My first day’s racing at Newbury was somewhat delayed, I do remember being all ready to go back in the early to mid-1980’s only for the meeting to be abandoned on the morning of racing. It wasn’t until the Hennessy in 1987 that I first visited the course. I was still in the Army and had decided to write to clerks of courses asking for casual work on race days to fund a tour of the turf while I was on leave. To my delight Newbury sent me complimentary club tickets for both days of the meeting.

My mate Larry and I drove up two days in a row, the Friday was a very successful punting day, in other words plenty of favourites won, including Beech Road and Springholm. Our fancy for the Hennessy was Kildimo ridden by Graham Bradley and sent off the 2/1 favourite. I have to admire my own pluck, I remember deciding to have all I was in front on it, that was £90 at 9/4 I’m pretty sure with Benny Edwards in Tattersalls. When I say pluck, I was on £20.01 at day with the REME at the time. Of course, that sort of behaviour is to be frowned upon these days.

I did my money, Kildimo never gave us a thrill not really getting into the race finishing fourth behind Playschool ridden by a bloke called Paul Nicholls (pictured below). I do remember loving everything about the course and its old stand and rustic bars. I would have first worked there for Jack Lynn in 1989 or 1990 when there was still a worker’s canteen in the bowels of the stand, full of smoke and floormen. Newbury was also a place where you could buy anything, a guy whose name I forget often had clobber for sale. He’d whisper in a potential buyer’s ear and off they’d trot, back in simpler times when men went to the toilets together trying on suits and coats from dubious origin rather than a livener.

Kildimo aside, Newbury has often been a lucky track for me, I copped a 10p line of a Jackpot there back in January 2002 which with the Placepot copped over £7000. I would have bagged double had Gary Wiltshire not gone around the ring backing the original second in late on making it favourite. I had a non-runner from the last leg going on the unnamed favourite. Well, you can guess what happened. Anyway, Gary came up to me afterwards and congratulated me on being a winner, little did he know he’d just cost me plenty. Typical punter aren’t I, copped £7000 and still not happy!

After that little love in with Berkshire’s premier racecourse, I feel a bit of a fraud, but logistics dictate I’m not there today. I am relaying all the business from the Star Sports office so we should be in for a good afternoon of sport. The bonus being not holding onto a mush with freezing hands in the ring braving the remnants of Storm Arwen but still nothing beats being there.

Luckily for us and this blog, my old pal ‘Armaloft Alex’ is on-course working in the ring for the Sid Hooper organisation, I messaged him asking for any news from on-course, his reply, ‘OK mate, will do, you’ve missed a lovely snowstorm and two joints blowing over’. No, he’s not selling it to me either.

12:10 – Ladbrokes Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle (Listed) (GBB Race) (Class 1) (4YO plus) 2m ½f

We saw a potential star in the opener when Elle Est Belle made an impact bolting up under Harry Skelton for bother Dan. She had been favourite in the morning but money for Nina The Terrier saw her price drift to 2/1 at the off. Armaloft in the ring told me that there were plenty of chunks about on course and that Nina The Terrier had been all the rage backed from 13/8 into even money. The on course market got it wrong, the favourite came down at the last when contesting second but most observers thought she’d not have troubled the winner. Ed Dark in the Star Sports office reported business had been quiet but that the winner was the only loser in the book but for mostly small money, the only bet of any note a £600 – £400.

12:40 – Ladbrokes John Francome Novices’ Chase (Grade 2) (GBB Race) (Class 1) (4YO plus) 2m 7½f

The market got it wrong again in the next. Ahoy Senor obliterated his opposition by a length over what would have been an old-fashioned distance for Lucinda Russell under Derek Fox and launched racing twitter into a plethora of plaudits. It’s fair to say that before the race it was expected by even those most impressed, that Henry De Bromhead’s Mr Incredible was the most likely to be lauded. He was backed accordingly into 11/10 and runner-up by 31 lengths while the winner returned a retrospective gift price of 5/2. Luckily for Star Sports the only money of note they saw was for the runner-up jolly, including a bet of £1600 but Ed did report that it was modest business for a Saturday. And Armaloft, either far too busy taking bets to get in touch or retrieving an airborne mush from the second-last, hopefully the former.

