I drove back last night, it was my son Monty’s second birthday so really wanted to be home. Mind you, by the time I got back to the Shire he was well and truly in the Land Of Nod. Traffic out of Cheltenham was a nightmare, as was sailing painfully slowly down the motorway with the Midlands Navy heading to the Westcountry for half term. In the old days I’d have stayed over, had a Thai and a few beers with the team before crashing out in whatever accommodation had been procured by Inlike. I must admit briefly wishing that I’d gone for that option as I dawdled along the M5 at 10 miles an hour behind a caravan ironically emblazoned with the logo ‘Swift’.

This morning I was of a different mind. Yes, I was setting off again 11 hours after I arrived, but the plus side was, I hadn’t woken up in a room shared with someone whose every snore through the night was rasped in as if it were the poor chaps last. I didn’t have to work out how to set the unfamiliar shower to a temperature comfortably between scalding and Baltic. I didn’t have to wait for the toilet to be vacated before sitting on a seat warmed by Lofty evacuating the contents of his Thai spiced bowels and of course, no hangover.

After arriving at the course rather smugly fresh and quite early I had a wander around and ended up in the shopping village. One of my previous #BettingPeople interviewees Steve Jones was there with his co-author Chris Coley. The guys were selling copies of their book ‘Under Starter’s Orders – Horse Racing Quiz Book’ all proceeds to the Injured Jockeys Fund. You can support that excellent cause and gen up on your racing knowledge to boot by buying a copy on-line here

1:45 – NHS Vaccinating Heroes Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle (Class 3) (3YO plus) 2m ½f

Lofty and Flynn had an unexpected job before they could get to work on the first. They had a move up one space on the rails so bet where Pinno was yesterday. Anyone that read Friday’s report will remember that Baz the Tash had a bit of a cob on after doing his cobblers on the day, the pile of ripped winning tickets the Star two had to clear out illustrated quite how bad a day he’d endured.

The business was noticeably busier than yesterday with decent, if not huge bets flying around the rails. Inlike Flynn laid a bet of £900 – £400 Samarrive fairly early. There was also good, albeit modest, support for Straw Fan Jack along with money for plenty of the field. It was shaping into a nice book, the biggest bet of the race, a £1750 – £500 for Samba Dancer came in late and left the ledger lopsided. At the off, the book looked as messy as the race turned out to be. Samba Dancer scrambling to a head win over the gamble Straw Fan Jack wasn’t a great start. They fared better in the office. Ed Dark told me, ‘We had a one-horse book all for the favourite Samarrive, bets included £5000 – £2000, £2500 – £1000, £1250 -£500 x 2 and lots of smaller money’.

2:20 – 888sport What’s Your Thinking Handicap Chase (GBB Race) (Class 2) (4YO plus) 3m 1f

‘Yep, that was alright’ was Lofty’s summing up of the second race after Definite Plan wore down The Hollow Ginge up the hill to win close home. The firm did well as the winner was only a 9/2 shot. Their bogie had been Storm Patrol for most of the betting, that was compounded right in the hole when a punter bet a £3500 – £1000 which made Kerry Lee’s charge a loser for over £5000 in the book. ‘That was a dog book’ was Lofty’s observation, meaning just the one, lumpy, loser. A dog book it might have been, but one they copped on. Ed Dark in the office had a similar story, telling me ‘It was a quiet race. We laid Storm Control £1400 – 400 and £1000 – £300 Hollow Ginge took the book so the winner getting up was a good result’.

2:55 – Masterson Holdings Hurdle (GBB Race) (Class 2) (4YO only) 2m ½f

Ed was on quickly after they jumped off for the third, his news was that they’d laid £7500 – £5000 Stepney Causeway and Tritonic £6000 – £4000 making Stepney a loser and Tritonic taking the book. Down on the pitch it was all about Tritonic, the one they couldn’t get in the hod was the 10/3 winner, Nigel Twiston-Davies’ I Like To Move It. In short the winner was a tremendous result, as it was in the office. The only difference being Ed came on to say it was a great result while Lofty had suddenly ‘Gone for the winner’. Inlike Flynn just shook his head and let him take it!

