious danger of me losing my voice as it looked as if the 33/1 shot might just prevail, shout as loud as I did I was drowned by the cumulative voices of the betting ring willing him and Phillip Makin home. But it was not to be, he left it late in the day but at the line it was Ryan Moore on Aloft that proved 1/2 a length too good for the field.

As the dust settled it transpired that one firm laid a bet of £100,000 – £40,000 the winner in the hole. Trying arbing that lot on the exchanges those that belittle the betting ring and those that do battle in it.

There’s one day to go but this is the last blog of the meeting from me. Thanks to everyone who’s read them this week, comments most appreciated. If you came here via me spamming myself out on twitter and enjoyed the read please give me a re-tweet. Many thanks.

I promised I wouldn’t mention it, but you know that novelty market I’ve been leading on all week. Today’s was yellow and backed from 3/1 into 1/2 – the last bet £100 at bottle on. They know I tell you, they KNOW!

(c) Simon Nott

My  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

If you’d like one you can buy a signed copy  direct  from me via paypal here 


It’s also available on Amazon, Nook, Kobo and on Kindle.



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