Tales From The Betting Ring – Kempton Park 09/09/15


Kempton’s press room was awash with nervous energy before tonight’s eight-race card. That’s obviously not unusual, who doesn’t get awash with nervous energy before an eight-race card at Kempton? That said, tonight was special as three hopeful would-be commentators were waiting to go through their paces. Not actually live, but recorded to be scrutinised as to their ability after the event. Best of luck to them all in their quest to be the next voice of racing. Two of the three would probably not be names that many would recognise, but should the third be accepted there could well be a massive ‘Yeeehaaa’ of celebration heard on the airwaves some time soon.

I was going to regale you all with a tale that took a good 15 minutes to relate to me. Regular readers will already know the drill. It was a long-winded story about a tip for a horse from a hot source that was backed from big prices into a smaller price before hosing up. Of course there was no telephonic connectivity in the vicinity when the tip was given so none of us were on, yes of course it was workmate Graham again, so I won’t bother.

On the plus side my mate and genuine judge Andrew Mount did put up an 8/1 winner at York on his free www.GG.co.uk column which I roared home, sadly I had no time to mention it to the aforementioned story teller before it won. Aye Aye.

The first race of the evening was the wide open looking 32Red.com Classified Claiming Stakes with the 10 runners priced up at 9/2 the field at the off. That didn’t stop one intrepid punter wading in with a £600 each-way bet on 6/1 shot Holland Park. He probably wished he hadn’t as the beast never looked like landing any part of the punt. It wasn’t all good news for the bookies though as Ocean Legend was backed from 7/1 into 5/1 and won by 3/4 of a length from 25/1 Veeraya,

It did go the bookies’ way in the Racing UK Anywhere Nursery. Gambled on Brave Archibald backed, from 11/4 into 2/1 favourite, was foiled by 25/1 winner Cara’s Muse who lasted home by a fast-diminishing neck from the jolly.

Sometimes it’s hard to resist the cake in the Press Room, tonight’s was a lovely chocolate sponge, so impossible not to have a slice. It’s one of those situations where I automatically feel dirty after a bit of guilty pleasure. That was made even worse when a svelte-like Simon who works for a betting exchange looked at my munching chocolate-coated chops with a mixture of pity and disgust. He patted his newly revealed wash-board stomach gained after cutting out such needless treats and shook his head in dismay. It’s then I decided to hit the keep fit routine again so set off on a mission to walk up and down the four floors of Kempton forsaking the lift to and fro the betting ring for the rest of the evening. I also need to cut out the rubbish grub. Watch this space.

I only had one slice so there must be some fatter than me lurking!

I only had one slice so there must be some fatter than me lurking!

I was still a bit on the chubby side when I got down to the ring after the third the Free Bet At 32RedSport.com Maiden Fillies’ Stakes. The market had suggested that Sea Pride wasn’t overly fancied drifting from 15/8 into 3/1 with Pecking Order shortening, probably in reaction, from 9/4 into 6/4. All those that sit at home and follow the machine did their cobblers laying and backing accordingly when Sea Pride hosed in. Alternatively those who fancied the winner and kept the faith got a Brucie Bonus.

Race Four was the 32Red On The App Store Handicap and went to Revision who went off at 9/2. Business in the ring appeared to be pretty quiet with ‘bottle’ (£200) bets the biggest in evidence, one of them on the winner at 7/2.

By race five I was starting to regret my new fitness resolution as those stairs took some puffing up and down but I hung in there. Down in the ring the bookies were ticking over without being exactly busy so that said it’s doubtful anyone stuck their necks out and came too unstuck with 5/1 winner Twenty One Choice. Especially as 7/2 jolly (from 9/2) Mulham was out of the frame. One bookmaker pulled stumps from the ring before the sixth, here’s hoping because he got his whack and not because it was no good.

On the rails they bet...

On the rails they bet…

The next race, the 32Red Conditions Stakes saw only four runners go to post with Hawkbill the hot 4/9 jolly. It didn’t look too competitive on paper but racegoers were treated to a thrilling finish as the 5/1 Steel Of Madrid bore down in relentless fashion on the favourite only failing to reel him by a head. One punter and at least one bookmaker must have been screaming in different directions as a bet of £5000-£1000 each-way (yes each-way in a four horse race, come racing) was struck the runner-up. Another bookie laid a £2000-£400 the same horse so copped that, no each way on that firm, no doubt to his relief.

The penultimate, The Learn English At isehove.com Handicap (Div 1) was delayed for five minutes when 8/1 shot Chapeau Bleu got loose for a while. She eventually set off after being caught and reunited with the rest of the field, her backers would have probably preferred she didn’t run finishing out of the frame along with Sweet Dancer was backed from 6/4 into 11/8. The race went to 20/1 shot Alketios which was one for the bookies, especially those that managed the lay the few lumps that were about for the short one including £1500-£1000 and £600-£400.

