Form guide

Si­mon Nott re­flects on two typ­i­cal days from the bet­ting ring at Bath and As­cot

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BATH 12/07/17

It was a glo­ri­ous night and up at Bath,Star Sports had a Silvestre De Sousa spe­cial on of­fer, four of his mounts to be placed pay­ing 6/1 so I thought I’d come up and blog it’s progress.That quar­tet didn’t kick off un­til the 7.10 run­ning un­til the sev­enth and last at 9.10.

Reg­u­lar read­ers will re­mem­ber my last col­umn where I re­lated Andy Smith’s story about him and his mate Ash hav­ing one too many prior to work­ing for bookie Ed­die Bax­ter. Andy col­lared me when I ar­rived on course,he was fairly happy with how I’d writ­ten the ar­ti­cle but I’d missed out one very im­por­tant fact.All the favourites had obliged and Ed­die was the only book­maker on course that had still won,thanks to Andy and Ash’s duck­ing and div­ing de­spite their hun­gover state. Sorry Andy, hope­fully this clears things up.

Busi­ness in the opener looked pretty quiet but then word came that a rails firm had laid a mon­key each-way Mambo Spirit. You’d have to think that was a fair bet to lay given the horse is 13 years old. And so it proved, the money stayed with the bookie, the vet­eran was un­placed be­hind 7/1 win­ner and num­ber seven, Lucky Clover surely a great win­ner for the su­per­sti­tious.

The next cou­ple of races went well for the on-course books, 7/1 Union Rose was a handy re­sult beat­ing 5/4 jolly Trick Of The Light in the Brakes Hand­i­cap Stakes then 6/1 In­noko was another cracking win­ner in mod­est books in the Bluefin In­sur­ance Hand­i­cap Stakes.The lat­ter was the first leg of the Star place ac­cu­mu­la­tor, Hope Is High was the se­lec­tion and went of the 6/4 favourite. Silvestre De Sousa looked to have stolen the race on the jolly when he went clear turn­ing for home then only just held on for third,but that counted in a dead eight race.

Be­tween races I no­ticed Peter O’Toole has now got a light­board. That may not seem very un­usual but he’s stood against them for 11 years.He had to con­cede in the end. All this years he has stood firm in his one-man protest against hav­ing to have one of these new-fan­gled de­vices,he was more than happy with his white­board. He may well re­gret his 11-year stand be­cause he told me that since he’d start­ing us­ing the elec­tric board busi­ness had boomed, though I’m tak­ing the fig­ures he boomed to me with a slight pinch of salt and re­mov­ing a 0!

The sec­ond leg of the spe­cial was in the next race,re­duced from nine to seven run­ners. Dur­ing bet­ting I was stood be­hind the Pick­wick-Be­van joint when Ian called ‘One and a quar­ter each way’.Paul smiled a smile of a man who has just taken a bet of £125 each-way in a seven horse race,then mor­phed into the scowl of a man who finds out that he meant £1.25. Nasty.

SDS was on Mark John­ston’s Bi­colour which was sent off at 9/4 for the heat. There had been a tip from a good source fly­ing around for Eu­genic backed from 6/1 into 9/2. Those back­ers did their money when 8/1 shot Hen­ry­hud­son­bridge proved a head too good at the line. The win­ner had been backed from 14/1 but it wouldn’t have both­ered the books too much as both short ones Eben Dubai and more im­por­tantly for Star Sports Bi­colour were out of the frame.

That was in­ter­est in the spe­cial done but not for Silvestre De Sousa,he had a win­ner in the lucky last on 5/4 Uni­fied. It’s not as bad as you may think for the book­ies ei­ther as he beat Na­dia Prom­ise the 8/13 favourite.

AS­COT 15/07/17

I backed my first loser of the day when I left my coat at home, it was lovely back in Devon.No ex­cuse though,I’ve been in the game long enough to know that was a school­boy er­ror as I stood in a wet suit in pour­ing rain.

