Tales from ring

Si­mon Nott spends time at a crowded As­cot and a pic­turesque Chep­stow

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Si­mon Nott spends time at As­cot and Chep­stow

AS­COT 07/10/17

First im­pres­sions on a dank Oc­to­ber af­ter­noon was what a good crowd ,ru­moured to be about 20,000 and an as­ton­ish­ing num­ber of book­mak­ers, al­most Royal As­cot numbers.

Busi­ness looked to be brisk for the open­ing Hope And Homes For Chil­dren Rous Stakes. The trou­ble was that the money was all one-way traf­fic for John Gos­den’s Waady backed from an early skir­mishes 15/8 into ‘tips on’ 10/11 at the off. The book mak­ers’ met­tle was cer­tainly tested with a one horse book. Those that left the ledger lop­sided were re­warded with the shock 33/1 vic­tory of Ron­ald Har­ris’ Just Glam­orous.To be fair, most of the ring would have set­tled for the 7/1 run­ner-up Sir Robert Che­val but a proper re­sult is al­ways wel­come, es­pe­cially in the first.

I took a wan­der around the ring but held on just l ong enough to see one layer hop off his stool ,ask the pitch in front ‘How much did you get on it?’ then stick his head into the com­puter be­fore the clerk had a chance to an­swer. Some book­ies just can’t help be­ing book­ies!

Fur­ther down the line Paul Gold on one of the Pick­wick-Be­van pitches was cook-a-hoop. He’d had com­puter prob­lems ,had to stand the jolly for much more than he wanted and got lucky and copped the lot. Not so chuffed was the back row firm who had a skin­ner for all they took. “Not chuffed?” I hear you cry, yes dear reader, they had taken the princely sum of £81 on the race, try­ing for their lives. Not only that, they’d given a lift to a friend of the winning trainer who told them the win­ner had been qui­etly fan­cied but didn’t heed the ad­vice. “I only needed to have a tenner on, ”rued the book­maker.Oh well, we all know it’s easy af­ter the race.

There was an­other odds-on shot to con­tend with in the Gi­gaset Cum­ber­land Lodge Stakes where the French raider Waldgeist was backed from 4/5 into 4/7. Not all eyes were on the favourite, though. There had been a whis­per for Nick Williams’ two run­ners at Fontwell in the morn­ing so the cry of “He’s here” was a bit of a sur­prise. Un­less that is of course you don’t have run­ners in Group Three Flat races of­ten and you’ve ever driven from Ge­orge Nymp­ton to Fontwell. He may be the ge­nius of said ham­let and in at­ten­dance but no­body that backed Williams’ charge Flying Tiger at 33/1 was re­warded for their in­vest­ment.

That said I’m sure the yard would have been very happy with fifth with prize money down to sixth. Even hap­pier were the con­nec­tions of the win­ner of the race, Dane­hill Ko­diac ,who em­u­lated the pre­vi­ous race vic­tor by mak­ing all.It did look as if the jolly had come to col­lar him close home but he stuck his neck out to hang on and win gamely.The book­mak­ers were once again over the moon – none more so than Fes­ti­val Rac­ing’s An­drew Smith who is said to have a leg in the beast.

He was seen ac­com­pa­ny­ing the win­ner back, fist raised in cel­e­bra­tion, with his daugh­ter Oliva lead­ing. Happy days for all in­volved.

Af­ter get­ting the first two short ones beaten it might have been ask­ing a bit much for the bookie tre­ble up tak­ing on Blue Point in the John Guest Ben­gough Stakes. Those that did had lit­tle hope as the even money favourite went clear at the dis­tance. Any­one that stuck it up the jolly might have had a glim­mer of hope as the field closed, but, to the im­par­tial observer, the win­ner was never go­ing to be caught, still ¾ of a length up at the judge.

No­body on a stool was go­ing take lib­er­ties with their win­nings in the 18-run­ner totescoop6 Chal­lenge Cup (Her­itage Hand­i­cap).16/1 win­ner Ac­ci­den­tal Agent was an­other wel­come re­sult for the bet­ting ring though not ev­ery­one got their whack. That in­cluded Kyle on the Star Sports pitch who won less than £100 on the race.You don’t have to lay them many times at that price ,and in­ci­den­tally you could still have had 20/1 with him at the off. Come rac­ing, there’s still value to be had.