There was some anticipation surrounding the last, the Learn English At isehove.com Handicap (Div 2), not least me after having kept my promise to myself to puff up and down the stairs every race. No not least me but the bookies too, because Celtic Ava had been the subject of a morning gamble with some punters getting 7/1 before the price tumbled into opening show of 11/4 after having soaked on the machine for over 12 hours. That price soon vanished too, the filly went off at 2/1 though there weren’t any lumps reported on course. The assumption was that the connections were already on and that late-comers had just been snapping up the crumbs.

Those happy to scurry around nibbling the remains of other peoples fancy prices must have felt sick to the stomach to see the gamble trail in last. The bookies had the last laugh with 16/1 result Just Isla probably ensuring they kept what they took. That may or may not have been a lot, eight races is too many for most punters and punting appeared to be minimal despite the interest in the gamble horse.

I managed the stairs for all eight races though, just ruined it doing in the pub room biscuits after missing last orders for grub by a short head. Bugger.

(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 

http://www.simonnott.co.uk/?page_id=315

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

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Skint-Mob-Tales-Betting-Ring/dp/0992755409/ref=aag_m_pw_dp?ie=UTF8&m=A21IPGCYKI6061

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Tales From The Betting Ring – Goodwood 30/08/15


 

Day three of the Bank Holiday Meeting at Goodwood, some good weather as well an excellent crowd and some of the most stylish racegoers you’ll see anywhere. The vintage-clothing inclined certainly make the effort at this meeting. The type of crowd also screamed Bank Holiday, which means lots of small bets for bookies with the larger punters often on the missing list, at least that’s the theory – read on!

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Talking of punters, I have been lucky enough to have my card marked occasionally for the greyhounds at Wimbledon. My mate Malcolm puts the form-study hours in and has a great strike-rate of bets, I sometimes get these tips as a text. These bets are usually on a Saturday but I haven’t had one for a while. I spotted Malcolm from across the ring so made a beeline for him and inquired after his health, after all he’d been on the missing list as far as texting bets went. As it turned out he’d been fine, and he had to admit that he’d meant to text me his fancy last night but forgot.

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There’s no need to tell you if it won or lost, of course it won, as they always do when someone forgets to tell you but bumps into you after. Oh well, I was pleased for Malcolm who I promised I’d remind to text me in future. Here’s your reminder Malcolm. Let’s hope my independent bookie of choice Geoff Banks doesn’t read this after I’ve spilled the beans on my Wimbledon secret weapon, though I’m sure I’ll still be on.

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Anyway, back to the horse racing. The first event, The Nyetimber Maiden Auction Stakes featured an odds-on favourite. Those are never easy for the betting ring to get into their books with this sort of crowd though they do have the option of laying the short-ones on the exchanges these days. That’s handy because the old rule always was, don’t get stuck into the others until you have the jolly in the book. The jolly in this case was Skeaping backed on course from 8/11 including a £400-£550 into 8/15 though three-figure bets could be counted on one hand. The only other bet of note, and this one only scraped in, Thanksfortellingme £2400 – £300 on the rails. If the bet is described as scraping in to the ‘noted’ bracket the gelding did too, by a short-head from the rallying favourite to win the race. Not great for the book that laid the winning wager but the rest of them got the first market-leader of the day beaten.

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The second race was the Chichester City Selling Stakes and featured another short one. Solstalla opened even money in places, one punter got an even grand before the price dipped into odds-on where there were still takers with a couple more bets of £1000-£1100 seen on the rails. That was before the second-in 4/1 shot Western Playboy started playing silly buggers, unshipped his jockey and took off riderless. The wayward gelding was collared but swiftly withdrawn leaving the bookies with a red-hot favourite and a 20p Rule 4 to explain to their punters. The jolly won as it liked at a new market price of 2/5 which was pretty skinny compared to the payout minus the deduction endured by the books that laid the top prices. Nasty.

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The books got their recompense in the following Harwoods Group Handicap when 6/4 favourite Peterhof was no match for 9/1 winner Royal Toast beaten by over a length after a tardy start. Some layers did report getting the jolly in the book but had to go 7/4 to do so, were filled in accordingly but kept the money.

The Goodwood Amateur Rider Challenge Handicap (In Memory Of The Late Gay Kindersley) was a wide open betting heat with Unison the 9/2 favourite of the 12 that went to post. The money was generally slow but steady, that is until one punter scared the life out of a trio of boomakers lulled into a false sense of security. He waded into Dark Amber to the tune of £2200-£200 each way bump, bump, bump, apparently wary that he wouldn’t have got the lot on in one hit. He probably would have though, no doubt all that trio would have rather he’d left them out when the gamble was landed by a neck, 9/1 at the off. OK for some not so good for the three amigos.