I met book­maker Tony Styles on the way into the race­course. He was on the way out,not be­cause the rain had put him off, but to buy a Rac­ing Post. He was quite an­noyed that the con­fec­tionary hut on course had been banned from sell­ing them so he had to traipse back from whence he came to buy one out­side.‘Put it in your mag­a­zine’he im­plored,your wish is my com­mand Tony.

The Sum­mer Mile Fam­ily Race­day at As­cot was never go­ing to be Royal As­cot in at­ten­dance or turnover.Added to that the meet­ing is part of Su­per Satur­day so

there’s a lot of ac­tion to at­tract the punt­ing pound. Luck­ily for those of us who made school­boy er­rors, and I wasn’t alone, the rain had stopped by the open­ing Ruddy Novice Auc­tion Stakes.

I was talk­ing to my old boss Dave Phillips who’d just bought into Tat­ter­salls when just as we fin­ished a lady came up and had £2.50 each way Cu­rios­ity at 9/4, that didn’t auger well for the rest of the day. It was OK though, Dave said he had plenty of change.Sadly the re­sults started badly too.It’s never a great start when the 15/8 favourite wins,as did Cu­rios­ity,but at least the lay­ers could pay out in shirt sleeves. The lady that bet 9/4 the win­ner with Dave Phillips cer­tainly had value but prob­a­bly rued her cau­tion.

With­out wish­ing to turn this fea­ture into like some­thing from the Met Of­fice,it was de­cid­edly hu­mid while bet­ting on the Totescoop6 Her­itage Hand­i­cap Stakes. They might love these big hand­i­caps in bet­ting shops but they aren’t the best punt­ing medium for book­ies on-course. Back­ers tend to trim their al­ready mod­est bets and lay­ers just have to hope what­ever wins is green on the screen.

There were plenty of horses laid very small but Star Sports who I was re­port­ing from needed a mir­a­cle didn’t get one, Danzeno was backed from 6/1 into 4/1 favourite and bolted up.The places were no good ei­ther so add to that a large pay­out queue got an un­wanted treble up.

There did ap­pear to be a plethora of PR types about for a rainy Satur­day. Maybe the hope of an in­vi­ta­tion to the Play­boy Club Lon­don Hand­i­cap Stakes spon­sors box was the lure? Back down on the joint busi­ness was brisk but the most pop­u­lar ques­tion of the day, was as it is so of­ten ‘What’s your min­i­mum bet?’ To­day the an­swer was £2.50 each way or £5 win,they all add up. Favourite back­ers started to think that it was easy just bet­ting the short ones,I wouldn’t say they shov­elled it on but Laraaib was backed steadily from 11/4 into 2/1f and they were right.Su­per Satur­day was shap­ing up to be any­thing but for the book­mak­ers.

You couldn’t re­ally call Mit­tens weak in the Trant En­gi­neer­ing Fil­lies’ Hand­i­cap Stakes rather easy to back so the ring had a glim­mer of hope they might get her beaten. They never had a hope she romped home at 3/1, the fourth win­ning favourite in a row.With the banker of the meet­ing to fol­low book­mak­ers’ met­tle was go­ing to be tested in the next.

My old boss Jack Lynn’s words ‘Don’t Ed­u­cate Them’ were ring­ing in my ears as poor Kyle on the Star Sports joint was asked for £2.50 each way on odds on jolly Mu­takayyef in the Fred Cow­ley MBE Memo­rial Sum­mer Mile Stakes as he pointed out they would be bet­ter off hav­ing it on to win. Still the cus­tomer is al­ways right. Mind you if it wasn’t for the shrap­nel bets there wouldn’t have been a lot fielded as there were no lumps on of­fer.

Which was just as well, 4/7 favourite Mu­takeyyef made it five favourites from five. The most pop­u­lar ques­tion now

be­ing‘Who’d be a book­maker?’The only sav­ing grace be­ing there were no big, let alone mega, pun­ters to bother us.

