SIMON NOTT: 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.
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 blog’ he implored, your wish is my command Tony.
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 making a little video clip with one of my old bosses Dave Phillips for the ‘Simon Nott Meets The Ring’ (CLICK HERE) 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.
Totescoop6 Heritage Handicap Stakes
Without wishing to turn this blog into like something from the Met Office, it was decidedly humid betting on the next. 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.
We laid plenty of horses very small but needed a miracle. We didn’t get one, Danzeno was 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 and we got an unwanted treble up.
Playboy Club London Handicap Stakes
There did appear to be a plethora of PR types about for a rainy Saturday. Maybe the hope of an invitation to the this race’s sponsor’s 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.
Trant Engineering Fillies’ Handicap Stakes
You couldn’t really call Mittens weak, 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.
Fred Cowley MBE Memorial Summer Mile Stakes
My old boss Jack Lynn’s words ‘Don’t Educate Them’ were ringing in my ears as poor Kyle was asked for £2.50 each way on odds on jolly Mutakayyef and 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. It must be Ben that attracts them.
Ruddy Novice Auction Stakes
With three races still to go it’s fair to say the ring were already working to weary automation. 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 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!’
Woodford Reserve Handicap Stakes
We actually laid a bet of note £1,400 – £400 Cape Coast, OK it was a hedge bet to another bookie which is rare, we should have read the warning sign because before Kyle 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.
GL Events UK Handicap Stakes
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 handicap wasn’t the ideal race to try and and salvage the day from a jolly five fold 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. Kyle was praying for a result and we got one. 8/1 Cricklewood Green got us the money! Aye Aye we’ll be back in a fortnight.
Simon Nott is author of Skint Mob!: Tales from the Betting Ring