Three defections made the Doom Bar Supreme Stakes (Group 3) just a five-runner affair but saw some competitive punting. Here Comes When was backed from 15/8 into 13/8 including some decent bets, Wannabe Yours and So Beloved also attracted three-figure bets at 4/1 and 10/3. The latter won the race supported into 5/2 at the off from the favourite. The winning distance was a fairly obvious looking head but a photo was called followed by a rather theatrical delay between starting to give and actually giving the actual result, the announcer had fun with that one. Another comical moment was the look on bookie Barry Dennis’ face when punters started presenting him with ‘winning’ tickets even before the result was given. I told you the result looked obvious.

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The penultimate 888sport Fillies’ Handicap went to Bateel backed from 4/1 into 7/2 but not to lumps. She beat 3/1 favourite Princessofthestars quite easily into second though she wasn’t backed to lumps either, in fact there were few lumps to be seen at all.

The Rock N Roll band out by the parade ring had started to tear into ‘Shake Rattle & Roll’ as betting got going for the Butlins Bank Holiday Handicap finale. Six went to post and it all appeared to point to a quiet race as punters drifted off to enjoy the early evening sunshine and entertainment. A quick pre-race chat to a couple of bookmakers left me in no doubt that at least those two had won over the three days and were more than happy with the business. Contrary to common belief, smallish and steady is better business than sporadic and lumpy.

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Then out he came, a punter with punting on his mind. Beau Mistral was his fancy and he was going to have it on. Bish, £5000-£1000, bash, another £5000-£1000 and bosh, another £5000-£1000. That’s quite a trio of bets, but he wasn’t done, he topped it up with a monkey at 5/1, who knows, maybe a bet for the Mrs.

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Beau Mistral went off at 9/2 and had every chance at the furlong pole. At the line it was stone cold last. I actually saw one of the bookies that took a grand bet do a little jig on the way back to his joint. That was the three day meeting topped off quite nicely by the looks of it. Happy Days for some, I’m sure the punter will be back.

Hopefully to Epsom tomorrow, that’s where I’ll be and there will be tales.

(c) Simon Nott

On a sad note, I’m told that ex-bookie and author of a much-loved weekly racing newsletter Rich Lee is very poorly in hospital. Hopes, prayers and positive thoughts his way please, it’s too early for a ‘time out’ Rich.

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 

http://www.simonnott.co.uk/?page_id=315

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

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Skint-Mob-Tales-Betting-Ring/dp/0992755409/ref=aag_m_pw_dp?ie=UTF8&m=A21IPGCYKI6061

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Tales From The Betting Ring – Salisbury 21/08/15 Archive


Rumour has it that tonight’s Salisbury crowd was the biggest of the season, you wouldn’t dispute it on appearance. The books were out in force too, who needs a £200k York pitch when you can have one at a Salisbury evening. The opening race of the night, the Shipseys Marquees Lady Riders’ Handicap (Lady Amateur Riders) saw a short-priced favourite in Cricklewood Green ridden by Katie Walsh. The jolly ebbed and flowed like the tide the betting being backed as big as 13/8 and short as 10/11 before settling at 11/8 at the off. The gelding looked in trouble a long way out then came to win its race under a determined ride only to be chinned close home by 12/1 shot Al’s Memory under Brodie Hampson. The winner had been 14/1 but I didn’t hear any books complaining, as if they ever do.

Salisbury rails they bet.

Salisbury rails they bet.

The Bathwick Tyres Maiden Auction Stakes was a decent betting heat, but; ‘all small though’. At the start and in the heat of battle 9/2 shot Ginger Jack unshipped its jockey and hurtled down the course riderless. It must have been a bit galling for punters who were on at around the opening price of 13/2, but at least they got their money back when  the colt was withdrawn. It had been off the course for some time so maybe one to scribble down for those that keep notebooks. That resulted in a 15p in the £ rule 4 which is the last thing you need as a bookmaker on a ‘public’ night like tonight, especially when the 5/2 favourite Ground Control wins the race. Thanks to years of bad press a lot of novice punters think that bookies are all crooks and scoundrels anyway so having your winnings clipped by them always leads to some confusion. Luckily the course were quick to announce the withdrawal and Rule 4 notice.

The ring they bet...