3:30 – 888sport Handicap Chase (GBB Race) (Class 2) (4YO plus) 2m

It was a similar story in the fourth, Lofty put the fact they had Sky Pirate losing and the jolly Before Midnight winning in the book as a result of ‘steady public money’. Ed in the office said that the only bet of note was a £2000 – £1000 on the favourite Before Midnight and that had been late on. The jolly winning wouldn’t have been good for the office, although in the bigger scheme of things they wouldn’t have come to too much harm. Down on the rail they were cock-a-hoop Lofty had gone for another winner and copped over the jolly. Aye Aye!

4:05 – Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle (Class 2) (4YO plus) 3m

JB in the office came on prior to the race before the penultimate and told me that things had woken up a bit over there. They had too, they’d laid bets of £80,000 – £20,000 Born Patriot and £82,500 – £30,000 Tullybeg. It picked up on the rail too. They’d laid a bet of £10,000 – £2500 Born Patriot which made it the absolute bogie while taking enough on Tullybeg to make that a loser as well. When you are a bookmaker, or even freelancing for one and you know that they have gone ‘down the book’ with the front two, it’s always a good sign when you hear other bookmakers cheering and chucking their arms in the air. In this instance to herald the 20/1 victory of Kansas City Chief. It was an excellent result for the bookmakers but a little disappointing for Flynn when he spotted they’d laid £1000 – £50 the winner. There wasn’t too much complaining though as the absolute bogie was runner-up, though in fairness never looked like winning. There was a shocker in the result, the SP of the second, 18/5. Yes, I know.

4:40 – Mick Turner A Lifetime In Racing Novices’ Chase (GBB Race) (Class 2) (5YO plus) 3m ½f

Between races Rory from the office came up to the joint to say hello. He’s good mates with Inlike and had the weekend off specially to attend. The penultimate had been reduced to three runners. Does He Know was backed into 4/5 from 5/6 whilst Undersupervision and Roi De Dubai flip-flopped in the betting, the latter the outsider of three at the off. The on-course book was a topsy-turvy affair too with the outsider of three the only loser after laying a £1250 – £500. That’s dangerous as any betting shop bore will tell you the outsider of three ALWAYS wins. Not this time it didn’t. Does He Know obliged to win the race but only after a dramatic run-in. There was a real tussle developing between the Undersupervision and the winner only for the former to lose all chance after trying to run out. This was caused by either ducking away from the Pro-Cush, trying to go around again or a combination of the two, depending whose opinion you asked. Sam Twiston-Davies did well to stay on to collect second. The winning jolly not only copped in the rails book but also in the office. They’d laid bets of £3500 – £1000 and £10,000 – £3000 the runner-up and £5000 – £1000 Roi De Dubai in the morning so subject to a hefty Rule 4. It was ultimately all academic, the jolly won and the firm copped. Aye Aye.

Flynn & Rory from the office.

5:15 – Royal Gloucestershire Hussars Open NH Flat Race (GBB Race) (Class 2) (4YO to 6YO) 2m ½f

As the betting on the last got underway, Amy Christophers of Raceday TV came to interview Lofty. He stopped being grumpy, if you look closely he’s maybe even blushing!

The concluding bumper saw plenty of bets on plenty of horses. The book had half a dozen losers but nothing for fortunes, they were just hoping for the best. The office reported two bets of interest £20,000 to £500 each-way Askinvillar and £7200 – £1600 Swapped. Turning for home it looked like Chris Gordon might land a meeting double as his charge Aucunrisque kicked clear. Sadly, for his followers the gelding was swallowed up close home by a trio headed at the line by Fergal O’Brien’s 22/1 chance Bonttay under Connor Brace. According to Lofty it was a cracking result for the book, topping off what had been a very good day on the rails. So, that was that, an excellent return to action at Cheltenham and a proper warm up for the next time Star Sports bet on course, back here in November.

See you then.


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