1:15 – Sir Peter O’Sullevan Memorial Handicap Chase (GBB Race) (Class 2) (4YO plus) 2m 6½f

Alex was back for the next, his message simply read, ‘Kalooki was backed from 11/2 into around 4/1 here but it’s definitely a quieter ‘Hennessy day’ than that of years past’. Those punters who backed Kalooki did their money, their fancy only managed 7th, behind the 13/2 winner Kapcorse. Once again, in hindsight the winner was an obvious one, owned by JP, trained by Paul Nicholls and ridden by Harry Cobden, here’s the important bit, in Peter O’Sullevan’s old colours. Ed told me that things had started to pick up, they’d laid bets of £24,000 – £2000 Offalltheginjoints and £5000 – £1000 Kalooki, but that the winner was the ‘worst’ cop in the book.

1:50 – Get Your Ladbrokes 1 Free Bet Today Handicap Hurdle (GBB Race) (Class 2) (4YO plus) 2m 4½f

Next up and a great result for the bookmakers in the shape of the Nigel Twiston-Davies trained 14/1 winner Earlofthecotswolds holding off the jolly old 10/3 favourite Master’s Legacy under Sam Twiston-Davies. As Ed said, things had picked up, bets laid in the Star Sports office included £20,000 – £1000 each-way Dorking Lad, £11,000 – £1000 each-way Ch’tibello and plenty of business for the runner-up including a brace of £3500 – £1000 wagers. Armaloft didn’t volunteer any further info but did send these photos.

2:25 – Ladbrokes Committed To Safer Gambling Intermediate Hurdle (Listed Limited Handicap) (GBB Race) (Class 1) (4YO plus) 2m ½f

The 8/1 outsider of four Onemorefortheroad winning for Neil King under Jack Quinlan would have been a cracking turn-up for most books. The money on course was for the favourite Soaring Glory. Armaloft in the ring told me that it had all been about the jolly backed from 11/10 into 4/5 to plenty of money but not to any major lumps. I had to give Edwardo in the office a little nudge, it transpired that he’d been busy typing out all the losing bets over the losing favourite. They make great reading if you like the good guys to win. So, without further ado, the office laid £1000 – £1200, £3200 – £4000, £1667 – £2000, £2000 – £2000, £1000 – £1000, £1100 – £1000 and £2400 – £2000. Handy.

3:00 – Ladbrokes Trophy Chase (Grade 3 Handicap) (GBB Race) (Class 1) (4YO plus) 3m 2f

The big race, back in 2008 I was part of Andrew Mount’s Scoop 6 syndicate, we’d copped the previous week and had gone in with Harry Findlay and the other winners for the £1,000,000 plus bonus. The one we had running for us at the business end was 5/1 chance Air Force One, with only David Pipe’s 25/1 shot Madison du Berlais to beat with two to jump we were looking at a share of a whopper, the combination of a mistake at the second last and the training genius of David Pipe shattered those dreams.

Dreams came true here today though, for the bookmakers freezing on-course and for friends and family of the late Trevor Hemmings. It was fairytale stuff when his Cloudy Glenn won the feature race at odds of 33/1 for Venetia Williams under Charlie Deutsch from Fiddlerontheroof. According to Armaloft on course the runner-up had been well backed on course from 6/1 into 9/2. Over in the Star Sports office Ed told me that they’d laid plenty of decent bets, including £15,000 – £5000 each-way and £3000 – £1000 Eklat De Rire and £33,000 – £500 each-way Canelo he added that Fiddler took the book and everything else was a winner.

3:35 – Watch Racing Free Online At Ladbrokes Handicap Chase (For The Jim Joel Memorial Trophy) (GBB Race) (Class 2) (4YO plus) 2m ½f

Maybe it was inevitable but the ‘Lucky Last’ was anything but for the bookies, on paper at least, as two of the three 4/1 co-favourites finished first and second. Paul Nicholls and Harry Cobden landed the spoils with consummate ease with Il Ridoto first, the rest nowhere, well, Numitor was six lengths or so second but could have been much further back. Armaloft Alex was too busy paying out the winning punters to sum up the day, but I’m guessing there’ll be a bonus forthcoming. The Gambling Gods smiled on Hove too, over in the Star Sports office Ed Dark told me that they’d managed to win small on a very quiet betting race where they did manage to lay and keep a £14,000 – £1000 each-way Elusive Belle and thus concluding a winning Newbury. I’ll be back with betting reports live from the Star Sports pitch at Cheltenham in December. Thanks for reading.


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