Tales from ring

Si­mon Nott watches the book­ies en­dure a wash-out with oc­ca­sional out­breaks of sun

Racing Ahead - - CONTENTS -

Si­mon Nott spends time at rain-swept Chel­tenham


What a glo­ri­ous day to be in the bet­ting ring. The open­ing Markel In­sur­ance Am­a­teur Rid­ers’ Hand­i­cap Chase was a very quiet bet­ting heat to open with at around 5/1 the field.

There was un­likely to be a mon­ster bet and there wasn’t, but Star Sports did man­age to lay a £10,000 – £100 each-way An­gus Mi­lan early on, they never had a worry. David Pipe’s What A Mo­ment won the race at 11/1 which would have been a fair start for the book­ies in the ring that man­aged to take any money.

The Fairlight Books Novices’ Hand­i­cap Hur­dle was another tricky look­ing heat and one you’d ex­cuse the pun­ters for stand­ing back from.How­ever,they didn’t, back­ing the favourite Magic Dancer which was cut from 4/1 into 7/2 then into 10/3 at the off though there was still 7/2 to be had in the ring if you looked around. Come rac­ing.The re­sult, the jolly first the rest nowhere, which en­sured the bet­ting ring was al­ready on the back foot on the day.

De­spite only nine go­ing to post for the BetVic­tor Hand­i­cap Steeple Chase it was another com­pet­i­tive bet­ting race with Ex­i­tas hov­er­ing around 3/1 at the top of the mar­ket. There was some light-hearted ban­ter when ITV Rac­ing’s Matt Chap­man vis­ited the Star Sports joint talk­ing to their boss Ben Keith, no doubt for fash­ion ad­vice,though I couldn’t re­ally hear.Then the punt­ing got go­ing. Kap­stadt de­posed Ex­i­tas briefly as favourite when money came in, in­clud­ing a £1,500 bet at 7/2 but at the off the lat­ter had won that par­tic­u­lar bat­tle go­ing off at a car­pet 3/1. Where it re­ally mat­tered,though,in the race,nei­ther of the mar­ket leaders were a match for 13/2 win­ner Doit­forthevil­lage, who also did it for the book­mak­ers who were over the moon just to get the front two beaten.

In the next Star Sports laid £100,000 – £25,000 Move­with­thetimes to a bloke on a tele­phone. Jump­ing the last it looked like the firm were about to kiss that £100k good­bye. Then it hap­pened – Finian’s Os­car found turbo boost and shot clear to win go­ing away at 10/11 cost­ing most of the ring plenty.

There was very lit­tle of in­ter­est from the pun­ters for most of the Glen­far­clas Cross Coun­try Hand­i­cap Steeplechase. Then sud­denly there was a great deal of in­ter­est when a punter had £12,500 on Au­vergnat at 2/1, once again with Star Sports, and that was just as the starter’s flag was drop­ping. The 14/1 win­ner Kingswell The­atre was a crack­ing re­sult for all the bet­ting ring but once again field money was re­ported to be very poor.

The con­clud­ing Bal­ly­more Novices Hur­dle set to go off at 3.35pm was an early bath af­ter the open­ing day. The one the pun­ters wanted to be on to pay for their post-rac­ing pint and ex­penses was Calett Mad,backed from a morn­ing 9/2 into an at the off 15/8 but the jolly was beaten at the turn for home.There was a crack­ing fin­ish with 9/2 win­ner On The Blind­side proba- bly a small cop for most of the book­ies on the day, but with ex­penses as they are, break­ing even on the day would prob­a­bly have been the best most could have hoped for.


