AUTHOR: Star Sports Content


I’ll start by being a little self-indulgent, it’s great to be back on course and in the betting ring.

That done, what a glorious way to be back too, a crisp, clear day at Cheltenham racecourse, what better setting for a much anticipated first day of three on the turf. The Star Sports’ teams were raring to go. Working for the firm today were ‘Inlike’ Flynn, here for one day only, Hannah and Ricky on the top rail and Steve head of on-course, Tony and raider Nick on pitch three in Tattersalls.

Where’s Ben Keith you may ask?

Well, I’m not sure but I’m guessing that after basking in the Melbourne sunshine, today’s bracing conditions would be a shock to the system so soon after his return.

1:10 – Lycetts Insurance Brokers Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle (Class 3) (3YO plus) 2m 5f

This first race appeared too hard for the punters. The stakes were small but there were plenty of bets. Both the rails and Tatts pitches took £1900 in books littered with small losers and one fair sized one.

The best backed horse with both teams was David Pipe’s American Sniper including £3200 – £200 and £1600 – £100 and American Sniper won. I don’t like to cheer home the bogies but the winner is owned by some real racing fans from Tiverton many of whom used to be known as ‘The Blue Ball Syndicate’ and have had various horses with the yard.

To have a winner at Cheltenham would have been a dream for them, sportsmen all. Living the dream, Gary! The firm lost £3700 so of course I didn’t cheer in anyone’s ear.

Between races, I was chatting to professional punter Andrew Lowrie and a sticking-on bagman who’d rather not be named. I took a quick photo of them. Oh, where’s the bagman gone? They are a camera shy bunch!

1:45 – Mucking Brilliant Paddy Power Handicap Chase (GBB Race) (Class 2) (4YO plus) 2m

Next up and Inlike Flynn back on course for the day getting some fresh air decided to have a pop on this race. Shrewd form beaver that he is had decided to give Dan Skelton’s charge Calico the stripe not fancying the gelding all, that’s also known as ‘going down the book with’ in old language. He was top price on the rail until he was full up to the tune of just over £4000.

That might not sound all that much but was double what they bag actually held. He’d also managed to get Ballybreeze in to the equation laying bets of £1200 – £300 and £1350 – £300 in another race of modest stakes generally.

Well, what can you say, Inlike got it right, the race was won in handsome style by Joe Tizzard’s 10/3 favourite Triple Trade. Well, in the end but anyone standing runner up Calico for their maximum would have needed, in Jack Lynn parlay, ‘a ring of steel’. The books weren’t linked so although Flynn’s pluck won the rails book £1000 a last bet in the book £700 – £200 with Steve and team the winner ensured the winner lost £1300 in Tatts.

2:20 – SSS Super Alloys Arkle Challenge Trophy Trial Novices’ Chase (Grade 2) (GBB Race) (Class 1) (4YO plus) 2m

What the four-runner race lacked in numbers it didn’t lack in bets in the ring, or drama. First things first, bets included £2600 – £400 Homme Public, £1350 – £900, £1800 – £1200, £630 – £450 and £1250 – £1000 JPR One and £880 – £400 Mighty Tom. It was a busy heat, the rails fielded £5500 on the race and Tatts £4000. Second things second, the jolly was going to bolt up, jumped the last running then buckled and fell, just after the 1.01 mob clicked their bets. Carnage I’m told.

That calamity, the jolly and jockey were unhurt, left 13/2 Homme Public and 9/2 Petit Tonnerre to fight it out. The former and outsider of four won the race by a couple of lengths. Steve’s book lost a round of drinks thanks to the £2600 – £400 bet, but Flynn and co copped £3500.

2:55 – Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase (GBB Race) (Class 2) (5YO plus) 3m 5½f

Before racing, I got an email from professional punter Alan Potts. He told me ‘I got my biggest laugh at a Cheltenham preview evening by describing the cross country races as ‘three laps round a garden centre’ and adding that if I wanted to watch slow chasers plodding round and round in circles for seven minutes, I’d go to Fontwell!’

Luckily not everyone appeared to agree with Alan, business was very brisk on both pitches. Flynn was ‘up the front two’, Galvin and Delta Work which lost £3000 and £4000 respectively in his book. Bets were small on both pitches but Steve did lay £3250 – £325 each-way Francky Du Berlais in a book which had Delta Work the bogie losing £2306. There was no luck involved in the result of this race, 9/1 chance Foxy Jacks won the race after a hard battle with runner-up 9/2 chance Latenightpass.

The winner had been at 25/1 chance in the morning, once glance at the connections of the winner and you can assume that there were bookmakers off course that certainly that didn’t win the £3000 and £2400 the rails the Tatts pitches did.

3:30 – Trustatrader Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 2) (Registered As The Hyde Novices’ Hurdle) (GBB Race) (Class 1) (4YO plus) 2m 5f

The penultimate is where the betting really came alive. The first lump, £11,000 – £1000 each-way Sequestered on the rail. My mission to educate punters to ask for fractions evidently needs more work, £11,000 – £990 for anyone that’s interested. Then the punters got steaming into the jolly Captain Teague bets included £1250 – £1650, £4000 – £6000 and £7,333 – £11,000 then to top it up a £2700 – £600 each-way The Big Doyen. If it went the way of the punters Friday would be a very bad start to the week, however, it didn’t.

There wasn’t a dinar for the 22/1 winner Minella Missile, the ring roared him home as they were entitled to, it was the result of the day.

Flynn’s message to me just read, ‘Wallop’ and here’s why.

That was topped up by another £4200 won in Tatts.

I watched the penultimate down by the paddock where I spotted John ‘The Beard’ Noakes who was a regular on course for years but now bets in-running from home. It was very nice to see him back on the turf.

4:05 – Valda Energy Novices’ Handicap Hurdle (GBB Race) (Class 3) (3YO plus) 2m ½f

Down in the ring for the last a punter bet £15,000 – £5000 Impose Toi followed in by a £1200 – £400. Well it couldn’t last, could it? The jolly, backed into 2/1 landed the bets winning from Nigel Hawke’s running on strongly runner-up Donnacha.

The £15,000 take-out knocked the day about but wasn’t enough to totally ruin an excellent winning first day of the meeting.

I’m told we eat well tonight!

Views of authors do not necessarily represent views of Star Sports Bookmakers.

Simon Nott is author of: Skint Mob! Tales from the Betting Ring
available on Kindle 



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