The ring they bet…

The Bathwick Car & Van Hire Nursery saw nine-runners and once again brisk betting. It may have been brisk but not exactly lumpy. One veteran rails bookmaker called me over and pointed to a button, ‘See that’ he advised; ‘that’s the £2.50 each-way button and I’ve very nearly worn it out’. I’m not sure if they have monkey each-way buttons, if they do I expect they are dusty but one firm did lay £2000-£500 each-way Knight Commander. Luckily for them (or unluckily depending on if you are a glass half full or empty sort of person) it finished second having been backed from around 5/1 into 7/2, one of the two best backed horses in the race. It was beaten a head on the line by the other best-backed horse Edification supported from 8/1 into 5/1. There may not have been many lumps but those 50 bob each-way bets (way before my time you’ll understand but a phrase used by those bookies of older persuasion) all add up, and take some paying out.

With an aging Sliver Fox they might bet, It that over 50's Bob?

With an aging Sliver Fox they might bet, It that over 50’s Bob?

Things were not as hectic for the five-runner British Stallion Studs EBF Stonehenge Stakes (Listed). Not least because Edward Greatrex was being treated back on the course for a nasty looking fall he had in the previous race. It’s not just the jump jockeys that put themselves in harms way every day for our sporting pleasure. The delay allowed the odds-on Tony Curtis to drift from 8/11 to 5/6, but it didn’t stop him winning. One firm not content with accommodating punters at the already alarming drifting price, or maybe because of, laid an even monkey while another laid £400-£500. That’s quite nasty when it wins by over three lengths, not for the those lucky punters of course, but this blog champions those bookies.

Winner of the nice tie award....

Winner of the nice tie award….

The Breeze Radio Handicap was another five-runner heat after two early defections. Betting was pretty static with all combatants going off the price they opened in the show. Punters were treated to a great race which largely went their way when 5/2 second-in Shell Bay just got the better of a drawn-out tussle with 7/1 Azilian. The books would have preferred the latter of course but there were no reports of any substantial bets and they would have drunk to the 2/1 jolly Scooner being beat.

The concluding Breeze Radio Handicap was over 1m 6f so one of the unique to Salisbury highlights featuring a flip start in front of the Members’ Enclosure. Betting was pretty open for the eight-runner event with each-way a pleasure on both sides of the betting fence. Talking of fences, one rails layer was made to jump with a fair bet on 18/1 shot Street Entertainer as they were off. Given the connections, one D Pipe, he was right to be wary. The gelding ran well to be second but not well enough to beat 10/3 winner Brittleton. The winner was the fifth in a row not good for the books so with their hods light of readies but weighed down with shrapnel they headed for home, a lot of hard work for a round of drinks if they were lucky. Probably

Punters scrambled to the front of the stage after being paid out keen to witness Britain’s Got Talent finalists ‘The Jack Pack’ preform their Rat Pack hits. Contrary to common rumour the quartet didn’t feature bookie Simon James in their line-up despite appearing in period costume. He’s got style he’s got class…..

Two Bob Hat?

Two Bob Hat?

(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 

http://www.simonnott.co.uk/?page_id=315

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

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Skint-Mob-Tales-Betting-Ring/dp/0992755409/ref=aag_m_pw_dp?ie=UTF8&m=A21IPGCYKI6061

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Tales From The Betting Ring – Kempton Park 17/08/15


It’s great to be back with the travelling circus that is racing after the equally great experience of becoming a father. It was hardly a long-shot that a Kempton All-Weather meeting on a Monday was going to be on the quiet side so easing me back into racing mode. Having said that by the off of the first race at 2.25 there was a very respectable crowd down in the ring. Only four lined up for the Betdaq – We’re Serious About Horses Handicap. John Best’s Mossgo opened at 6/4 with Extreme Supreme the 2/1 second-in. By the off they had flip-flopped in the betting with the latter backed into 7/4 in response to a weak original jolly drifting to a bottle. The big punters if there were on course any at that point kept out of it though with no lumps in evidence. The market got it wrong though as Mossgo won with some ease.

The next, The betdaq.com £20 Free Bet Handicap boasted seven runners but once again very little of interest as far as the betting market went. That is of course unless you were on the 6/4 favourite Khusoosy who eventually won as it liked after a short tussle with 11/4 second-in Barrahri. Once again betting on course had been steady but light with no sharks in evidence, no doubt much to the relief of the rail.

Third race on the card The British Stallion Studs EBF Maiden Stakes saw all 12 of the advertised runners going to post. Betting was livelier than previous races with Above N Beyond backed from 14/1 into 10/1, Verne Castle 10/1 into 8/1 and most significantly Valko 9/2 into 3/1. The clever money, the source appearing to be a mustachioed punter having bottle (£200) bets all along the rail just under the radar, was for the latter who hosed in landing the gamble. Three races down and the week was shaping up to be a bad one for the bookmakers.

Tap, tap, tap away.

Tap, tap, tap away.

