AUTHOR: davidstewart


I’m ashamed to say that I have never been to Longchamp, for Arc or any other day. It looks a lot of fun but a bit miserable too with no bookmakers shouting the odds in front of the stands. So, it’s watching on TV for me again this year, but I will make the effort to get there before it’s too late. At least the great and the good of the UK horseracing are there to bring us all the excitement.

Despite not having attended in person, I do have a favourite couple of memories from the meeting. The running of the I remember really getting emotionally involved with was when Dancing Brave won it in 1986. I’m not sure with whom but I had won a free bet on the race so had it on Pat Eddery’s mount. I think it was only a tenner but when you consider that this young squaddie was only on a score a day with the REME over in Bunde Germany it was still a fair bet.

When a horse looks beaten and comes with such ‘rapid late headway’ from the back of the TV to win a race it’s all the more exciting. I’m sure the Herforder Pils were on me in the Workshop Bar after that win.

Even my mum watched it on the telly back home in Blighty. Knowing that I had the free bet, she said she was in tears when Dancing Brave won, dear old mum. I’m sure the horrible bugger she was married to at the time was willing it back, so all the sweeter!

I also remember reading in the Sporting Life that Midway Lady’s trainer Ben Hanbury was ‘sure’ that she’d win the Prix Marcel Boussac a year before. I probably had more on than I should have done on one of my credit accounts at 4/6, after all if Ben was sure, who was I to argue. She did win, under Lester Piggott, but I didn’t see the race, just the result. Aye Aye.

🇫🇷 1:15 – Qatar Prix Marcel Boussac – Fillies’ Group 1 (Class 1) (2YO only) 1m

It was the renewal of that race 36 years later that kicked today’s action off. The punters certainly didn’t mind interrupting their roast beef to have a go in it. Ed Dark in the office told me that they had laid a bet of £40,000 – £20,000 Fleur D’iris and £60,000 – £10,000 Natasha. Now those punters couldn’t have gotten off to a worse start, their two fancies backed up with their hard-earned finished second from last and last respectively.

4/1 chance Zellie won the race and was what Ed described as the ‘worst winner’, as they’d laid a hefty £10,000 – £2000 in addition to some lesser bets from warm accounts in the morning. Still, the day started off on a winning note, needless to say, Times Square the 40/1 runner-up, would have been better.

🇫🇷 1:50 – Qatar Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere – Group 1 (Class 1) (2YO only) 7f

Betting was 4/1 the field for the next it went the way of the punters when Frankie Dettori booted home 9/2 chance Angel Bleu. Ed reported, ‘Of the six fancied ones we had three and the punters had three. Sadly, Angel Bleu was one of theirs, we laid a bet of £45,000 – £10,000. We also laid £40,000 – £10,000 Accakaba and £44,000 – £8000 Ebro River.’

🇫🇷 2:25 – Qatar Arabian World Cup – Group 1 (Class 1) (4YO plus) 1m 2f

Lofty, famously grumpy regular on Star Sports’ pitches on course, loves an Arab Race. His theory is that only the fancied horses are ever involved in the finish. With that in mind he gets stuck right into the rags in the opposite to most people’s idea of bookmaking. So far on course he’s gotten away with it and struts around the ring proudly sticking his chest out like a Loony Tunes Bulldog after every race where the favourite wins and he’s nicked a few quid. He’d have probably managed to win here too, but may have been tempted to get 15/2 winner Hoggar De L’ardus in the book.

Luckily for the firm, Ed and co, in the office didn’t share Lofty’s duck the short ones tactics and managed to take a £22,500 – £10,000 out of the fourth-placed jolly Ebraz. The winner had to survive a look from the Stewards before connections could draw their half a million quid winnings but survive he did.

🇫🇷 3:05 – Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe – Group 1 (Class 1) (3YO plus) 1m 4f

With the 100th running of the Arc we were treated to one hell of a race and a colossal result for the bookmakers when German raider Torquator Tasso landed an 80/1 ( 139-1 win only on the exchanges ) shock result. In doing so, beating 5/1 Tarnawa into second and 5/2 favourite Hurricane Lane back in third. Ed took a while to come back with the bets, still counting the winnings no doubt. Bets taken on the race included £250,000 – £75,000 Adayar, £300,000 – £50,000 Tarnawa, £140,000 – £10,000 Alenquer and £12,500 – £5000 Hurricane Lane.

It wasn’t all plain sailing for the bookies though, Lofty, yes, he gets a second mention in this report, posted on Twitter that he’d backed the winner at 80/1. He also posted his winning slip to a few of us on Whatsapp, he actually took 66/1 with Skybet, five places, yes that’s right, typical punter, backed a winning 66/1 chance but still had to exaggerate it out to 80/1. He also weirdly cropped out his stake, which when quizzed on he replied ‘modest’. Still, you don’t need much on at 66/1 an 80/1 winner to get yourself a few quid. Well done Lofty and also to the Star punters who found the winner to the tune of £4 and £5 at 66/1 too.

🇫🇷 3:50 – Qatar Prix de l’Opera – Fillies’ and Mares Group 1 (Class 1) (3YO plus) 1m 2f

The books enjoyed another result when Rougir popped up at 16/1 which was particularly handy for the office. They had laid a bet of £65,000 – £10,000 Grand Glory a nose back in second. They also trousered a £50,000 – £10,000 Audarya which finished in fourth. By the way, Lofty chipped in that the latter had been given a ‘terrible ride’. Do you think he might have reinvested his winnings? Yes me too.

🇫🇷 4:25 – Qatar Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp Longines – Group 1 (Class 1) (2YO plus) 5f

Glenn, taking over from Ed Dark almost nonchalantly told me that they had laid just the one bet of note in this race. £200,000 – £100,000 Suesa. Unusually for when there’s been such a lump for one, the subject of the monster bet wouldn’t have had the pulses in the office racing, never looking like winning. It appeared as if 40/1 chance Air De Valse would be another great result for the books having stolen the race going clear well inside the final furlong. We were then treated to a magnificent finish where 8/1 A Case For You found the supercharge button and flew home to break the hearts of Air’s backers snatching the race on the nod. It was largely irrelevant for the office, the £100,000 was safely on the right side of a very lopsided book.

🇫🇷 5:00 – Qatar Prix de la Foret – Group 1 (Class 1) (3YO plus) 7f

There was no sign of the punters getting weary going into the seventh race. Glenn was on again, There had been a bet of £125,000 – £50,000 struck Space Blues and £24,000 – £2000 Duhail. I’m hoping the guys in the office hadn’t started putting the elastic bands around the £100,000 they copped in the previous race because they were soon paying it back out again with £25,000 interest. Space Blues bolted up. On At The Races the pundits said it was an enjoyable race to watch, not in the Star Sports office it wasn’t I’d wager.

With the Group races concluded, for the purposes of this report so’s the Arc meeting 2021 concluded too. The last race knocked it about a bit but the guys in the office were happy with the business and copped a nice few quid on a day where the races largely went the way of the bookies. At least not being there I don’t have to rush back ready to rock again on Monday morning, every cloud. Next stop, direct from the action at Ascot on Champions’ Day, then we’re jumping at Cheltenham, it’s all go….


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