EXETER SUNDAY: SIMON NOTT reports from Exeter – ‘Gentleman’s Raceday’ and a best turned out award for racegoers which our intrepid reporter went all out trying to win. On the track it was another good day for David Pipe but how did the on course bookies get on?
There were plenty of Gents that made the effort for ‘Gentleman’s Raceday’ on a glorious afternoon at Exeter. There were roving photographers taking photos of chaps done up in their finest clobber with excellent prizes on offer. Winners to be notified, I wore my favourite salmon corduroys but at the time of writing no congratulations message have arrived. As is often the case with the course their advertising for the meeting had been extensive and had been rewarded. The day was in support of the armed forces, plenty of whom were in evidence.
Also, in evidence was one bookmaker that is a rare visitor this far south, our old mate ‘Pinno’, he’d also made the effort looking resplendent in a jumper not for the bashful.
2:10 Rifleman’s Novices’ Selling Hurdle
The betting on the opener took place with the betting ring bathed in warm sunshine. Punters that took heed of David Pipe’s purple patch, even brighter than Pinno’s pullover, were rewarded, albeit modestly when the yard’s 5/6 favourite Malangen made short work of the opposition and started the day badly for the bookies.
2:40 GG Tips Novices’ Handicap Hurdle
I spotted Stephen Little in the betting ring prior to the next, he told me that as it was a concessions day for one of the plethora of metal badges dangling from his bins, he thought he might as well come along. I didn’t see him diving in to back anything in what was a steady market. A couple of decades ago he’d have been stood in the ring dressed in a mink coat taking on all-comers. There were a couple of moves in the betting market, one was for Telson Barley backed from 16/1 into 8/1 and another for Eur Gone West supported from 9/1 into 7/1. Those who latched on to the latter and David Pipe’s rich run of form copped. The unusual colours donned by Tom Scudamore aboard the gelding passed the winning post 10 lengths clear of the rest, landing a double for David Pipe and getting some back for the bookies.
3:15 Follow ggcouk On Twitter Handicap Hurdle
David Pipe didn’t have a runner in the next so it was left for someone else to win the race. A well-known Westcountry bookie told me that he’d heard Rod Millman’s Champagne Champ was fancied, the gelding was backed from 9/2 into 4/1. Never take tips off bookies is a lesson worth learning. Whoever told Joe might have been passing on the info in good faith, but the horse never looked like getting involved. Racegoers were treated to a cracking finish though, Lucy Gardner getting her Susan Gardner trained mount, 8/1 Trans Express, home by half a length from 20/1 shot Sir Ivan. Lucy lost her claim in the process so congratulations to her.
3:45 GG Fast Results Chase (Novices’ Limited Handicap)
Only six went to post for the next. As the bookies got to work taking the punters on, I heard a heart-warming story from the betting ring. Ian of Jack Bevan and Co (Est 1897) got wind that well-respected betting ring manager Andrew Collins was going on holiday to warmer climes. Whilst perusing the bargains at his local car boot sale Ian spotted a pair of second-hand flip-flops. After some haggling the footwear was secured for the princely price of 37p (knocked down from 50p). Andrew appeared overwhelmed by the gift, ‘It’s the thought not the price that matters’ was the comment from the evidently touched misty-eyed official. The race itself was no less exciting, Harry Cobden on 7/2 Saintemilion looked to have the measure of Lizzie Kelly on 2/1 favourite Diable De Sivola, then the tables appeared to turn only for Harry Cobden’s mount to forge a length clear on the run-in. Another jolly beaten for the bookies.
4:20 GG Racing Podcast Handicap Chase
In what was arguably the trickiest looking race on the card things didn’t go well for joint-favourite backers. Richard Johnson and mount For Good Measure came down at the first then other 4/1 shot Fortunate George ran no sort of race and was pulled up. It wasn’t all bad news for the punters though, Coningsby had been well-backed from 7/1 into 5/1 and sloshed in under Stan Sheppard.
4:55 gg.co.uk Grand National Tips Handicap Chase
The betting ring looked noticeably thinner prior to the penultimate. Muttley of the Jim Clarke firm was already packing up to go home. Apparently, business in the second row had been slow. He pointed to the big screen and bemoaned the fact that there had been continuous adverts on it for BHA on-line ‘Betting Partners’ but none for the on-course bookies who shell out a marketing fee. Passed on as requested Muttley who also added that he had to be back for the milking too. Back to the bookies that had continued to bet rather than prioritise providing the nation’s diary products the punters wanted to be on the favourite Ericas Lad 13/8 into 5/4. Bob on the Simon James rails pitch was keen to lay James Best’s mount suggesting that he’d be able to hedge in running pointing out that the gelding had been 50/1 during the race before winning last time out. All academic as it turned out, proving no match for 7/2 winner Tudors Treasure.
5:25 Armed Forces Ten Tors Standard Open NH Flat Race
I was quietly gutted when the top 5 best-dressed men were lined up prior to the lucky last, I wasn’t included, pinkish strides tweed and tie combo evidently not to the taste of the judges. Oh well, you can’t win them all, but you can win most of them. David Pipe was on a treble if Story Of Friends won the last. It wasn’t an easy ask though with Philip Hobbs’ Pileon and Paul Nicholls’ Southfield Harvest jostling at the head of the market. Commentator Ian Bartlett was seen parking his car in pole position for a quick getaway prior to the race so must have been mortified when Gastara got lose and started charging the wrong way around Haldon Hill. The escapee was withdrawn and off they set. Sadly, for those hoping of a Pipe treble Richard Johnson and Pileon spoilt the party. The winner was returned the 2/1 favourite so not a shock to most backers though. That’s your lot. Next stop Aintree.
Simon Nott is author of:
Skint Mob! Tales from the Betting Ring