De­spite the pres­ence of an­other short

one in Eter­nally ,busi­ness seemed to be a lit­tle lighter in totepool Bri­tish EBF Oc­to­ber Stakes.

“Not easy to lay” was the re­port from a few books on the rails.The jolly was 5/6 at time of ask­ing and had eased slightly to 10/11 at the off but the lay­ers seemed re­luc­tant to go evens. A de­ci­sion they might have re­gret­ted in hind­sight for, de­spite adopt­ing the day’s largely suc­cess­ful tac­tics of mak­ing the run­ning, the filly was swamped close home. She ul­ti­mately had to set­tle for third place be­hind 20/1 win­ner One Master. Re­gard­less of po­ten­tially lower field money that was a re­sult in any book­maker’s lan­guage.

With the com­pet­i­tive McGee Light­house Club Hand­i­cap to fin­ish they weren’t go­ing be giv­ing it back what­ever the re­sult, but in the event 11/1 win­ner Eris­simus Max­imus was the cherry on the cake.

CHEP­STOW 14/10/17

This was the first time I’d been to Chep­stow for a while, in fact not since Reve De Sivola made his de­but here which must have been al­most a decade ago. I’d for­got­ten what a lovely course it is.

The jump sea­son opener kicked off with a bonus race, the Reuben Foun­da­tion Sup­ports The Bob Cham­pion Cancer Trust Leg­ends Race. There were plenty of jockey names to get peo­ple jog­ging down mem­ory lane: Jimmy Fox, Paul Leach, Gra­ham Bradley and Sandy May to name a few.

The lat­ter looked to have the race won on Brahms de Clare­mont but had vic­tory snatched from him on the line by com­par­a­tive young buck Sam Thomas on Maoi Chinn Tire, who won by a short head in a thrilling fin­ish. There was bet­ting on the race but it was more about money raised for a great cause.

The totepla­ce­pot ‘Na­tional Hunt’ Novices’Hur­dle wasn’t a great start for the bet­ting ring when Paul Ni­cholls’ Dy­na­mite Dol­lars was backed from 11/4 into 9/4 favourite be­fore winning un­der Sam Twis­ton-Davies .The un­lucky horse in the race was run­ner-up Lostin­trans­la­tion who ran a spir­ited race de­spite a ter­ri­ble mis­take at the busi­ness end, though one judge ob­served that by its ac­tion it needed softer ground any­way. Time will tell.

There were book­mak­ers be­hind the stands in front of the ‘Ok­to­ber­fest’ mar­quee. It might have seemed like a good idea when they picked their places, but when the band started belt­ing out the Father­land’s favourite Oom­pah tunes with the vol­ume seem­ingly at 11 it must have made it very hard to hear a bet. One book­maker con­fided that it wasn’t help­ing that the firm’s clerk was deaf in the ear near­est the joint.

The sec­ond race on the card, was the totescoop6 Mares’ Novices’ Hur­dle. The crowd in Tat­ter­salls and on the rails was de­cent and def­i­nitely punt­ing .They’re not ‘pun­ters’ though ac­cord­ing to a Tatts firm not do­ing an aw­ful lot of big busi­ness though still en­joy­ing a queue of peo­ple hav­ing mod­est bets on.

“Small fish are sweeter” was al­ways the con­so­la­tion com­ment from my old boss Jack Lynn when busi­ness was fid­dly, though to be fair that’s how he liked it. Fer­gal O’Brien’s Os­car Rose was sent off

the 5/2 favourite and there was a mar­ket move for An­nie An­gel backed from 33/1 into 16/1. They fin­ished fourth and fifth re­spec­tively. The race went to If You Say Run at 4/1,land­ing a quick-fire dou­ble for the Ni­cholls & Twis­ton-Davies com­bi­na­tion in the process. The re­sult was bet­ter than it looked for the ring, the win­ner hav­ing been easy 5/2 drift­ing from into 4/1 in the mar­ket.