Give them their due the bookmakers got their heads down and straight back to work betting on the next, the Download The Betdaq App Nursery. There was only one defection leaving nine runners. Premier Currency opened the fairly warm 5/4 jolly but was allowed to ease only slightly to 11/8 at the off but it didn’t stop it winning compounding the misery for the layers.

The race before the penultimate, the  betdaq.com 50% Commission Refund Maiden Stakes saw Every Instinct backed from 11/10 to 4/5 though £330 – £300 the biggest bet done at the price, in fact as far as I know in the race. But there must have been some depth to those little bets because 25/1 chance Hell Yeah had the bookies shouting words to that effect when winning the race. At least two firms declared that they were ‘out’ on the day. One bookie at least had a payout though, a racecourse regular making his Kempton debut had backed the winner. Admittedly to modest stakes but as the old sages say, you don’t need much on at those prices. I did make the schoolboy error of asking the triumphant punter how he managed to pick it. Let’s just say I didn’t get a CSE in maths so those equations and ratings figures that appeared to be in hieroglyphics certainly left me none wiser, but well done Jack.

The penultimate betdaq.com 50 And 100 Games Bonuses Handicap looked competitive on paper but proved far from it. Knight Music was backed from an opening 16/5 (yes correct – come racing, better than 3/1) into 11/4f and won by 11 lengths easing down. That was of course very nasty for the bookies and put them right back into the red again. Once again there was no ‘big’ money in evidence but plenty of £100 bets according to one firm, which is better than a load of shrapnel followed by someone asking for untold bundles on.

If the bookies were going to enjoy more than a fish supper for their efforts they needed a result in the concluding 14-runner Jockey Club Catering Handicap. Once again business was brisk but included no bets of any substance. Apart from that is the bookie that laid a bet of £50 in pound coins. I couldn’t quite hear what the horse was but I’m guessing it wasn’t the 12/1 winner Gavarnie Encore. At least those coins would ensure the hod felt reassuringly full on the way home . Jack was on the 12/1 runner-up Deftera Lad who he assures me would have won had it not been for bad luck in running. The 5/2 jolly Culloden finished nearer last than first but will not see doubt be back to battle another day.

We’ll all be back tomorrow. Looking over Jack’s shoulder for winners no doubt, Kempton’s easy!

(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 

http://www.simonnott.co.uk/?page_id=315

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

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Skint-Mob-Tales-Betting-Ring/dp/0992755409/ref=aag_m_pw_dp?ie=UTF8&m=A21IPGCYKI6061

Fancy a free bet with Victor Chandler and you don’t already have an account? There is such a thing as a free bet!

Archive ‘Tales’ From The Betting Ring.


My regular online blogs will be back shortly after a short hiatus while little baby Nott was delivered. This page will be the archive for the live ‘Tales’ that will appear on my all encompassing music and racing website www.simonnott.co.uk

This ‘Tales From The Betting Ring’ was originally published in Racing Ahead Magazine where I write an exclusive monthly column. I won’t be posting them here on a regular basis it’s just a taster. If you enjoyed it please support an excellent magazine that support me by subscribing. Royal Ascot follows below as previous published on my website. I will update this archive on an irregular basis too.

Racing Ahead Magazine  Tales From The Betting Ring – June.

The bookmakers were generally in high spirits on the morning of the Derby. When all say generally I mean pretty much all bar one. I’ll not name him but he’s quite often a guest on morning racing TV as he was that morning. He’d admitted that he’d laid a sizable (for the price) each way bet AT 80/1 on 50/1 Oaks winner Qualify which meant he’d lost on the race and indeed the day. Particularly galling when the rest of the ring appeared to have copped untold bundles. A little bird told me it could have been a lot worse, a regular punter of his came to the joint for a bet on an earlier race, saw he was AWOL from his pitch so had his wager elsewhere. He was successful to the tune of £10,000 plus the place money. Now that could have been nasty, especially when you take the next paragraph into context.

I was stood around in the ring getting the gossip low-down when a booming voice called my name. The growl was unmistakably that bookie Barry Dennis. He was sat behind his joint holding court as is his regular pre-race routine. I was slightly taken aback because I wasn’t even aware he knew me or even of me. Well he does and even reads my blogs too it seems because he threatened to reduce my readership by one, the ode worded as follows. ‘If you don’t mention that gardening quote in your blog I’m never reading it again.’ Now I have managed to cop a celebrity reader I’d rather not risk losing him. The quote he refers to for the benefit of those who don’t get up to watch morning racing TV was from the aforementioned bookie. He admitted to losing a hefty sum on the Oaks winner despite its 50/1 SP because ‘Hedging is for gardeners’. Well everyone does it their own way but if never hedging is your mantra putting your name down for an allotment might be a cheaper option in the long run than standing horses sticking out for miles in the ring. But who am I to argue.

