AUTHOR: Star Sports Content

SIMON NOTT BETTING BLOG: Cheltenham Saturday

Yesterday was an excellent start to the three days for the bookmakers, business was good and the results kind.

They’d be hoping for more of the same today which of course would be much busier. The first result of the day yesterday, though not for Star Sports who did their money on it was David Pipe’s American Sniper winning at 16/1.

The syndicate who own the horse are made up of a group of really enthusiastic racing men from the Tiverton area. Needless to say, they had a great night last night.

One of them was supposed to be going home after racing but ended up leaving his car in the owner’s carpark and sleeping on his fellow syndicate member’s hotel floor.

He was back today, not wearing the same clothes as he was last night, honest. That’s the way to go Andy, that’s what it’s all about.

I was a bright eyed 18-year-old when I first went racing, this meeting then known as The Mackeson here in 1983, fascinated by the betting ring. The first bet was on Sweet Mandy with Ricky & Son at 9/4, it was 5/2 hawking behind. She fell but it was the start of a wonderful adult lifetime on racecourses. 40 years on and I’m here and Ricky (the son) is working on the rail for Star Sports.

Who’d have thought it? Not me, that’s for sure.

12:35 – Jcb Triumph Trial Juvenile Hurdle (Registered As The Prestbury Juvenile Hurdle) (Grade 2) (GBB Race) (Class 1) (3YO only) 2m ½f

The teams today were, on the rail, Hannah, Ricky and Kyle (Flynn was in a lofty box rubbing shoulders with the great and the good of the game). On the Tatts pitch, the team was unchanged, Steve, Tony and Nick. Also, as with yesterday, the first race wasn’t overly busy and all bar a monkey on Milan Tino at 7/4 in Tattersalls there wasn’t a lumpy backer in sight. Well, there was one, I spoke to the bag man who dodged out of the photo yesterday and he’d already placed his bets for the day. I wonder who laid him early, over time they will come second to the bagman, he has an uncanny knack of beating the prices.

Both pitches fielded about £2000 a piece. Steve in Tatts had gone all out to get Burdett Road, the 9/4 winner had been as big as 3/1 with Star Sports on course, come racing. Jumping the final hurdle 8/1 chance An Bradan Feasa a good winner in the book was still in front, but got collared by Burdett Road the bogie in the Tatts book after the last. Luckily, as business was very modest, Steve’s team ‘only’ did £2000 which was a £4000 turnaround on the race had the runner-up held on.

Over in Tatts Kyle, ‘Lovely face’ as Ben christened him was smiling, his team copped £700 so not the disaster for the firm first feared.

1:10 – Wienerberger Amateur Jockeys’ Handicap Chase (Class 3) (4YO plus) 3m 1f

There was a reversal of fortunes on the two pitches in the second heat. The business was very brisk but still not lumpy. The first bet in the rails book was £1600 – £100 each-way Hascoeur Clermont, that punter knew, the Irish raider went on to win the race at 12/1, the rails book did a carpet on the back of that bet.

Over in Tatts, Steve had redeemed himself, his words not mine, and had a lean-up the winner, their book copped £1700 on the race so back in the game.

The office news was upbeat but small too, they told me: ‘That was a decent result for the firm on what was another light betting heat, roll on the first TV race.’

1:45 – From The Horse’s Mouth Podcast Novices’ Chase (Listed) (GBB Race) (Class 1) (5YO plus) 3m ½f

Next up and as I approached the rails pitch ‘Lovely Face’ beamed ‘Lively.’ They’d laid plenty of fairly decent bets including £2250 – £1000 the eventually drifter Good Risk At All. If the Tatts pitch could talk it would have said ‘hold my beer’.

They’d dwarfed that with £5000 – £1000 and £2500 – £500 Mister Coffey and £1800 – £200 Alaphilippe.

The smaller public money, though nothing of note, was all for Broadway Boy in Tatts, whereas there was a bigger spread of money on the rail. The public rather than the plunge money was the best aimed. Broadway Boy the 9/4 joint-favourite bolted up. The Tatts pitch won a carpet on the race. Not bad over a short one you might think, it doesn’t sound quite so good when you learn they stood Mister Coffey for £6300.

Kyle was still smiling on the rail though; they’d manage to cop £1700 over the winner. By luck, not design, the cherubic one informed me, Kyle’s not for leaning.

Over at Star Sports HQ in Hove, they were happy given the price of the winner, their message read: ‘We had a nice looking book, there was plenty of interest. Broadway Boy was our worst winner but we’ll take that on the first TV race.’

