CHELTENHAM SUNDAY: Simon Nott reports from the final day of the November Meeting at Cheltenham direct from the Star Sports pitch. It’s PUNTERS 1 BOOKIES 1 after the first to days and plenty to play for on Sunday.
The day started with a simulated World War One dogfight over Prestbury Park, not something you see every day. You could say the same about Ben too, a Sunday non-runner. The firm were skeleton staffed in Tattersalls with just Jamie and Michelle working. Lofty and the seniors had relocated to the upper rail so Star Sports doubled up in Tatts.
Working in the betting ring is a bit like fishing, you never know what you’re going to land. Certainly nobody expected a £2000 cash punter to be the first to approach the joint, especially for one in the second race, that was Dynamite Dollars in that book in double-quick time.
1:15 Steve And Sue Ibberson Happy Retirement Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle
The book in the first race wasn’t looking quite so thick. You could hardly blame the punters for not steaming in with broad shoulders though, it was a tricky looking heat to kick off with. I had a real treat prior to them jumping off. One of my #BettingPeople interviewees Peter Freeman came over to say hello. If you didn’t watch Peter’s interview and hear his amazing story, then please do watch CLICK HERE
As they set off for the first, initial fears of poor business proved founded, field money was very light. The firm had several losers, one for more than we’d taken, the cardinal sin in some quarters.
The bogie was 7/1 winner Palmers Hill, not an ideal start but with the field money so poor it was almost a bullet dodged.
1:50 Racing Post Arkle Trophy Trial Novices’ Chase (Grade 2)
The marching bands and WW1 commemorative troops lifted spirts between races. We already had £2000 in the bag when betting started so a more exciting race was ensured than the previous.
Betting continued to be desperately slow so no chance of betting up to the two grand. The saving grace was Dynamite Dollars was friendless going off at 3/1. The ‘no hedging’ policy paid off as Lalor flew home at 11/2 with the bogie in second. The winner had been 15/2 early but needless to say a great result for Star’s book.
2:25 Shloer Chase (Grade 2) (Registered As The Cheltenham Chase)
Business didn’t improve for the next, the majority of bets painfully small, those Westcountry bookmakers that ducked today to bet at the opening point to point meeting at the old racecourse Buckfastleigh appeared to have chosen shrewdly. A punter came in fairly late on for £2000 – £1600 the favourite Sceau Royal which dwarfed the book. The firm was desperate for Simply Red to defy its 28/1 price and chin the jolly, upsides over last but in the end the punters got it right, the favourite won quite comfortably. In one hand and out the other.
3:00 Unibet Greatwood Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3)
At 9/2 the field it was always going to be hard to fill the hod and so it proved with less than a grand in the hod at the off and five losers in the book.
Business was a far cry from when Julie Williams’ dad Freddie was doing battle next door.
20/1 winner Nietzsche was a winner in the ledger but third placed Old Guard slaughtered it on the each-way book so taken into account won a round of drinks at a very reasonably priced pub on the race.
3:30 Sky Bet Supreme Trial Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 2)
Seddon hovered around evens for much of the penultimate, at that price there was the potential for a day-ruining lump so Jamie erred on the side of caution, a shade of odds-on on Star’s board.
The trouble is, when ducking a jolly, is that when you do decide to row in with the evens the danger is no takers. Even worse when a shrewdie comes in with a bottle at 5/1 Elixir De Nutz in the hole making it the worst in a poor book and it wins with the jolly unsighted.
4:00 High Sheriff Of Gloucestershire And Racing Remember Standard Open NH Flat Race (Listed)
The concluding bumper was a steady betting heat, the punters were keen on Fergal O’Brien’s Ask Dillon 9/1 into 5/1, jolly Mcfabulous was also popular backed from 15/8 into 13/8, both were beaten so it was annoying that 3/1 Master Debonair was a small loser in what was admittedly poor book. Lofty had better news from the rails pitch which had enjoyed better luck so the firm ended the meeting with a fairly decent, if modest, winning Sunday. Aye Aye!
Thanks for reading, we’ll be back here in December.
Simon Nott is author of:
Skint Mob! Tales from the Betting Ring