Back in the days when I started working with bookmakers, Jack Lynn being the first, we generally worked from bad pitches. The floorman had to be on his toes because if we were caught napping we’d end up with a bet on a price that was gone with no hope of hedging. Those bets usually came from those in better pitches who happily laid a lump at 9/4 then had 5/2 back. These days those in the better pitches, some who have never actually bet in poor ones, look down on the bookmaker in a poor pitch hedging into the exchanges. Betting in the back row there was nowhere else to go, these days the less well-heeled or pitch-rich can at least book-make like the rest of them betting horses back at slightly bigger prices. Of course, the money from the good pitches doesn’t often get ‘hedged’ in the bad ones anymore either because they are snapping exchange crumbs up too. It’s a shame, on one hand the ‘machine’ syphons the money from the ring. On the other it levels the playing field too. There’s no doubt in my mind that the exchanges have damaged the on-course business terribly but they tell me the same thing happened when betting shops were legalised in the 1960s. The ring survived then and I’m sure it will survive now, but you can’t halt progress. I imagine the bloke that used to sell chalk is still seething at the advent of marker pens, the fella that flogged them in turn has the needle because of lightboards, and as for us poor floormen…

As you would expect Derby Day was heaving and the ring kept busy. I’m told the rails are never as good as they are on the Oaks due to the necessity of donning topper and tails to gain entry to the enclosure but there were still punters prepared to wear it and wade in. The results were definitely bookie-friendly but the two winning favourites were well-backed, not least with the addition of the ‘Frankie’ factor on 13/8 jolly Golden Horn in the Derby. I did hear one story from the rails that a firm laid the last winner, Ashpan Sam to loose £10k and that its victory ‘Took the shine off the day’, of course they probably hedged some of that liability.

Salisbury on Tuesday was back to reality but there were eight races to get stuck into so plenty of value for the bookmakers’ badge money. The results weren’t great with half the races going to the market-leaders. That included the opening two maidens. Our workmate Graham had a leg in runners in both divisions, they were long-priced and ran accordingly. At least he didn’t advise any sentimental wagers on the beasts.

Fast forward to Thursday at Newbury and being regaled by our Graham before racing with stories of having it spark bang off on his stable’s winner in the EBF Stallions Breeding Winners Margadale Fillies’ Handicap. That was the fifth race on the same day. He’d managed to get 7/1 about 6/1 winner Maybelater and ‘felt a bit sorry’ for the bookie as he’d lumped all his party’s wagers together which came to a nice few quid. He was also sorry that he’d not mentioned it was fancied when he told us the first two weren’t. Keep looking over your shoulder Armaloft Alex, that after-timing crown is in danger of being usurped.

The bookmakers were enjoying the glorious sunshine and were happy as they usually are, at least before racing. The bookie who famously stated that ‘Hedging is for gardeners’ has a prime pitch on the rails but was absent. Maybe he was in his greenhouse, my green-fingered friends tell me that June is a great month to plant cucumber.
It seems June is a good month for laying horses too, at least in the first when Twin Sails got up to win a nose at 28/1. It must have been OK for Pickwick-Bevan (Est 2015) because man on the stool Paul Gold treated me to some great stories about ‘Dettori’ day at Ascot back in 2006. I shall be saving them for the second volume of Skint Mob, you still have time to read the first though I’m only just starting it. The winning start is the way the day went for the books for the rest of the day, not a winning favourite on the seven-race card unless the count the winner of the Arabian race that preceded the main card.

Though business was generally modest but steady there were a few serious backers about having nice bets. ‘We’ve got a punter’ bemoaned a rails bookie’s bagman. They’d just laid a £5000- £800 a loser (that’s 6/1 with the fractions, if you don’t understand them google my fractions blog on line and learn how to bag the value). You might think the firm would be overjoyed to have a few decent bets coming their way. Not our hero who enlightened why with ‘We’ll have to stay ‘till the last now, I was hoping to get off early’.

One of the more bookie-friendly results was 6/1 Mister Musicmaster winning the Al Basti Equiworld Handicap under Megan Nicholls for Ron Hodges. Those with able hearing would have learned over the PA that the Champion Trainer Paul was in the Winners’ Enclosure to congratulate his daughter on her victory. Maybe the assumption is that the win was not unexpected, it’s a shame Nicholls senior didn’t wade into the ring and give us all a clue. Of course that’s probably why he didn’t, if he even had a bet at all of course.

