Si­mon Nott spends in­ter­est­ing days at New­ton Ab­bott and As­cot

Si­mon Nott spends time at New­ton Ab­bott and As­cot as the sum­mer weather con­tin­ues

Racing Ahead - - CONTENTS -

NEW­TON ABBOT06/07/18

New­ton Ab­bot has long been one of my favourite tracks, es­pe­cially on a glo­ri­ous sum­mer day like to­day. Para­dox­i­cally I’m guess­ing that the course would pre­fer non-beach weather on days they race given all the hol­i­day mak­ers in the English Riviera at this time of year. Still, sun­shine or not, a very healthy-sized crowd turned up for a well-con­tested 7 race card.

I popped into the Sil­ver Ring af­ter park­ing the car be­fore head­ing into the race­course proper and al­most felt like rins­ing my eye­balls with bleach af­ter see­ing a book­maker’s workman naked from the waist up. Ye Gods, in a for­mer life he was ap­par­ently a jockey, with­out be­ing unkind let’s just say it’s been a while since he did the weight at the bot­tom of the hand­i­cap. The more ma­ture and well-nour­ished body is best kept un­der an am­ply pro­por­tioned smart linen shirt.

The open­ing Bet­fair Sup­port­ing Rac­ing Staff Week Maiden Hur­dle got pun­ters off to a great start when Ben Palling’s Bal­ly­dun Os­car made short work of his op­po­si­tion, jus­ti­fy­ing pro­hib­i­tive odds of 4/9. That’s not such a great start for the lay­ers, but at least it was sunny. Talk­ing of beach weather, it’s any­one’s guess what the old-school book­mak­ers of New­ton Ab­bot 30 or so years ago would have made of the Tat- ter­salls book­ies on show to­day let alone the vi­sion in the Sil­ver Ring.

Sev­eral of them looked as if they just am­bled up from Torquay seafront. The old guard wouldn’t have been seen dead on their joints with­out a suit and tie, what­ever the weather, the only con­ces­sion to the sun be­ing a smart panama hat. Some of the lay­ers to­day were wear­ing shorts, a few even donned flip-flops, not a tie to be seen. Blimey in years gone by not even pun­ters were al­lowed that sort of clob­ber but at least none of them were top­less.

The best-backed horse in the Bet­fair Sup­port­ing Rac­ing Wel­fare Hand­i­cap Hur­dle was Martin and Belinda Keigh­ley’s Mr Mafia, backed from 2/1 into 6/4. Turn­ing for home a vic­tory looked un­likely with one book­maker telling all who would lis­ten that he was tak­ing a few more quid out of it in run­ning on ‘the ma­chine’. The only ad­vice one could give him re­ally is stick to be­ing a bookie. The jolly got up just be­fore the line to de­prive 9/1 Western Sun­rise by half a length.

Reg­u­lar read­ers may re­mem­ber I men­tioned a no­to­ri­ous ‘knocker’ in one of my most re­cent col­umns. One book­maker ap­proached me and asked me ‘which one’ I was re­fer­ring to. Ob­vi­ously for le­gal rea­sons I didn’t want to go into too much de­tail in print as to whom I was re­fer­ring but as­sumed him well- known if not no­to­ri­ous. I was quite taken aback by his term ‘which one’ I thought there was only one. When I in­formed the cu­ri­ous bookie of the name, he replied ‘Oh yes, he was on the short­list’. Crumbs, a short­list, I hope they are all his­toric and more knock­ers don’t still come over the hori­zon like In­di­ans in a cow­boy film when the oth­ers have gone. The game’s too hard these days for that sort of throw­back.

Over at the Jack Be­van (est 1897) joint there was some jol­lity as boss Paul showed me a video clip of his trusty right­hand man Ian do­ing press-ups at New­bury the night be­fore, yes it was that quiet ap­par­ently. Any­one who uses twit­ter will be able to find said video, but for those who don’t, our ‘hero’ strug­gled, and I mean strug­gled to do a mere ten.

OK he’s not a teenager, though watch­ing him bust shapes on the dance­floor at our wed­ding re­cep­tion you’d think he was, add to that he was us­ing bits of card­board to stop his hands get­ting dirty, the shame. He wasn’t up for re­peat­ing the act to­day, pos­si­bly be­cause he was too busy pay­ing out over jol­lies or maybe still aching. Win­ning favourite num­ber three of three races 5/4 Sword Of Fate won the Bet­fair rac­ingstaff Week Novices' Hand­i­cap Chase, the so far good hu­moured sunny dis­po­si­tions of book­ies

was in dan­ger of be­ing with­drawn.

Clearly Ca­pa­ble wasn’t favourite in the hotly con­tested Bet­fair Thank You Rac­ing Staff Sell­ing Hand­i­cap Hur­dle but had been backed into 7/1 in a 6/1 the field heat. You have to feel for the geld­ing’s sup­port­ers as he looked home and hosed jump­ing the last three lengths clear only for 12/1 shot Pet­rify to frighten the life out of the them, clos­ing rapidly close home only for their hearts to be bro­ken when the re­sult of the pho­to­graph was called, beaten a short­head. Nasty.

Not nasty for the book­ies though who were due a change of luck de­spite it be­ing in a race where stakes would have been low. They got it again in the bet fair rac­ing staff week At rac­ing wel­fare Con­di­tional Jock­eys' Hand­i­cap Hur­dle when Nicky Hned­er­son’s 8/1 shot Barkis beat 11/4 favourite Ta­mar­illo Grove into sec­ond place. That re­sult was just as well as the jol­lies won the last two races at 3/1 and 8/11. Who’d be a bookie? Oh well, the sun was shin­ing and at least one of their num­ber couldn’t lose their shirt!