What a dif­fer­ence in the weather,in­ces­sant rain. The fea­ture of the open­ing JCB Tri­umph Trial was the weak­ness of orig­i­nal favourite Gum­bal which drifted alarm­ingly from an open­ing 4/6 to 5/4 at the off. Even more alarm­ing for the ring was the re­lent­less del­uge of money for Ap­ples Shakira from 9/4 into even money favourite.What more can be said but the mar­ket knew. In the post-race in­ter­view win­ning trainer Nicky Hen­der­son said that they hadn’t known what to ex­pect. Ev­i­dently some­one knew more than him,a mas­sive gam­ble was landed when the filly pow­ered up the hill to vic­tory.

Just three went to post for the mal­lard­jew­ellers.com Novices’Steeplechase.The weather seemed to dampen the spir­its of the on-course pun­ters who didn’t re­ally get in­volved.The spon­sors prob­a­bly felt a bit the same with just the trio run­ning for their money.

Things livened up a lit­tle when sup­port came in for the jolly Bal­ly­op­tic and the price tum­bled to 10/11.It looked for much of the race that the gam­ble was go­ing to make all and be landed but Bry­ony Frost on 4/1 Black Cor­ton had other ideas and took the race by the scruff of the neck.The jolly did look to be fight­ing back but a

hor­licks at the last en­sured the money stayed with the good guys. That is apart from all those scores the books gave back to those shrewdies who backed the ‘out­sider of three’.

There was more for the pun­ters to get stuck into for the BetVic­tor.com Hand­i­cap Steeple Chase.The one they wanted to be on was Minella Rocco. The geld­ing ‘bounced’ near the off and was beaten a long way out and Per­fect Can­di­date was an aptly named win­ner for the bet­ting ring though they were re­ally look­ing for an ab­so­lute re­sult to get them prop­erly into the green for the meet­ing.

Next up was the fea­ture BetVic­tor Gold Cup.De­spite the still mis­er­able conditions the pun­ters did make the ef­fort to come out of wher­ever they were that was dryer and warmer and have a bet. Busi­ness was brisk which was great news be­cause Splash Of Ginge win­ning at 25/1 was a blind­ing re­sult for the ring.The poor pun­ters didn’t even get the final plea­sure of shred­ding their los­ing tick­ets, they were al­ready pa­pier-mâché. All of a sud­den, the ring was buoy­ant and it had noth­ing to do with all the ex­cess wa­ter.

Talk about ups and downs,things took a plum­met in the Reg­u­la­tory Fi­nance So­lu­tions Hand­i­cap Hur­dle.Thomas Camp­bell was the sub­ject of some lumps off course. At the last it looked a race, at the line an ab­so­lute disas­ter,Thomas won. That bet­ting ring buoy­ancy was now in need of arm­bands.

The rain teemed down mer­ci­lessly dur­ing bet­ting on the Martin & Co Jewellers Hand­i­cap Chase. It was happy days again on course when 25/1 shot Coole Cody showed them a clean set of hooves to vic­tory.

The con­clud­ing The Ex­pe­ri­ence The The­atre At The Fes­ti­val Mares’ Stan­dard Open Na­tional Hunt Flat Race was one final push for both pun­ters and bet­ting ring. Na­tional Hunt sup­port­ers of both ilk are a hardy bunch so bet­ting was spir­ited if soggy. The mar­ket cen­tred around Gragee­lagh Girl and Posh Tr­ish at 5/2 each of two, Posh Tr­ish win­ning was a nasty end to the day.


The weather was back to sun­shine, the read­ies and clob­ber dried out, so all was well in the ring. Hav­ing said that, there were sev­eral firms who had de­cided to head to Fontwell or give Sun­day a swerve al­to­gether.Go­ing by turnover in the open­ing Vel­court Con­di­tional Jock­eys’ Hand­i­cap Hur­dle they weren’t bad judges. Busi­ness was timid to say the least.There ap­peared to have been a whole­sale gam­ble on Evan Wil­liams’Wild Magic in

the morn­ing from 8/1 into 7/2.That move no doubt in­flu­enced the drift on orig­i­nal jolly Mel­rose Boy which went off at 11/4 and went on to win as it liked, the gam­ble un­placed.The books had lit­tle op­tion but to chase the favourite out so it cost them plenty. A bad start.

