Chel­tenham ac­tion comes thick and fast

Si­mon Nott vis­its Prest­bury Hill

Racing Ahead - - TALES FROM THE RING -

CHEL­TENHAM, NOVEM­BER 11

There were a few fa­mil­iar faces miss­ing from the bet­ting ring be­fore rac­ing. Most notable ab­sen­tee was Greg Hughes who bets from num­ber one on the rails. His brother bet­ting on pitch one in Tatts al­le­vi­ated any fears that any­thing was wrong,he just had busi­ness else­where. Busi­ness else­where when Chel­tenham’s on? What­ever next.

My old mates from Jack Bevan and Co (est 1897) were on the miss­ing list too, which was a co­nun­drum. Of those that were bet­ting, over on pitch three in Tat­ter­salls, Star Sports’ Ben Keith was un­char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally ap­pear­ing a lit­tle edgy. “It’s a bit quiet, a bit like a BAGS meet­ing,” he ob­served some­what pes­simisti­cally. It was a bit quiet but it was also an hour or so be­fore the first.

Ben didn’t have time to share his con­cerns when bet­ting got go­ing for the open­ing Glen­far­clas Vet­er­ans’ Hand­i­cap Chase. It cer­tainly wasn’t like a BAGS meet­ing then. Pun­ters were keen to get stuck in.Sadly for the lay­ers the ma­jor­ity of the money went on 10/3 winner As­tra­cad backed down from 4/1. There was a bet of £8,000-£2,000 at the top price struck on the rails but gen­eral con­sen­sus was busi­ness was brisk but light.

The BetVic­tor Hand­i­cap Chase was a lively bet­ting heat.Ben at Star Sports likes to take on the big pun­ters and was ac­com­mo­dated to the tune of a bet of £22,500-£5,000 Siz­ing Codelco. That bet was struck at the top price on its tum­ble to 10/3 jolly. Else­where the books were hav­ing to jug­gle their fig­ures when a se­ries of bets of £2.50 each-way and fivers were fol­lowed by a £4,000-£1,000 then back to the fivers. There were smiles all around the ring a few min­utes later when 25/1‘right re­sult’Un Beau Ro­man shocked book­ies and pun­ters alike. “We needed that af­ter the first,” said a beam­ing John Hughes.“Pay Pay”was the cry from an­other joint, the age old call to let his bookie brethren know he’d had a “skinner”.

The pun­ters plunged on Barters Hill in the Steel Plate And Sec­tions Novices' Chase with untold bun­dles of cash on­course forc­ing the geld­ing into 11/8 from 7/4.The book­ies kept the money but not in a way they’d have liked, the jolly broke down early in the race. The even­tual winner 0 0 Seven was sent off 9/2 sec­ondin.

Whole­stone was backed from 7/2 into 5/2 favourite in the Nep­tune In­vest­ment Man­age­ment Hyde Novices' Hur­dle in a bet­ting heat that was de­scribed as “lively”. As well as money for the jolly there was de­cent sup­port for sev­eral oth­ers in the race to grands and mon­keys. The 13/2 winner Pere­grine Run was al­lowed to drift to 8/1 be­fore late money com­pounded the price. One rails layer ran into £4,000-£500 each-way but it was still an­other de­cent re­sult for a buoy­ant ring.

The 18-run­ner Opus En­ergy Novices' Hand­i­cap Hur­dle looked a fear­some race to solve so book­ies were sur­prised by a huge on-course cash plunge on Tu­dor City in­clud­ing bets of £4,500-£1,000 £8,000-£2,000.That money stayed with the lay­ers, who were saved by 16/1 shot winner Wild­moor Boy foil­ing the gam­ble by fend­ing off its chal­lenge all the way up the hill. One book­maker bet­ting in the back row of Tat­ter­salls called me over to say he’d laid a bet of £2,000-£70 the winner. That’s 28/1 with the frac­tions. There is value to be had, come rac­ing.

David Pipe’sWhat A Mo­ment had been weak in the bet­ting hav­ing been as short as 5/1 in the morn­ing but was al­lowed to go off at 8/1 for the con­clud­ing Markel In­sur­ance Am­a­teur Rid­ers' Hand­i­cap Chase. It didn’t stop him win­ning though. The books would have been happy with that with well-backed 9/2 shot Sil­ver­grove not only beaten but out of the frame. Day one went to the book­ies.

NOVEM­BER 12

Jack Bevan were here, which was a re­lief, they just didn’t fancy the Fri­day it seems. Their brethren were keen to point out how much they all copped but the firm took all the ban­ter sto­ically.Other book­ies had to be sim­i­larly ro­bust af­ter the open­ing JCB Triumph Trial Ju­ve­nile Hur­dle. Defi Du Seuil was ham­mered in the ring, Star Sports were clob­bered by a £15,000 - £8,000, an­other firm on the rails a £7,000-£4,000 the even­tual easy 5/4 winner, a nasty start.

One punter went for an even big­ger gam­ble be­tween races, the big screen bore the leg­end ‘Esme will you marry me?’ let’s hope she said yes.

Thistle­crack has been touted in sev­eral quar­ters as the likely winner of next year’s Gold Cup so it wasn’t a sur­prise to see

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