EXETER TUESDAY: SIMON NOTT reports from Exeter’s evening meeting on Tuesday. It’s a game of fine margins, even over the jumps, with two consecutive short head finishes. Who was on the right side of those verdicts?
It had looked like a pleasant evening was in store up on Haldon Hill for their ‘Season Finale’. Well, this is Exeter Racecourse, the bookies brollies were up before the opening four-runner event. The rain didn’t amount to much, spirits weren’t dampened. I had a bit of banter with bookmaker Joe Oliver prior to the off. He’d not read my last Cheltenham blog so hadn’t seen that he’d graced it in a photo with a beautiful young lady and something a little suspicious in his hand. Much fun was had by all as I showed the blog and picture to his bookmaking brethren, Joe appeared quite proud, sport that he is. If you missed it and are of broad mind, you might fancy a glance here.
5:20 Royal Oak Ideford Mares’ Maiden Hurdle
Giving Back had been sent off at even money to get favourite backers off to a flying start. Bookmakers that took on the jolly got the money when Oliver Greennall’s 11/4 chance Bossiney Bay proved five-lengths too good under Paddy Brennan for the two rivals that finished. It couldn’t be described as a race that would have got the blood pumping but getting a favourite beaten in the opener is usually a good start for the betting ring.
5:50 Wonford Inn Exeter ‘National Hunt’ Novices’ Hurdle
There didn’t appear to be anything particularly fancied in the next, four of the five were all around the 11/4 mark for much of the race. By the off the punters had made Harry Whittington’s Pilot Station their 15/8 favourite. That weight of money got it wrong again, Chester Williams on Rococo River trained by his mum Jane at George Nympton in Devon made virtually all to win at 11/4.
6:20 Ship Inn Teignmouth Handicap Hurdle
There was drama in the third. Punters were treated to a thriller of a finish with the three market-leaders battling it out after the last with Midnight Glory, 9/2 into 7/2, short-heading 5/2 favourite Max Forte with 3/1 shot Stop The World back in third. However the feature of the race was an incident after the third last when Ben Jones on Midnight Glory appeared to attempt to go for a gap up James Davies on Max Forte’s inner. Both horses lost momentum, then Ben Jones seemed to accept his was weeing in the wind and switched his mount before the second last before running on well to win. It took Max Forte a while to get back on an even keel but was flying at the finish and would have won in another stride. Some of the bookmakers saw the shenanigans and held up payment, while others paid only to hear the bing-bong of an objection after what seemed a good seven or eight minutes. Luckily for those layers that paid out and the punters on the winner the result stood.
More relieved than the punters and bookmakers combined was the betting ring manager who just prior the result being given was seen frantically rummaging in has bag looking for a new ‘lost ticket book’!
UPDATE: The fallout from the objection was the rider of the winner Ben Jones was suspended for 2 days for ‘careless riding as he had manoeuvred left-handed in order to jump the third last hurdle’. James Davies rider of the runner-up was cautioned for careless riding as he had ‘allowed his mount to drift right-handed without sufficient correction’ in addition ‘used his whip above the permitted level from the second last hurdle’. As the offence warranted a suspension of between 2 and 6 days and taking into account that this was the rider’s fifth such suspension within the previous 6 months, Davies was referred to the Head Office of the British Horseracing Authority.’
6:50 Locomotive Inn Exeter Handicap Hurdle
The next boasted the biggest field of the day with 14 runners. Racegoers were once again treated to a close finish, this time the 5/1 joint-favourite Blue N Yellow trainer by Tom George got home a short-head in front of 16/1 – 12/1 shot Gingo. The bookmakers would have rather had it the other way around of course but this time the punters got the breaks.
7:20 Heavitree Brewery PLC Handicap Chase
It must have been a bit of a disappointment for the racecourse that only four went to post for the richest race of the meeting. The bookmakers weren’t best pleased that the 6/5 favourite, Jack Barber’s – Nick Scholfield ridden Darcy Ward took the prize by a couple of lengths.
7:50 theashcott.co.uk/exeter Racecourse Intermediate Hunters’ Chase
The trend of poor fields in hunter chases continued in the penultimate when only three went to post. The rain had started to come down after threatening all evening which you’d have thought would have tempered betting interest. Not so, Jo Williams on the Ivor Perry joint reported money for all three in the race early. Betting as they went down was 4/7, 3/1 and 5/1. Gordon Edwards trained In Arrears was eventually sent off at 2/5. The odds-on plunge proved to be a wise investment, it was like finding money on the floor, the jolly won with some authority under Bryan Carver.
8:20 Royal Oak Heavitree Exeter Standard Open NH Flat Race
The concluding race of Exeter’s season was a very busy betting heat, David Pipe’s Story Of Friends took a walk in the betting from an opening 5/4 to 15/8 before being trimmed into 13/8 near the off. Meanwhile Robert Stephens’ charge Echo Du Large was backed from 11/2 into 11/4. There was also money for Fu Fu 20/1 into 12/1. On the turf where it really mattered David Pipe’s Story Of Friends was far too good for them winning cosily despite running a little green. The curtain came down Exeter’s season with an exciting prospect for David Pipe and a losing day, possibly meeting, for the bookies, oh well, they’ll get it all back at Newton Abbot in the summer! Racing resumes here in October.
Simon Nott is author of:
Skint Mob! Tales from the Betting Ring