A story did reach me be­tween races that is typ­i­cal‘book­maker’.A bookie who shall re­main name­less re­ceived a phone call to say their el­derly mother had fallen, thank­fully un­hurt.The layer was of course re­lieved but also a lit­tle an­noyed, “It’s Chel­tenham, she could have at least waited un­til af­ter the last or bet­ter still, to­mor­row!”

Just three ran in the Rac­ing Post Arkle Tro­phy Trial Novices Steeplechase de­spite there be­ing £1,565 prize money on of­fer for fourth. Once again busi­ness was mod­est, the 6/4 sec­ond favourite North Hill Harvey won the race with the jolly run­ning on from an im­pos­si­ble po­si­tion to snatch sec­ond up the hill. You may not think that mat­tered much,but think again. Mar­tyn of Le­ices­ter found time to come and moan about a veteran floor­man named Ricky. That’s now ‘Ricky the Rac­ereader’ with Mar­tyn. Ac­cord­ing to he of Le­ices­ter it was Ricky’s fault that he lost £1,400 on the sec­ond race. “He told me the jolly was nowhere, I started count­ing the money then it sprouted wings and got up to be sec­ond and land the bo­gie fore­cast.” Or words to that ef­fect.Luck­ily Ricky was else­where at the time so bliss­fully un­aware of the weight of blame on his shoul­ders.

Of the five that went to post in the Shloer Steeple Chase it was Fox Nor­ton that was sent off jolly. It was quite hu­mor­ous to see a trio of pos­si­bly well-re­freshed lads run­ning around with £600 beg­ging evens while the 5/6 was splin­ter­ing into 4/5 all around them. That price looked ex­cep­tional value a few min­utes later as Colin Tiz­zard’s hot­pot romped in un­chal­lenged. At least there was no book­maker any­where curs­ing “I should have laid those lads evens”.

The Uni­bet Great­wood Hur­dle was of course a com­pet­i­tive bet­ting heat. Sadly, rather than rel­ish the chal­lenge the pun­ters ap­peared to zip their pock­ets though there was some sup­port for Lon­don Prize into 9/2.There was also a bit of a move for The New One. A mem­ber of staff jumped off the stool and availed him­self of the 8/1 with the frac­tions each-way with benev­o­lent Barry of the Pinno firm.“I’ve tucked up the Tash” he joy­ously pro­claimed, ticket wav­ing in the air. Sadly-pre­ma­ture as it turned out,El­gin won the race at 10/1,The New One?Where ev­ery‘clever’each-way fin­ishes, fourth. The race was badly marred with the sub­se­quent news that Lon­don Prize didn’t sur­vive its fall out in the coun­try.

The run­ning of the SkyBet Supreme Trial Novices’ Hur­dle was de­layed due to low sun. Nicky Hen­der­son’s Dame De Com­pag­nie was ini­tially un­easy in the mar­ket drift­ing to 11/8 but that price dropped with the tem­per­a­ture and the sun, even­tu­ally go­ing off at tips-on 10/11. How­ever, it wasn’t the favourite but Slate House that had his back­ers rais­ing the roof win­ning at 5/2,while the jolly fin­ished stone last.

The con­clud­ing race of the meet­ing,the High Sher­iff Of Glouces­ter­shire’s Stan­dard Open Na­tional Hunt Flat Race, was a com­pet­i­tive bet­ting heat with sev­eral horses backed but to very mod­est stakes. Vo­car­ium was the one com­bined weight of money saw shorten from 7/2 into 11/4 but it was 4/1 chance Crook’s Peak that won the race de­light­ing those who had been hol­ler­ing ‘Go on Dickie’ and not so much the book­mak­ers pay­ing out with slightly numbed fin­gers. Let’s do it all again in De­cem­ber.

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