SIMON NOTT: Swings, Roundabouts and Handouts
It happens quite frequently, something unlucky happens in a race, or quite often when some mulish beast refuses to even race. Rather than punters taking it like a betting person should (let’s not ruffle any gender feathers), that is squarely on the chin. Instead many immediately head for social media. If their prayers are answered benevolent bookmakers will raise saint-like on twitter and declare to all that they will, depending on the incident, refund punters or pay over the runner-up. Why?
Because what happened was ‘so unfair’.
It’s very rarely that all bookmakers in the village decide to become saintly, it would be cynical to suggest that those layers where bad luck befell the absolute bogie thought they’d give that act of kindness a swerve. Likewise, if punters left a firm out of the unlucky horse it would be fair to assume the financial department might advise join in for some cheap goodwill. There would be payback, no doubt many punters that benefitted from that charity and given the choice in the future between two bookmakers offering identical prices they’d bet with the one that gave them the bung, were they offering 10/1 and 12/1 though, I’m not so sure.
Having said this is not a cynical blog it would also be quite naive to think that should the odds-on favourite whip around and plant itself as the starter let them go in the Champion Hurdle those previously charitable bookies would repeat the precedent they set in the past. The trouble is that punters start to feel entitled. We’ve all witnessed it, something unlucky happens and they are on twitter in a flash, begging cap in hand, no self-respect.
It’s a tough old game gambling on horses, it always has been. It’s like the Gambling Gods actually do exist and they are made up of disgruntled mug punters of old that did their dough in style in their time on Earth. As reward for losing all their lives stoically they get to dish out revenge on the mortals that remain by playing sadistic but fun little games. Everyone who bets has been a victim of their humour and foibles from time to time. When your luck is out it’s out, your selections are more likely to fall at the last when clear if your last fiver is on it than when you’re enjoying a purple patch. In fact those Gambling Gods get full marks for imagination when your luck really is out, you couldn’t make half of it up. Mind you, purple patch dwellers had better enjoy their time in the glow, those deities of fortune are only giving you enough shag-pile for a little bit of mauve, they’ll hit you with the threadbare soon enough.
So come on, enough of the mollycoddling, we’re all adults gambling responsibly, punters and bookies. Let’s take the rough with the smooth, accept bad luck means you lose and good luck means you win. Rules are rules and if you are ruing your misfortune don’t look for a handout but just hope that your swing becomes a roundabout, sooner rather than later.
Simon Nott is author of Skint Mob!: Tales from the Betting Ring