6 November, 2021

AUTHOR: Star Sports Content


I was trying to think of an old Wincanton story without much success when a friend of mine from Tiverton tapped me on the shoulder to say hello. We’ll call him Dean because that’s his name, he was an independent shop bookmaker at the time. It was almost at the same spot about 15 years ago when I introduced him to some racecourse friends of mine.

One of them was beamoaning not being able to get on a dodgy each-way race. ‘I’ll take anyone’s bets’ proclaimed Dean, chest puffed out and rising to the full 6’ 6” he must nearly stand. My friends were immediately very polite and smiley towards the gallant Dean chatting freely to him as he furnished them with phone numbers, they could call to get their bets on. When I got him on my own, I quietly suggested that he might come second to the people that he’d just opened accounts for. ‘Nobody has beaten me yet’ blustered Dean. To give him his due, he gave them all a good crack of the whip but eventually had to wave the white flag to them all.

12:40 – Nfu Mutual Yeovil Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Chase (Class 3) (4YO plus) 2m 4f

Dean owns a thriving Estate Agent and Property Management business now. ‘Some things never change’ he smiled whimsically as the crowd roared home the Kauto The King, the first winning favourite of the meeting.

He’d come with a busload from a local football club, no he hadn’t offered to lay them all ‘privates’ possibly remembering a series of sizable Rugby League bets that we winning 30 odd nil by half time.

The Estate Agent game apparently a lot less risky, though no doubt a lot less fun. It wasn’t all bad for him though, he let me work off a bad run answering his phones one day a week, I told callers I was called Barney, always was a dreamer!

Back to the first, and Colin Tizzard’s winning charge which returned 5/2, hadn’t been the subject of any huge bets in the ring or in the Star Sports office but business had been brisk albeit modest in both arenas.

1:15 – EBF Stallions ‘National Hunt’ Novices’ Hurdle (GBB Race) (Class 3) (4YO to 6YO) 1m 7f

Knappers Hill was sent off a 1/10 fav and won accordingly for Paul Nicholls under Harry Cobden in the next. I heard that a big punter had been having it on the ring but after asking pretty much every bookmaker I couldn’t find a soul that had laid it, at least not in cash to a punter.

Jess Smith on the Sid Hooper joint had laid the winner at 1/9 to the tune of £2.50 each-way but that didn’t really count. It was different in the Star Sports office. Rory told me that they laid the winner to a nice few quid. Bets included £750 – £3000, £1000 – £4000, £1000 – £4500 x 2 and £1000 – £5000.

The bookmaker that usually shouts ‘Money without work’ was betting down by the parade ring today but he was probably still shouting it, and accurately so on this occasion.

1:50 – John Romans Park Homes ‘Rising Stars’ Novices’ Chase (Grade 2) (GBB Race) (Class 1) (4YO plus) 2m 4f

Just three lined up for the next, the meeting plagued by non-runners, this race halved in field size. Mick Pastor was sent off the weak odds-on favourite, 5/6 from 4/6 but had to settle for runner-up spot behind 6/4 second-in Captain Tom Cat after a good old tussle.

There had had been some decent bets in the ring. Dr Richard Newland’s winner looked to have it all to do two out under Charlie Hammond when challenged by the jolly but keep finding more and ultimately winning going away after jumping the last upsides.

Rory in the Star Sports office told me that they’d laid bets of £800 – £1200 and £800 – £1300 the jolly as well as a £3000 – £2000 the winner.

2:25 – Richard Barber Memorial Mares’ Handicap Hurdle (GBB Race) (Class 2) (4YO plus) 2m 5½f

Rory in the office told me the Rose Of Arcadia, the 15/8 favourite was the worst in the book but not the subject of any big bets. It appeared to be the same in the betting ring. Armaloft Alex told me that he’d yet to take a bet bigger than £100 on the day so far. That’s not to say that the crowd weren’t enthusiastic and not betting, just not in big sums.

Those that backed the jolly would have been feeling fairly confident of copping two out but Colin Tizzrd’s mare fell into a metaphorical hole allowing both Wynn House and Hotter Than Hell to sweep past and fight it out. Alan King’s Wynn House won the race under Tom Cannon cheered home by the large proportion of the crowd that appeared either to have backed her or just like cheering winners.

3:00 – 60th Badger Beer Handicap Chase (Listed) (GBB Race) (Class 1) (4YO plus) 3m 1f

Business, as you’d expect, was brisk in the feature Badger Beer Chase. They bet 9/2 the field in what was a competitive heat. ‘Swampy’ in the Captain’s Chair for the Sid Hooper firm came over to tell me that business had been very good. It had also been busy but small at Star Sports HQ too, the three bets Rory gave me was a monkey each-way for El Presente at 11/1 and carpets each-way for Ofalltheginjoints at 10/1 and Cap Du Nord at 5/1. On a busy Saturday on a feature day the bookies couldn’t write results in much better than Nigel Twiston-Davies’ 40/1 winner Rocco which won in style under Jordan Nailor. There was very little cheering as they passed the post apart from the bookies, always a good sign, if you are a bookie.

Rocco jumping the last to win the Badger Beer Chase at 40/1.

3:35 – Unibet Elite Hurdle (Grade 2) (GBB Race) (Class 1) (4YO plus) 1m 7f

Sceau Royal was the third odds-on shot of the afternoon going off at 4/5 and became the second winning one. The hats flying in the air told the story, Alan King’s gelding won with ease under Daryl Jacob. The result wiped some of the smile from the bookmaker’s faces who were already undoing the elastic bands from their bundles of newly won readies discovering that it was only lent.

Rory in the Star Sports office reported their noted wagers. It’s fair to say that they had taken a moderate clobbering. Bets laid, all on the winning favourite included £2000 – £2500, £1600 – £2000 a couple of times, £1200 – £1500 and an £800 -£1100. All those were topped down in the ring where a bet of £4000 – £5000 was struck on the rails.

4:05 – Wincanton Racecourse Supporting racingwithpride Open NH Flat Race (GBB Race) (Class 5) (4YO to 6YO) 1m 7f

The concluding bumper was busy down in the ring. That of course is the right and proper manner for the lucky last aka the ‘Getting Out Stakes’. It seemed that some punters were clutching at straws, Swampy showed me his book that contained a lot of rags in red. Jack Barber’s Norton Hill won the race by a neck from 3/1 chance Thelasthighking and would have been a decent winner for most on the bookmakers topping of a winning meeting.

Over at the Star Sports office Rory told me ‘It was a quiet race but we laid £1200 – £100 and an early £60 at 16/1 the winner.’

That was that concluding a great week in the Westcountry, next stop, Cheltenham next week where Star Sports bet.


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