The best result for the books after the opener was in the penultimate Insure Wiser Handicap when Jersey Jewel sprang a 20/1 surprise. In fairness it was a 5/1 the field race so not as cracking as it may sound but a great result none the less. One firm did lay a £7000-£500 each-way the unplaced St Georges Rock to a punter who evidently doesn’t know about fractions (he could have had £5000-£490 and saved a score) I’m sure they were delighted to cop the lot.

It wasn’t the same story everywhere though. One bookie was frowning into his computer screen having a bit of a moan up. Not what you’d expect after a big-priced winner, unless he too believed that hedging is for gardeners. No, it wasn’t that he’d laid it, he hadn’t, but it was the age-old bookie’s moan, ‘He hadn’t got his whack’. In reality his perceived whack, because another age old bookmaking tradition is to elaborate on both winnings and losses. His neighbours no doubt told him they’d got untold on the race. The frowning bookie’s right-hand man appeared to be getting a bit exasperated and in the end just stated the obvious ‘If you can’t take it you can’t win it’ spun on his heel and went in search of a coffee. In the old days that would have meant the smash down another 50p, these days more like £3, it never rains it pours!

Judging by the mass exodus of books before the last in reality business must have been a bit thin. Even the firm that ‘had a punter’ legged it so we can assume their benefactor knocked himself out before then because there were no tales of him having it spark off. On the other hand it could have just been to beat the traffic which has been a bit of a nightmare since the building work started.

Those firms that did stay for the lucky last, the Wiser Academy Gentleman Amateur Riders’ Handicap, possibly wished they hadn’t. There was a bit of a touch landed when Zachary Baker, younger brother of George, sauntered home on Silver Dixie after his mount had been backed from 4/1 into 7/2 attracting a couple of monkey bets at those prices on the rails. There were similar bets for Sword Of The Lord at around 10/3 who finished third. The jolly, Purple Lane was supported from 7/2 into 11/4 but finished out with the washing. Commentator Richard Holies gets top marks for his line ‘Sliver Dixie comes whistling through’ – bravo, he’s constantly calling them home with panache.

There ended a winning treble of meeting for those firms who had been present at all though by no means easy pickings but certainly a lot more fun than the potting shed. How’s that Barry?

(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 

http://www.simonnott.co.uk/?page_id=315

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

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Skint-Mob-Tales-Betting-Ring/dp/0992755409/ref=aag_m_pw_dp?ie=UTF8&m=A21IPGCYKI6061

Tales From The Betting Ring – 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 

http://www.simonnott.co.uk/?page_id=315

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

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Skint-Mob-Tales-Betting-Ring/dp/0992755409/ref=aag_m_pw_dp?ie=UTF8&m=A21IPGCYKI6061

Tales From The Betting Ring – 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.

(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 

http://www.simonnott.co.uk/?page_id=315

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

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Skint-Mob-Tales-Betting-Ring/dp/0992755409/ref=aag_m_pw_dp?ie=UTF8&m=A21IPGCYKI6061

Fancy a free bet with Victor Chandler and you don’t already have an account? There is such a thing as a free bet!

Tales From The Betting Ring – Royal Ascot Wednesday 17/06/15

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.

Fancy a free bet with Victor Chandler and you don’t already have an account? There is such a thing as a free bet!

(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 

http://www.simonnott.co.uk/?page_id=315

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

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Skint-Mob-Tales-Betting-Ring/dp/0992755409/ref=aag_m_pw_dp?ie=UTF8&m=A21IPGCYKI6061

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.

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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 

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Tales From The Betting Ring – Epsom The Oaks 05/06/15


Epsom – 05/06/15

I don’t why I always seem to start with the weather but here I go again, it was glorious. If you were at the course as early as me then you’ll have seen a couple of brief downpours but by the time the bookies were setting up it was flaming June.

All smiles.

I had a wander down the line for a chat and as you would expect at the start of one of thee meetings of year spirits were high. The Plymouth-based George Edwards organisation had two pitches down in Tattersalls and were living it up. Boss John told me that he had bagged top-notch accommodation on a Golf Course not far from the course. I may have given him an old-fashioned look. That would be because the firm aren’t generally given to letting a penny roll under the joint so four of them in top-notch accommodation? John must have clocked the look because he hastily added that they were all in one room. ‘There’s a double and two single beds’. And what of the fourth man? He was on the floor. He was also on the other joint and out of earshot, apparently happy as ‘Larry’ so assume oblivious to the sleeping arrangements.

