27 February, 2022

AUTHOR: Star Sports Content


With the terrible things going on in Ukraine it’s been hard for me to get enthusiastic about racing in recent days, yes despite Cheltenham looming. That said, it was a selfish feeling of blessed relief to be driving to Kempton on a glorious winter’s morning to enjoy an afternoon of jumping sport on the turf.

It was bracing but gloriously sunny down in the betting ring, Ed and Steve were manning the pitch ready to roll, armed with sweets and cigars to tempt the punters in. A familiar face came down for a chat, he’s the punter that’s been terrorising the ring with his live lumpy bets in recent months. He was so friendly it was a fair guess that he wasn’t just here for the fresh air.

1:15 – Coral ‘Fail-To-Finish’ Free Bets Handicap Chase (Class 3) (5YO plus) 2m 4½f

The first heat was steady betting, but our man didn’t get involved, the bogie in the on-course book was Patroclus but only for about £400. Over in the office, the only bet of note they’d laid was £12,000 – £2000 each-way One True King. Flegmatik winning at 9/2 for Dan Skelton was a fair result for both books and a decent start to the day.

1:50 – Coral Adonis Juvenile Hurdle (Grade 2) (GBB Race) (Class 1) (4YO only) 2m

Still braced for the ‘big punter’ Ed and Steve were market price the jolly Knight Salute at 15/8 but nothing was forthcoming from the floor to make them jump. It wasn’t quite so quiet over on the rails where I’m told a punter had a lump on at the price. Steve and Ed were still desperate to get the jolly in the book but ultimately failed to any size. At the off they had the gelding losing just under a carpet. In hindsight it was just as well they didn’t attract the lumpy backers, Knight Salute won nicely, Star Sports did a carpet but got away with it. Ed Dark had said prior to racing that it looked like a bookmaker’s card, best not say that too loudly on the rail.

Over in the office they reported fairly light business but did lay £1750 – £1000 and £1400 – £800 the winner. Under the SP which was nice, what wasn’t so great was the £3000 each-way the 16/1 runner-up Teddy Blue.

2:25 – Coral Pendil Novices’ Chase (Grade 2) (GBB Race) (Class 1) (5YO plus) 2m 4½f

The punters appeared to fancy the third race on the card ‘The busiest of the day so far’ according to Ed Dark on the computer, and of course he should know. It was steady business with once again no big punters sorting them out. That may have been because they were too busy getting paid out over the previous race. The face on the bookie paying them out was a picture, though it wouldn’t have been cricket to have taken one.

At the off the on-course book had Minella Drama and Fantastic Lady their two against the field, both small losers. Pic D’Orhy winning at 3/1 for Paul Nicholls under Harry Cobden was a decent result.

Over in the office Glenn told me that it had been a quiet race with very little to report. Bets they did lay included £2500 – £500 Fantastic Lady and £2700 – £600 Millers Bank which both stayed in the hod. It may have been a quiet race, but that cop would at least pay for Ben’s next visit to Oslo Court. Pete Houghton betting on the bottom of the rail asked Ed if he could help him out with some pound coins, which he could. Always smiling Pete said, ‘That tells you the level of business down this end, put that in your blog.’

3:00 – Sky Bet Dovecote Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 2) (GBB Race) (Class 1) (4YO plus) 2m

Glenn in the office reported that there had been flood of money for Gary Moore’s Shallwehaveonemore in the fourth, losing nearly £12,000 in their book. On course I heard a bet of £20,000 the same horse at 15/8 on the rail, which led to the collapse into 6/4 by the off. ‘They left us out’ was Ed’s report when I arrived back with the coffees, bookies would dream for queues like the ones for a caffeine hit.

The worst loser in the on-course book was Iceo – care of a bet of £1200 – £300. With all the commotion going on around the favourite, the ‘master trainer’ Chris Gordon’s charge Aucunrisque was allowed to go off at 3/1 before showing the favourite a clean set of hooves from the front under an excellent ride from Tom Cannon. There were ecstatic scenes from connections as the winning combination were led back in. I expect a cheer or two went up in the office too. This time around it was a shame the on-course book was left out and that these larger punters appear to like having it all on in one lump.

3:37 – Coral Trophy Handicap Chase (Grade 3) (GBB Race) (Class 1) (5YO plus) 3m

They bet 6/1 the field in the race before the penultimate but that didn’t deter an intrepid backer betting £5000 – £700, yes that’s with the fractions Annsam with Ed and Steve on the Star Sports pitch. Evan Williams’ charge was all the rage, I heard of a £10,000 bet struck on the rails as well as a similar sum on Harry Fry’s Phoenix Way. The latter fell early on while mistakes by Annsam put paid to any chances he might have had. The race went Christian Williams’ Cap Du Nord, which was a cracking result in the book, at least that’s how it looked but the places knocked the win tally about a bit. Talking of which, the same yard sent out the runner-up 16/1 chance Kitty’s Light.

Over in the Star Sports office in sunny Hove, they had a much quieter race seeing just one bet of £7000 – £1000 Phoenix Way which of course stayed with the good guys. What an afternoon for trainer Christian Williams having won the Eider over at Newcastle with Win My Wings a half hour previously. As an aside, the Press Room at Kempton is on the third floor, the lifts had only been working intermittently all afternoon meaning the amassed ranks of hacks had to climb the seven (yes I counted them) flights of stairs on several occasions. Judging by the puffing and panting that ensued each ascent the kindest thing I can write is that several of them certainly needed and will come on for the run.

📉 Sat next to everyone’s favourite bookmaker’s rep Paul Binfield, he told me that there hadn’t been much fallout from the day ‘We left Knight Salute unchanged at 12-1 for the Triumph Hurdle as by winning the race he did what the market expected him to do. However, the eyecatcher was Teddy Blue who might have gone mighty close if he hadn’t made a hash of the last and the famous hill at Cheltenham looks tailormade for him and he’s into 16 from 25 for the same contest.’

4:10 – Play Coral ‘Racing-Super-Series’ For Free Handicap Hurdle (Class 3) (4YO plus) 2m 5f

The Master Trainer got a double up on the day when his charge and 7/2 favourite Storm Dennis got up in the shadow of the post to collar gallant 40/1 chance Carys’ Commodity. It was a cruel cup snatched from the lips moment for the bookmakers, some of whom had laid the winner heavily. Needless to say, that the runner-up would have been a skinner for many. Ed reported that the race had been the biggest take of the day with money spread around plenty of horses, four of which were losers, the winner not included.

4:45 – Coral Committed To Safer Gambling Open NH Flat Race (GBB Race) (Class 5) (4YO to 6YO) 2m

Remember I told you about the friendly big staking punter that came up for a chat before racing? Forgotten about him I’ll wager. Well, Ed and Steve had too, until he ambled up for a bet of £6500 – £4000 Itso Fury, so confident was he that he added if they didn’t have the readies to pay, it was OK he’d collect it at Cheltenham. That was the story of the book, all the intrepid duo on the pitch could do was watch and hope.

Glenn in the office told me ‘Another quiet race to finish, the biggest bet was £2300 Itso Fury at 15/8 which made it a loser for £5200.’ Well what can we say about Tom Cannon riding a treble under Toby Law’s 9/4 chance Onewayortother? Yes, you guessed it, nothing more than a rousing, Aye Aye!

Next up, four days at the Cheltenham Festival.


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