EXETER FRIDAY: SIMON NOTT reports from Devon National Day at Exeter. A packed crowd including many clients of Star Sports and eight races for punters and bookmakers to navigate. How did the afternoon’s betting action unfold?
Star Sports hosted a box for clients at the ‘Devon National Raceday’. The freebee which was thrown open to first come first served proved very popular and oversubscribed. There was plenty of free food and drink for all, Luke and Lofty hosted, but you can’t have it all!
1:30 gg.co.uk Handicap Hurdle
The crowd that had to pay still turned out in force for the eight-race card, hard to believe it wasn’t a Saturday given the attendance. Betting was brisk in the opener. The punters lumped on Warren Greatrex’s Printing Dollars early which saw the price tumble from 5/2 into 7/4 before bouncing back to 2/1 at the off. There had also been nibbles in the market for Buywise – those on at 25/1 looked to have nabbed a bargain when its price had been slashed to 10/1 at the off. Regardless of the perceived value those bets didn’t look so clever when Evan William’s gelding was pulled up. Cash invested on the jolly however saw punters kick the day off nicely, winning as it liked under Sam Waley-Cohen.
2:05 Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle
Bookies already on the back foot took another hit when Aiden Coleman booted Emma Lavelle’s 5/1 joint-favourite Flemcara home in the next. It’s doubtful many layers would have gone down the book with the winner but it was unlikely to be a ‘cop’ in many ledgers either. The owners were listed as Andy & The Frisky Fillies, let’s hope they had it spark off. Those that were suffering from smouldering fingers were those that punted David Pipe’s Poker Play backed from early 25/1 in the ring to 7/1 at the off. It looked to have every chance before the winner proved too good.
2:40 Visit Exeter Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle
The third race boasted a long odds-on favourite in Nicky Henderson’s Epatante which opened at 1/5. Not with everyone, one layer was a cautious 2/11. A well-known punter and lover of a short one came in with £5000 and asked for it at 1/5. The bookmaker stuck to his guns so the punter went elsewhere and was accommodated to £1000 – £5000 before the price became 1/6. The jolly won as expected under Barry Geraghty. Easy money for the plucky punter, a layer basking in the warm glow of having it done right and another wondering if he should have laid it at all.
3:10 GG Tips ‘National Hunt’ Novices’ Hurdle
There was some jollity in the press room as the Westcountry correspondent roared home David Pipe’s 5/2 winner Umbrigado in the next. The gelding won with some style and had more than one observer cooing. Punters got it wrong sending Ask Dillon off at 9/4 thus favourite but not many bookmakers cheered the winner home, the jolly was second so they had no chance from a long way out.
3:45 GG Fast Results Mares’ Handicap Hurdle
There was no jollity amongst fans of Lizzie Kelly and the Genius of George Nympton Nick Williams, of which this blogger is one, in the next. The combo’s 13/2 chance Aimee De Sivola was beaten a short head in a photo after a ding-dong tussle with 11/2 winner, Colin Tizzard’s charge Dino’s Benefit under Harry Cobden. Backers of the runner-up aside the biggest disappointment would have been shared by the many backers of favourite Annie Mc backed from 2/1 into 11/8 but ran no sort of race.
I had a chat with Jimmy Frost in the Star Sports box, he had some strong opinions and excellent stories, he did give me his number so I’m hoping he’ll agree to a #BettingPeople interview in the future. Watch this space.
4:20 Healthy Pets Devon National Handicap Chase
The feature race of the day was run in a shroud of fog, it was a very competitive renewal with a 16-runner field. We think the race was too, but it was hard to really tell but commentator John Blance did a sterling job of trying to keep everyone informed. Bursting out of the gloom on the final circuit all eyes were tuned in to see Dawson City under Tom Bellamy jumping the last clear to complete back to back wins in the race. The punters had latched on to Polly Gundry’s charge, the winner had been double figures in the morning with 10/1 still available early in the ring but returned 6/1, a touch landed and a nasty result for the layers.
4:50 GG Racing Podcast Chase
Visibility had gotten even worse by the time they set of for the penultimate. The money was for Captain Cattistock 2/1 into 13/8. I saw one punter try and beg 2/1 when it was 7/4 on the thumb, he was told politely 7/4 was best. Then, to the bookie’s shock, he pulled out a monkey and had it on. The crowd cheered as the horses came into view after the first circuit, the jolly was in front, then disappeared into the gloom again. The TV cameras were doing their best to try and pick up what was going on, but to little avail. When the field came into view, halfway up the run-in as far as most people were concerned, the jolly was still in front and stayed there until the line.
5:20 Follow ggcouk On Twitter Standard Open NH Flat Race
Talk on the local news this morning had been of possibly the warmest February day since records began. It certainly wasn’t up on Haldon Hill. The fog did lift slightly and briefly for the running of the concluding bumper, but it had got pretty nippy up here in the clouds. Some of the bookies, and plenty of the punters had already legged it. Of those that remained, betting exchanges on course mostly revolved around Harry Fry’s Get In The Queue steady at 6/4 and Philip Hobbs’ Kalooki supported from 7/1 into 5/1. The poor commentator had to adlib for the race but when they, or should I say Get In The Queue came back into view the person next to me shouted ‘Where are the rest of them?’ 16 lengths away that’s where, headed by 14/1 shot Sheshoon Sonny. Incidentally 14 was about the same number in people queuing to collect from those poor poor bookies, gloomy in the gloom.
Simon Nott is author of:
Skint Mob! Tales from the Betting Ring