IMG_3238

Joe O’Gorman was cheerful, possibly because Jack Bevan don’t bet at Epsom? ‘No, it’s busy already’ he enthused. It was the same story from Jane and Dave Hazell, busy already. I mentioned to one layer that my mate and great judge Andrew Mount had put Star Of Seville up as an 16/1 each-way bet in the Oaks.(Punters like me who would rather follow a judge than wade through the form would do worse than to follow Andrew, his free column is showing a profit in all codes this year, check it out https://gg.com/news/author/andrew-mount ) I was told that they were going all out for Al Naamah and if it won the firm would be treated to ‘Starters, main course and dessert’ tonight. He didn’t want to be named, possibly in case it did win and the staff took him to that promise. Paddy Campbell’s team were happy too and already reporting things as ‘busy’.

The opening Princess Elizabeth Stakes (Sponsored By Investec) (Fillies’ Group 3) got the rails books jumping when a punter had a £36,000 – £12,000 each-way on the favourite Odeliz. There was also another bet of £11,000-£4000 each-way. The bookmakers that took those bets would have copped but nearly got the place money too and can consider themselves unlucky not to trouser the lot as it just scrambled into the places by a head. The race went to 9/1 Arabian Queen so kicked the day off well for most of the betting ring. The Investec Wealth & Investment Handicap was a much more open affair with some firms on the rails describing the business as ‘quiet’. That given you have to feel sorry for the bookmaker down at the bottom of the rail that laid the top-priced £10,000-£500 each-way the winner Elbereth. It must have been even more annoying when all around him were cheering the 16/1 shot so he’d obviously not hedged it with them. Maybe the fact that jockey Edward Greatrex put up 3lb overweight (the jockeys catering better  than elsewhere then?!) had put him off, either way it was a nasty bet to lay in a race where most kept the little they took.

At least all his brethren were suffering with him after Arod won the Investec Diomed Stakes (Group 3) having been backed virtually to the exclusion of everything else from 2/1 into 7/4. One well ‘refreshed’ punter stumbled to the bookie that laid the 20 monkeys the previous race and thrust him a fist-full of tickets. I left as the exasperated layer tried to explain why fourth place does not win in a race of seven runners.

It looked fairly light business in the Investec Mile (Handicap). So much so that one bookie called me over, pointed to and asked me to pick up and hand him a fiver that was on the floor in front of his joint. I did as requested and was then given the ‘cheers easy’ look as he pocketed the note he’d spotted not dropped. Cheeky bugger.  Abseil was the one the punters latched on to, backed from 2/1 into 13/8 but it was Gratzie that had the bookmakers thankful winning at 7/1. It had been 8/1 but you’d assume it was a fair result for the books. Not so, at least in the case of one on the rails. He was so furious he threw his Racing Post to the deck. With it was a pony in readies. I handed the cash back to him without a word being exchanged, he’d suffered enough it seemed.

The Investec Oaks (Fillies’ Group 1) was the race everyone came to see and was the busiest punting race of the day. There were plenty of bets for plenty of the combatants. Jolly Legatissimo was fairly easy to back easing from 9/4 to 5/2 while Lady Of Dubai, Al Naamah and Crystal Zvezda all attracted money. The race itself was eventful, my mate Andrew’s tip Star Of Seville was badly hampered in a rough last couple of furlongs. Just as the bookies’ groans of ‘The jolly’s in front’ went up they vanished and instead they were cheering like mad-men. ‘We got the jackpot’ was one clerk’s phrase to his boss as he looked at the £0 take-out on short-head 50/1 winner Qualify. Surely nobody could have backed that with its recent form of  duck-eggs. ‘Even I didn’t lay it’ was the smiling admission from Apollo on the rails. Bo Brown in Tatts had laid it ‘At 80/1 – but I still won’. It then transpired that rather than being a total fluke-up the winner had been tipped up and backed from some shrewd judges. Tony Calvin had advised a ‘speculative’ bet at 110/1 on his blog. It’s true check it out here https://betting.betfair.com/horse-racing/horseracing-tips/ante-post/antepost-betting-epsom-oaks-5-june-2015-020615-166.html

Then Phil the racecourse regular with the winning smile admitted he’d backed it, at 66/1. Now he tells us.

The treble up was long-standing stalwart of the ring and press room Eddie ‘The Shoe’ Freemantle gave a wry grin and admitted he’d back the winner too. Well good luck and great picking to all three.

As often happens at big meetings once the feature race is over betting interest waned in the general public. Code Red won the Investec Surrey Stakes (Listed) at 14/1 but although it was a winning race pickings appeared thin on ‘tiny’ business. Likewise the favourite 3/1 Al Bandar winning the Investec Specialist Bank Handicap did minimal damage.

The bookmakers didn’t really want to go overboard about how they did. ‘It’s been OK’ was the general response but Colin Wadey was horrified I’d asked, ‘It’s only half time he’ spluttered but then added that the winner and second turnaround in the Oaks had been one of the biggest in the history of the firm.

Not that bad then, starters, main-course and dessert it is!

(C) Simon Nott

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