TALES FROM RING
Simon Nott spends a couple of days among the bookies at Ascot and Newton Abbot
Simon Nott spends interesting days at Ascot and Newton Abbot
There had been some fun and games in the betting ring on Friday and such was the mirth one hapless character was still getting some stick on Saturday. Regular readers of this column would have no doubt heard of Jack Bevan and Co (est 1897) and their long-standing right hand man Ian,otherwise known as‘Ivor Biggun’ on special occasions, that is until the Fun Police on-course decided that the name was rather misleading.
Ian was the butt of some ribbing today, and with good reason.Most men that work for bookmakers take pride that they can spot a forgery when they are handed one and that they could even do so blindfolded given that the paper is often the giveaway.Having said that I have to admit that when I was flogging the initial run of my book Skint Mob on course I managed to land myself with a moody score; to make things worse the book was only a tenner so the crafty so and so got a tenner change as well as a free book.In my defence,on that occasion even the lady in the bank didn’t spot it as I proudly handed over my literary earnings, it was the machine they put the money through these days that copped it. The worst part of that tale is, I only sold the books to bookies!
In Ian’s defence he didn’t have the machine, but neither did he have any excuse or sympathy, not only was the moody score he was offered and accepted not even the same shade as a real one it had ‘FAKE’ written in marker pen right across the whole thing.When it was suggested that Ian got it as part of his wages the look on boss Paul’s face was ‘Wages?’
Once racing got underway our antihero was getting stuck into the Festival of Food andWineWeekend punters the best he could trying to make amends. He should really know that the betting ring is far less forgiving for such unprofessionalism. Betting on the opener, a neighbouring bookmaker came up to him for a bet which he called, then looked aghast as two little more than photocopied scores were lobbed into the hod accompanied by a great deal of laughter.Poor Ian – anyone with any snide notes, don’t bother,he won’t be falling for it again,well at least not when they have‘FAKE’written across the flipping things.
There was possibly a red race in the commentary box in the opening Sodexo British EBF Novice Stakes when the caller, who I won’t name, pretty much called the Jamie Spencer ridden Court Of Justice the winner only for Fajjaj to get back up under the judge’s nose under Josephine Gordon. There must have been some cursing around the country as cups were snatched from lips, the runner-up had been backed from 9/2 into 2/1 favourite, quite a gamble on a Saturday.The winner though only 3/1 was weak on course so not bad for the layers.
I made the mistake of going back to a still slightly sensitive Bevan joint to suggest that their luck had turned, then I spotted a two pence piece on the floor and reached down to pick it up and chuck it in with the smash.‘Noooooo,’shouted Paul,a horrified look on his face, adding ‘Leave it there, it’s bad luck to pick it up,we haven’t touched it all weekend’.Needless to say I dropped it rather quickly and sauntered elsewhere.
Things didn’t go the way of the bookies in the second heat, the Lavazza Fillies' Novice Stakes.I don’t suppose me picking up tuppence could really have been the reason Jamie Spencer made amends of sorts by riding 4/7 favourite Soliloquy to victory in the Lavazza Fillies’ Novice Stakes. He only won by half a length but that was enough to put the layers on the back foot, but with six races to go there was still plenty of time for them to make a comeback.
10/1 shot Remarkable winning the Cunard Handicap beating the 6/1 favourite into second might look OK but the winner was one of the better fancied in the race. It was a similar story when 6/1 Amabilis made mincemeat of the 11/4 jolly Havre De Paix in the Ritz Club EBF
‘Breeders Series’ Fillies' Handicap, close but no cigar,the layers were looking for a decent result to get them in front especially as business in the last couple of races of an eight race card is notoriously poor. They didn’t have to wait long, Duke Of Bronte’s 16/1 success in the Appletiser Stakes (Heritage Handicap) was a welcome winning race for the books. Of course, bookmakers being bookmakers, they bet 9/2 the field so it wasn’t as great a result as it might look.
There was a bit of unexpected excitement prior to the Sodexo British EBF Novice Stakes though it was meteorological rather than equine. The sky turned black then Ascot was shuddering under crashes of thunder and flashes of lightning. Those flashes were a little too close for comfort, so much so that racing was delayed while the stalls were removed for fear of conducting the next flash. Punters that braved the rain and electricity pretty much backed Dream Warrior to the exception of most else,Star Sports reporting taking a sodden even monkey on the back row, albeit the business end.