2:20 – Paddy Power Gold Cup Handicap Chase (Premier Handicap) (GBB Race) (Class 1) (4YO plus) 2m 4f

The feature race saw some spirited betting on both the rails and in Tatts. ‘The bet numbers are very good’ was Kyle’s summing up of the race. His team didn’t have a notable bet to give me but the deadly duo on the front, Hannah and Ricky were grafting solidly taking public money in bundles. It was a very similar story on Steve’s pitch, but they did lay a single bet of £4500 – £1000 Stage Star. Paul Nicholls’ favourite was by far the most popular horse bet on course, at the off he was the bogie for £5900 in Tatts and £3700 on the rails.

He never really looked like being beaten from turning for home either, apart from when giving his supporters the heebie-jeebies when making a rick at the last. Kyle’s face was glowing in the red from the winning boogie, no longer grinning, Steve’s demeanour was similar, though to be fair he rarely wears his heart on his sleeve, let’s call it a bad result.

I was fearing the worst when waiting to hear from the office, the bogie treble up, but no, their message was a bit of light relief, it read, ‘Lots of small bets, good spread, fav wins, flat book.’

Paul Binfield, PR guru for the sponsors told me, ‘Stage Star was favourite for this race for the majority of the time we priced it up, although usurped by Unexpected Party last night, but we saw significant money for the winner today, the Turners’ Novices’ Chase hero rewarded his legions of supports in no uncertain terms, despite nearly coming down at the last. He’s now 4/1 for the Ryanair Chase with ourselves.’

2:55 – Paddy Power Games Handicap Hurdle (GBB Race) (Class 2) (4YO plus) 3m

As often happens after the feature race, business slowed a bit, there were no bets of note, both books fielded a couple of grand in small money. The Tatts team had four losers ranging from £1100 to £363, the latter was over the 9/4 jolly and winner Buddy One.

Over on the rails pitch, Kyle said he’d been in danger of betting overs at one point but ended up with a couple of losers and a taker. The taker was the winner but ‘The places were kind’ resulting in a £200 cop on the race. Ending Saturday on a winning note with two races to go was looking like a big ask unless the big punters came out of the bars for a real go on the last couple of races.

Once again the office message wasn’t as bad as it could have been over a favourite. They reported: ‘More of the same, no huge bets but what we took of any size was on the winner, another favourite which was thankfully just a small loser’

3:30 – Paddy Power Intermediate Handicap Hurdle (Class 3) (3YO plus) 2m 5f

They did come out and have a go, it picked up. Kyle and co on the rails laid a bet of £3500 – £1000 Resplendent Grey, then Steve, Nick and Tony took a £7000 – £2000 the same horse in Tatts, closely followed by a bet of £1250 – £500 Springwell Bay. Apart from those bets, stakes were modest but there were plenty of wagers tendered. The one the smaller punters wanted to be on was the by now 9/4 favourite Springwell Bay. You couldn’t really blame them, just backing the jollies was proving lucrative today.

Even more lucrative after the favourite won, the fourth market leader on the bounce. Steve’s team had Resplendent Grey losing £8000 at the off and still lost £400 on the race, which is galling. The field appeared to be queuing up to take on the jolly jumping the last, but it just found another gear to win going away, which was the rubdown.

The rail fared better, Kyle and co copped £1700 over, Lovely face doesn’t have a lean, hmm I’m not so sure but give him the benefit of the doubt, it was probably because they had no chance of betting up to the £3500 – £1000 bet.

It appeared the office were getting a bit jaded with the jollies winning, their message just read ‘Ditto’ to their previous. Either that or they were under the cosh with bets pouring in.

4:05 – Karndean Designflooring Mares’ Open NH Flat Race (Listed) (GBB Race) (Class 1) (4YO to 5YO) 2m ½f

With just the bumper to go there wasn’t much danger of many punters needing to ‘get out’ on the day. Just in case there were though, there’s a hoary old saying for those in doubt, ‘Willie’s in the bumper’. Willie’s in this bumper was Baby Kate, a punter had a bet of £4500 – £1000 with Steve in Tatts, the biggest of a lot of bets, everyone knows the ‘Willie’s in the bumper’ advice. Mind you, there was money for other horses, plenty of them. Kyle said that the last had been the busiest race of the day for them.

A punter waded in with £1600 at 4/1 for Sharp Object in Tatts which meant that as they set off the Tatts pitch had an ‘up the front two’ book. Willie’s won the bumper at 7/2, come racing, from 33/1 result Jeune Belle, the pitches did their cobblers. At the final tally on the day, Tatts had lost just over £10,000 and the rails £2700. Not a great day at the office. Talking of which…

The office reported, ‘We had a level race to finish sorry it’s not too inspiring today, lots of bets but a tough set of results, we feel we got away with it’

Despite the doom and gloom of the firm doing their dough, who can’t smile when you meet ‘Colonel Braxton’ from Twitter (X) and his band of merry John McCriricks, top guys all and we all still miss John. Still, with one day to go, it was all to play for. We ate well last night, this evening might be more frugal. I doubt we’ll go into this bar, we spotted the punter every bookie hates lurking there, still they say he was in good spirits.

We’re back tomorrow.


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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