In­ci­den­tally I hear through the grapevine that Colin Tiz­zard will be do­ing a book-sign­ing at New­ton Ab­bot on Au­gust 6 pro­mot­ing his re­cently pub­lished book on Cue Card.

AS­COT 14/07/18

I was at As­cot with the Star Sports team but it was hardly sur­pris­ing that our trip had a dif­fer­ent feel to it than our last at the Royal Meet­ing. An­drew and Lofty didn’t ex­pect big bets from rails agents with phones pressed to their ears, and didn’t get any, but did hope to field at least a grand in the opener but just failed. To be fair to the pun­ters it was an 11/2 the field 20-run­ner Hand­i­cap, so a tough one to kick off.

I was chat­ting to Ge­off Banks, ar­guably Star Sports’ most out­spo­ken critic on so­cial me­dia in re­cent weeks, be­fore the first who pointed out that he’s con­tin­u­ing his ‘Best Odds Guar­an­teed’ pol­icy he aug­mented at the Royal Meet­ing. De­spite the ex­cel­lent of­fer he was slightly per­plexed how few pun­ters ac­tu­ally un­der­stand what it means.

My old boss Jack Lynn used to say ‘don’t ed­u­cate the pun­ters’, of course he was of his time! Any pun­ters who read Star Sports’ brand am­bas­sador Adam Kirby’s blog on-line prior to rac­ing would have been ed­u­cated and noted he con­sid­ered Spring Loaded un­lucky in the Wok­ing­ham. His win­ning the open­ing Bet With As­cot Her­itage Hand­i­cap at 7/1 to­day wouldn’t have been good for many lay­ers but Lofty had read the blog and kept the win­ner nice and green in the book.

Adam Kirby’s in­tended mount in the Fred Cow­ley MBE Me­mo­rial Sum­mer Mile Stakes, Arod, was an ab­sen­tee which left a dead eight run­ners. One punter, an ac­coun­tant surely, darted in for £550 - £200 each way the jolly Beat The Bank. Quite how he felt when it won at that price is any­one’s guess, prob­a­bly wished he hadn’t been quite so cau­tious. The golden rule of gam­bling is ‘be con­sis­tent’ so if that’s how he al­ways bets, fair enough.

‘Don’t ed­u­cate the pun­ters!’ – sorry Jack.

Still the SP did best the Bet With As­cot re­turn but it’s early days in that com­par­i­son.

It’s not known if the 13/8 favourite for the Kelly Group Novice Auc­tion Stakes was named in fond mem­ory of a much­missed and of­ten still talked of book­maker by the name of (Michael) Men­doza but it still got peo­ple of a cer­tain age wax­ing lyri­cal about him again to­day. I’m pretty sure the name­sake

would have been happy to see the jolly get beaten into third be­hind 5/1 win­ner Nurem­berg . The win­ner was a de­cent re­sult in a race where busi­ness from the sun­bathers had picked up.

The Trant Engi­neer­ing Fil­lies' Hand­i­cap wasn’t a bad bet­ting heat, the bot­tle each-way punter proved his con­sis­tency by hav­ing the same each way bet on Es­cape The City at 5/2. Sadly for him his con­sis­tency didn’t ex­tend to back­ing an­other win­ner. This time his bet was un­placed be­ing the other joint­favourite Be­shaayir.

The Play­boy Club Lon­don Hand­i­cap saw a real drop in in­ter­est (maybe ev­ery­one was in­side try­ing to blag their way into the box) fail­ing that the pun­ters ap­peared to have re­tired to the lawns, parched as they were, lawns that is. Ex­tra Elu­sive, the name of the favourite, not re­fer­ring to the pun­ters, was a steady jolly for most of the bet­ting. Busi­ness picked up to­wards the off but wouldn’t have ac­counted for the mas­sive move for Frankie Det­tori’s mount Elwazir backed from 5/2 into 11/8 at the off. Who­ever ‘they’ were be­hind the punt ‘they’ knew, the gam­ble was landed de­spite hang­ing from the cen­tre of the course to the rail. Luck­ily there wasn’t much dam­age done on the Star Sports pitch and no word from the of­fice either.

The penul­ti­mate Wood­ford Re­serve Hand­i­cap was an­other steady but very mod­est-stak­ing race. Brand Am­bas­sador Adam Kirby’s mount Cross Counter was the one the pun­ters wanted to be on. The early 2/1 was trimmed into 13/8 at the off and the only loser in the book.

Turn­ing for home com­men­ta­tor Ian Bartlett glee­fully in­formed us that Cross Counter was still last and be­ing nig­gled, giv­ing the ring hope of get­ting the geld­ing beaten and a day’s wages in the bag. It was not to be though, his equally en­thu­si­as­tic ob­ser­va­tion that the jolly had picked up, ul­ti­mately go­ing on to win quite com­fort­ably, rang in the layer’s ears as they reached into hods for read­ies to pay queues of suc­cess­ful pun­ters.

The con­clud­ing GL Events UK Hand­i­cap saw Frankie Det­tori’s mount Pre­vent pop­u­lar with the pun­ters but went off at 4/1 af­ter be­ing steady at 7/2 for most of the race. The were no lumps but pub­lic money en­sured the book had just one loser, the jolly. It was a close-run thing but brand am­bas­sador Adam Kirby win­ning on 10/1 shot Per­fect Hus­tler com­plet­ing a tre­ble from the bo­gie en­sured a mod­est win­ning day on the pitch.

Next up for the firm, the first big sum­mer fes­ti­val meet­ing of the year, Glo­ri­ous Goodwood. Let’s hope the sea­sonal weather con­tin­ues. The blaz­ers have only just dried out from the drench­ing we got last year.

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