The old cliché that rac­ing is great lev­eller was high­lighted yet again in the tote­quad­pot Novices’ Chase when Sam Twis­ton-Davies ended up on his back­side when Alcala came down be­tween fences out in the coun­try. That left the hot‘ car­peton’ favourite Finian’s Os­car to saunter home un­chal­lenged. Alcala ap­peared none the worse for his mishap but sadly we were de­prived what was shap­ing up to be a race to savour.

The Paul Fer­gu­son’s Jumpers To Fol­low Hur­dle looked a com­pet­i­tive heat on pa­per with the bet­ting around the 4/1 the field mark for most of the race. Paul Ni­cholls’ Do­los was even­tu­ally sent off at that price but had to set­tle for run­ner-up spot. The book­mak­ers were given a lit­tle re­spite when Evan Williams’ Sil­ver Streak lived up to its name un­der Mitchell Bastyan and shot clear for a 10/1 vic­tory. There had been some 12/1, 100-8 if you’d asked nicely, early, but de­spite the nib­ble lay­ers would have been happy enough with that.

It seemed to be a game of them and us for the book­mak­ers bet­ting on course by the Sil­ver Tro­phy Hand­i­cap Hur­dle. The book­ies by the Oompa tent had re­signed them­selves to lip-read­ing and sign lan­guage, while some of those in Tat­ter­salls were look­ing long­ingly at their brethren on the rails where pun­ters ap­peared to be clam­our­ing to get on. ‘Just Busy’ was the com­ment from rails clerk ‘Q’ Comber cut short as I copped a ‘Don’t talk to my clerk’ with­er­ing look from his vet­eran, well he says, 68-year-old, boss Joe Oliver. There had been a shrewd whis­per for Paul Ni­cholls’ 10/1 shot Peak To Peak in the morn­ing, it had ev­ery chance at the last but at the line where it mat­tered it was the Evan Williams and Mitchell Bastyan com­bi­na­tion and 14/1 shot Court Min­strel which was the toast of the lay­ers. Those book­mak­ers will point it out so I’ll men­tion that the 4/1 jolly Whole­stone snuck into fourth to take the shine off some each-way books.It wasn’t all good news ,one prom­i­nent layer ad­mit­ted tak­ing a ‘size­able’ each-way wa­ger on the win­ner from whom he pre­sumed were con­nec­tions.

The penul­ti­mate on the card, the to­te­ex­acta Hand­i­cap Chase, saw Philip Hobbs’ Rock The Kas­bah backed from 11/4 into 2/1 but not to the tune of any sin­gle lumps apart from one mon­key bet at 9/4 on the rail. That prob­a­bly meant that the job of pay­ing out a whole host of ‘sweet lit­tle fish’ would have been made a whole lot more painful for the lay­ers.The jolly duly obliged but the bet­ting ring would have fan­cied get­ting it beaten for most of the race .Richard John­son cer­tainly earned his fee urg­ing and ca­jol­ing his very game mount to win from 25/1 book­ies re­sult Petrou.‘Q’Comber ad­mit­ted his firm had been ham­mered on the race hav­ing gone as big as a car­pet 3/1 early.

The lucky last Bet­fred Sup­ports Re­spon­si­ble Gam­bling Week Con­di­tional Jockeys’ Hand­i­cap Chase was a race where the book­mak­ers would have a needed a real turn-up to get them the exes and wages on the day un­less they’d al­ready played a blin­der.It wasn’t go­ing to be an easy task with the mar­ket bob­bing around 3/1 the field, though at the off the easy to back favourite Bac­cha­nel was a 7/2 chance.

The green dale rocket was nib­bled from 9/1 into 7/1 but there wasn’t a stand­out move in the race, it was just a case of try and fill the hod. The way 8/1 win­ner Definitly Grey won al­most in a can­ter, it was sur­pris­ing it had been a drifter on the ‘ma­chine’. The book­ies would have at least got their day’s wages on the day.

A busy As­cot

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