With three races still to go it’s fair to say the ring were al­ready work­ing to weary au­to­ma­tion as the got to work on the Ruddy Novice Auc­tion Stakes. Only the shrill and slightly tipsy calls of £2.50 each way keep­ing them from tee­ter­ing into re­signed ac­cep­tance that to­day was go­ing to be a bad day. To make things worse busi­ness had slowed to match the lay­ers’ de­meanour. Over on the rails it was the same. Ar­maloft Alex re­ported a punter de­ter­mined enough to suc­cess­fully ne­go­ti­ate the min­i­mum bet from a fiver to £2 only for the punter to try and have it on the only non-run­ner in the race.

One layer ex­hib­ited his frus­tra­tion pric­ing up his board in­clud­ing 9/5 15/1 and 17/1 twice.His near neigh­bour com­ment­ing ‘9/5 should only ever be heard in Coun­try &Western clas­sics,not the bet­ting ring’.

The favourites flip flopped dur­ing bet­ting with Laugh A Minute go­ing off as 15/8 jolly.Then it hap­pened,it was all aca­demic, the books blinked and rubbed their eyes and blinked again just to be sure. A re­sult! 14/1 win­ner Tigre Du Terre put a spring back into their step and al­most smiles on their faces. It’s amaz­ing how quickly the fun of gloom can lift in the bet­ting ring. Now rather than ‘can we go home yet?’ It was ‘bring on the penul­ti­mate!’

Con­sid­er­ing that Star Sports have a rep­u­ta­tion for lay­ing thick bets it was say­ing some­thing to com­ment they ac­tu­ally laid a bet of note £1,400 – £400 Cape Coast.Not an eye would have been blinked if that had been ten­dered at Royal As­cot or Chel­tenham,such was the small na­ture of the mar­ket.To put things in per­spec­tive it was a hedge bet to another bookie which is rare, we should have read the warning sign be­cause be­fore Kyle on the joint could say,‘You’ve got that’ it was 3/1 and favourite with orig­i­nal jolly Bin Bat­tuta very weak, another flip flop and it wasn’t even sunny. Just be­fore the off Kyle got of­fered a £1.50 bet in 10p & 20p pieces and a Tote voucher, both po­litely de­clined.

The mar­ket got it wrong,Bin Bat­tuta won at 7/2, beat­ing 11/4f Cape Coast af­ter a real tus­sle which meant a win­ning race for us de­spite be­ing orig­i­nal jolly.

The one re­sult for the book­mak­ers of the af­ter­noon only stopped the rot but didn’t save the day by any means. The con­clud­ing 7/2 the field GL Events UK Hand­i­cap Stakes wasn’t the ideal race to try and sal­vage the day from a jolly five­fold dis­as­ter. To make things worse af­ter eight races the pun­ters ap­peared rather re­freshed with some wobbling on stilettos in ev­i­dence but gen­er­ally in great hu­mour so all good. Sur­pris­ingly some back­ers had been keep­ing their pow­der dry with some de­cent bets in ev­i­dence, steady £50, £60, £100 etc.

It all added up to a nice few quid on My Dad Syd which we had for four fig­ures at the off.The firm were pray­ing for a re­sult and we got one, well sort of 8/1 Crick­le­wood Green mid­dle-pin was a small mercy and book­mak­ers hap­pily took the crumbs.

I must point out that all the slight rib­bing of small pun­ters should be taken as they are in­tended just that.If a book­maker has the £2.50 each way sign up he’s happy to take the bets. But please don’t bal­ance your wine bot­tle on the hod, ask the bookie what they fancy, ask for the bet then search high and low for your money, de­cide what you are go­ing to back once you get to the joint squint­ing, pro­cras­ti­nat­ing and then ask to look at his Rac­ing Post! When it’s busy the book­ies have a short time to do their busi­ness. If you do none of the above you’ll me most wel­come in the bet­ting ring. Come rac­ing!

Big crowds at As­cot

Peter O’Toole’s new light­board

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