I really don’t want to cheese off on-course bookmakers.
I also don’t want to hark on about ‘the good old days’
Back in the good old days, the betting ring was worked in by men who stood proud in their finest suits, if it was wet they donned a smart raincoat, cold a decent overcoat, sunny, maybe shirt-sleeves but always with a tie. Even the floormen looked smart.
What’s happened? Look around the betting ring today, with a few exceptions, there’s hardly a tie in sight, let alone a suit.
Instead there are more jeans than you’d count in a Western, tatty shirts and worse still, T-Shirts, one famously emblazoned ‘Megadeth’. To be brutally honest some front-men look like they’ve just jumped on the stool after taking the bins out. When it’s sunny, well the old boys would turn in their graves, shorts, flip-flops, and I’m reliably informed, in one case, no footwear at all, seem to be deemed suitable work attire when taking bets in the betting ring from strangers on trust.
I do realise it’s all about personal choice, when I first turned up to work for the wealthiest on-course bookmaker I’d hitherto been employed by, I wore a suit. His daughter told me not to wear one again, ‘because most of the people who wear suits to the races owe us’. That was their way but were still in a minority even 18 years ago.
These days when racegoers can bet on their phones on course instead, who wants to bet with a bored looking bloke wearing a pair of Levi’s, trainers and a faded lumberjack shirt? Novice punters would never guess that most of these bookmaking firms own pitches worth hundreds of thousands and turnover as much again and more in business each year.
I’m guessing that a firm that turned up looking smart and business-like on course in competition with a sea of scruffs would take the lot, but it’s just a guess of course.
Simon Nott is author of:
Skint Mob! Tales from the Betting Ring