The stalls safely away from the equine stars,brave men those stalls handlers,the race was started by flag.The cheers went up from the umbrella-clutching bookies told the story, the jolly was beaten. If you listened hard enough you might have heard a royal roar go up from Windsor Castle too as the Queen’s 7/1 shot Elector won the race. A few hardly souls stepped out into the rain to see if there was a regal fist in the air in the Royal Box,wrong meeting sadly, but otherwise it surely would have been.
Jordon Sport was sent off the 11/4 favourite in the Chapel Down Handicap, but it was 6/1 Ice Lord that proved victorious. Credit must be given to jockey Hollie Doyle who despite being hampered at the start and detached early still manged to win going away over the 6f.Still not a great result for the bookies but at least the favourite didn’t win.
Hollie was the toast of her backers again in the concluding Superstars Handicap when she piloted 9/2 shot Pettochside to victory over the minimum trip. She was third-in so possibly a small winner for the books, sadly the storm would have affected the field money a bit but it was the Queen’s horse winning the sixth than ensured most layers would have been going home damp,but in front.
NEWTON ABBOT 11/09/17
It was glorious down at Newton Abbot, an ideal way to spend a Monday. I was down there bright and early as I had the pleasure of interviewing one of the nicest men in racing, commentator Richard Hoiles before racing.It was the second excellent day I’d had at the racecourse,the previous week I’d spent the day with Clerk of the Course Jason Loosemore seeing what goes on behind the scenes. When you appreciate that the course is being walked at 5.45am and rails positioned before a hearty breakfast for an evening meeting,it’s not just a job it’s also a labour of love.
The day didn’t start as early or as well for the layers. Coole Cody was backed from 11/8 into 10/11 before trotting up under
Harry Cobden in the opener. With only just the six races on the card anyone that got in too deep was going to have to get stuck in to get it back. I made sure not to pick up any coins when checking that Ian hadn’t taken any more moody money – he hadn’t.Luckily for the books that did their dough in the first the crowd was an excellent one. John Henwood and Son on the rails seemed happy with the business but, of course, not the result.
At first glance Jeremy Scott’s Moorlands Jack winning the Visit attheraces.com Handicap Chase at 6/1 was a fair result but then the stories started to filter through that every shrewd player on the track was on from odds of around 10/1 down, not so good, but of course getting the 7/2 favourite always eases that sort of blow. Brodie Hampson provided the bookmakers with the unquestionable result in theVisit attheraces.com Handicap Chase when she partnered Mighty Leader to a surprise 14/1 win in the eight horse race.“She was backed from 16/1,” protested one bookmaker – as he counted his winnings I might add.
The ring got another favourite beaten in the Racing Partnership TRP Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Chase when 15/8 into 11/8 Kapricorne couldn’t justify the support behind 3/1 winner Abbeygrey. That was victory for the Evan Williams & Mitchell Bastyan combination,also possi- bly a small winner for the layers too.
It was like Groundhog Day, or rather race in the penultimate Newton Abbot Racecourse On Facebook Selling Hurdle when the same combination scored at the same price on Bonobo. Quadriller had been sent off the 8/11 jolly and finished stone last,the bookies allowed themselves a smile. They weren’t so happy after the concluding SIS Novices' Handicap Hurdle when Pengo’s Boy landed a nice little 10/3 into 5/2 touch. Don’t feel too sorry for the bookmakers though, 7/4 favourite Hongkong Adventure had been backed from 2/1 so it wasn’t all one way traffic.
NEWTON ABBOT 22/09/17
Here’s a tale of woe, I was on my way to Newton Abbot for another day out at my favourite course when just as I was overtaking out in the overtaking lane my engine and car were suddenly engulfed with a plume of black smoke.Luckily I was able to make my way safely across to the hard shoulder without too much ado and sat in the bushes awaiting the AA. It was particularly gutting because I’d been tipped two horses, Matt’s Legacy in the Devondale Electrical Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle and Azure Fly in the At The Races Sky 415 Handicap Chase.
I texted my mate Armaloft Alex the info and he replied that he had a leg in the Nick Williams (the genius of George Nympton) trained Cabernet D’alene in the former race but ‘Don’t think we’ll be much competition’.
By the time I was eventually rescued and my car diagnosed with a blown head gasket at best I was keen to see if either of the tips had eased my impending financial embarrassment. The first one finished last while Cabernet D’alene won at 16/1 under Lizzie Kelly. Of course I texted Armaloft to congratulate him, and he almost apologetically replied, ‘Totally unexpected, Nick said to me ‘I think I’ve brought the wrong horse!’ Let’s hope not. To end on a personal plus note, Azure Fly won backed from 9/4 into 13/8, my modest punt may not pay for the car repairs but we’re back in the game!
just as I was overtaking my engine and car were suddenly engulfed with a plume of black smoke